Wednesday, December 08, 2010

Repost: King Crimson “Red” (1974)

A caged beast of a record, and easily this group's best, it strips away most of their obscurantist pretensions to serve up a guitar bass and drum assault that runs frequently into the red and is something to behold: Bruford's drumming is jaw-dropping, while Fripp plays with a dark metallic intensity that suggests he's one of rock's wasted talents. I can even put up with John Wetton here, whose ferocious bass playing is more like a second (maybe third) lead instrument and whose singing has a kind of macho bravura that suits this music's seething intensity. Still, the beast is caged. I'm always a little let down by the second side, which is what keeps Red from essentially essential status, with the wandering "Providence" (another crack at the improv-based excursions heard on the previous album) and the somewhat undercooked "Starless." No, I'm not kidding: "Starless," which many listeners seem to think is a masterpiece, could've used a little more work. I'm forever disappointed by the whole trajectory of this track, which at 12-some minutes would've benefited from a few more (the majestic ending should've been lengthier, to provide a kind of bookend equivalent to the sturm-und-drang of "Red;" it may be quibbling, but it's my party and I'll cry if I want to). So, instead of the Godzilla of prog-rock tracks, "Starless" is merely a woolly mammoth. This group never made the great record they should've made. This one's the only one that comes close. And oh so close. –Will

No comments:

Post a Comment