Red review by King Crimson

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  • Released: Jan 1, 1974
  • Sound: 10
  • Lyrics: 10
  • Overall Impression: 10
  • Reviewer's score: 10 Gem
  • Users' score: 9.9 (33 votes)
King Crimson: Red

Sound — 10
I have to start saying that King Crimson is one of my favorite bands, and this album, red, has an excellent arsenal of musicians, which include John Wetton (bass, vocals), Bill Bruford (drums, percussion) and of course Robert Fripp (guitar & mellotron). We start with the heavy and breath taking title track: "Red", which is an impressive instrumental song that portrays Fripps abilities as a composer and guitar player, as well as Bruford's unique drumming style, and the band's ability to feature multiple time signatures in one song; it's hard for me to believe that this song was written in 1974, as it sounds very futuristic. The second track is "Fallen Angel", which is more mellow than "Red"; "Fallen Angel" has beautiful arrangements that include reverse delays and mellotron lines, which give it a unique flavor, the song starts a bit soft, but gets tighter in the chorus and sax solos, Wettons singing is impeccable. Continuing with "One More Red Nightmare", we again reprise the caotic feel of "red". Starting with an unforgetable guitar riff with an octave fuzz effect, the song features different time signatures, an impresive alto sax solo by guest and former band member Ian McDonald, and again we can apreciate Wettons singing and his ability to maintain notes for a long time. We finaly get to calm down on the beginning of the fourth track, "Providence". This incredible piece is an 8 minute long improvisation recorded live. We can see the incredible connection the band members have, while this song takes us in an unexplainable voyage to another dimension. We can appreciate Dvid Cross' beautiful violin playing through out the whole song, which starts of by being very soft, but builds up to a very heavy and dissonant jam. Finally we arrive to the majestic final track, "Starless". We start off with some mellotron strings and one of the most beautiful melodies Ive ever heard, played by a soprano sax and a guitar, there isn't a word that has the beauty to describe it. We then continue to the verse, in which Wetton sings in an incredible melancholic state. We then fall into a still very sad chorus and repeat this verse/chorus structure once more. Wetton's singing is beautiful and in the chorus we can see again that he can hold notes for a very long time. We then go to the build up of this song, wich consists on a bass line in 13/8 and Fripp playing only two notes throughout this whole part, which gradually gets heavier and heavier until it erupts into chaos and we hear Bruford's insane drumming, until we abruptly fall into an impressive soprano sax solo which makes my mind swirl around at an incredible speed until finally, we reprise on the soul-eating melody from the beginning with a heavier rhythm base, leaving us in a state of ecstasy until the song ends.

Lyrics — 10
I find the lyrics on this album great. In "Fallen Angel" we can see very poetic writing, telling the story of someone's younger brother who is killed in a gang fight. The Lyrics on "One More Red Nightmare" are very ad hoc to the music in my opinion, the lyrics is about an untamable nightmare in which a man thinks he's flying on an airplane that's going down. Finally we have "Starless", which has very beautiful words describing the fall of a night without stars. This lyrics can be interpreted in several ways and I exhort each listener to find his own meaning to the words. I think it describes the way society is becoming each time more distant, more cold, more gray. Overall, great Lyrics in the 3 songs that are not instrumentals in this album, the singing as stated before is great, John Wetton's voice is close to perfect.

Overall Impression — 10
Concluding my review, I have to say I think this album is a one of a kind experience. I find every piece excellent. Many people would find this album strange, since it's not commercial music, I'm sure many people might dislike strange time signatures, long instrumental passages and harsh melodies. But in the end I think anyone that has an open mind and gets to submerge in the ambience of this majestic record will fall in love with it.

12 comments sorted by best / new / date

    Starless and Bible Black is one of the best songs ever. Its a very good album, though I coudn't "get familiar" with Providence yet.
    my personal favorite king crimson album followed closely by THRAK and in the court. very vvery awesome band.
    Great review and Also A great album. One of my favorites album but THRAK is the best in my opinion.
    one of the greatest prog albums ever!!! Robert Fripp is so unrated... he deserve to be more appraised....
    A brief comment on "Starless and bible black". The first time I remember hearing it, I thought: "This song was quite OK". The second time I heard it, I thought: "It's a good song". The third time I heard it, I thought: "Who is the drummer, and how the hell can he manage to play it this awesomely?!". Conclusion: This song is one of King Crimsons best songs, and if you've never heard it, well, then I pity you.
    Mr. Chang
    This was their last great one for me. Red and the 6 or 7 albums that came before it were all cool but they were never really as good after they reformed.