Friday, April 13, 2007

King Crimson (1985)

Len listened to a Geddy Lee guest spot as a DJ on an obscure radio show, sometime around the summer between our junior and senior years. His interest, and eventually mine, in King Crimson came out of this spot. Unfortunately, Geddy's spins also influenced Len's interest in such bands as Siouxsie & The Banshees and The Cure, and thus changed his musical taste for the worse, in my opinion, especially at the time. I guess it could've been worse, considering it was the 80's. It wasn't until about ten years later that I would rescue him and finally return the favor for all the bands he turned me on to in high school.

Len subsequently would purchase the first ever King Crimson retrospective, A Young Person's Guide to King Crimson, long before their catalog would be plundered three or four times a year for new and unique compilations. One of those questionable compilations would later become my first CD purchase ever. I believe Len also purchased the live album USA, on which I first heard the strange but magnificent "21st Century Schizoid Man", before starting in on the Adrian Belew era releases of the early and mid-80's.

The 80's releases were interesting, and quite a change in direction for the band. 1981's Discipline was clearly the best, with several standout tracks including "Elephant Talk", "Thela Hun Ginjeet", and my personal favorite, the alternatingly nonsensical and hard-rocking "Indiscipline". Looking back, the latter was a bit of a novelty song, but it stirs in me memories of hearing something that was so different from anything I had ever heard. 1982's Beat was pretty good as well, as it included probably my favorite song from that period, "Neal and Jack and Me", as well as the radio-friendly (relatively speaking) "Heartbeat". Three of a Perfect Pair was certainly a dropoff from the first two, although the title track is excellent, and it would signal the end of King Crimson until...what else, a mid-90's reunion.

I said earlier that my first cd purchase was a King Crimson compilation. This wasn't until 1989, while I was living in Syracuse, shortly after graduating from college. I believe Mark was the first of my friends to purchase a cd player, even before his older brother Len. I know Mark was still in high school at the time. I don't remember what his first cd purchase was, but the three that most jog my memory are Deep Purple's Perfect Strangers, The Power Station's self-titled debut, and This is Big Audio Dynamite. And, to think, I was worried about the direction that Len's taste was moving in.

My first cd purchase was The Compact King Crimson, a questionable compilation for sure, but one that captured my interest in the band at that time. It consisted of four of the five songs from the epic In the Court of the Crimson King, leaving out the least essential track, "Moonchild". Besides those tracks, it was basically the best of the Adrian Belew era, except that it included two songs from Three of a Perfect Pair and only one from Beat, which meant no "Neal and Jack and Me". Then there were the five tracks from Discipline, but no "Indiscipline". So, in hindsight it was a compilation that summarized two albums in the history of a band that had ten studio releases to that point...questionable indeed. Regardless, it was my first, and 18 years later it's still holding up well enough that I'm listening to it right now.


  1. I believe Mark's first CD was Queen, The Game. And if it wasn't his first, it was the one he played the most. I believe he still jams on his guitar to it at home when no one's watching.
    Another one bites the dust,
    - Len

  2. I always liked 3OAPP better than Beat. I'll even take a couple of the Belew solo LPs over Beat. I just went to give it another listen, and realized that I traded it in about 15 years ago.