Sound — 10
First album by progressive rock band King Crimson, released in 1969, and one of the pillars of progressive rock. Well, I honestly think that most of the King Crimson albums are almost perfect and the lineups are very competent, but this one here tends to be my favorite album and lineup. King Crimson consisted of Robert Fripp, Ian McDonald, Greg Lake and Michael Giles. Fripp's playing is just amazing and ahead of its time. This guy has the power to create from beautiful melodies to insane jazz fusion oriented craziness and jams. Ian McDonald is some kind of a "1001 utilities" to the band, playing flute, clarinet, saxophone, vibraphones, keyboards and melotron. Very talented guy. Greg Lake plays very solid, competent bass lines overall. I'll be saving my comments about his vocal performance for the next section of this review. Michael Giles... Well, in my opinion, this guy is one of the most underrated drummers of all time. Highly influenced by jazz fusion, his rhythms are just stunning. Well, enough said. Let's talk about this album. 01. "21st Century Schizoid Man" - This song starts with a 30 seconds silence... Then, brace yourself! Your ears are about to receive an insane dose of jazz fusion. This song actually starkly contrasts from the rest of the album. Heavy guitars, saxophone craziness and insanely fast drumming. Sounds like a jazz band addicted to methamphetamine. 02. "I Talk To The Wind" - This one here is a beautiful ballad, mostly sustained by a very touchy guitar, a flute and a very smooth drumming. Like I've said, really in contrast with the album's insane opening. Oh, and that flute... Just beautiful solos. One of them just ending this great tune. It's kinda simple, and yet so amazing. 03. "Epitaph" - Another beautiful, and very melancholic tune. Entirely lead by a smooth electric guitar, an acoustic guitar and an amazing melotron. It's just impressive how it goes very slight and calm through the verses, then comes the chorus and it's like an atomic bomb. Not to mention the beautiful clarinet solo by Ian here. The guy just went full genius here. 04. "Moonchild" - One of King Crimson's most experimental songs. It starts with an beautiful melody provided by Fripp's guitar. Then, around 2:00 of the song, it stops, and the song fades into some kind of a random jam for 10 minutes, with Fripp and Ian sharing some craziness through guitar notes and vibraphones, while Giles slightly touches his percussions. This song is really criticised even by King Crimson fans, but I honestly find this interesting and enjoyable. 05. "The Court Of The Crimson King" - Ending the album, comes this majestic piece of music. Another melotron-led tune, this also features other instruments like flute and harpsichord. I also love how it goes, just like "Epitaph": soft, then comes the chorus and it's like an explosion. Great way of ending an album, that in my opinion, is one of the best progressive rock albums of all time.
Lyrics — 9
Lyrics on this album, provided by Peter Sinfield, are pretty varied. "21st Century Schizoid Man" and "Epitaph" makes many kinds of references to things like chaos and the doom of mankind (like in "21st Century Schizoid": "Death seed blind man's greed/Poets' starving children bleed." or in "Epitaph": "The fate of all mankind I see/Is in the hands of fools."), while "I Talk to the Wind" transmits a message of loneliness and disillusion with the world, and "The Court Of The Crimson King" and "Moonchild" are pretty much like tales. But it's worth to remember that these lyrics are really deep and I'm sure there's many other messages in those lyrics. Just free your mind on them if you want. Well, talking about Greg Lake's voice, I find it really awesome. It can go from craziness (like in the opening track) to calm, and even really powerful (good examples are in the choruses of "Epitaph" and "The Court Of The Crimson King").
Overall Impression — 10
Well, enough said here. A milestone in progressive rock. A musical prime work. I would highlight "The Court Of The Crimson King" and "I Talk To The Wind" here in this album, but honestly, this album is perfect, or at least almost perfect, so I don't think there's a single let down here. A total must have in the collection of any progressive rock fan. I'm really proud of owning this, and I will totally buy it again if I lose it. And if you never listened to it, go do it now! You don't know what you're missing!