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Released: Nov 1974
Genre: Progressive Rock
Number Of Tracks: 5
It was their last studio recording of the 1970s and the last before the lead member Robert Fripp temporarily disbanded the group. Fripp and drummer Bill Bruford are the only personnel on this album to appear in later versions of King Crimson.
Elrafa, on march 26, 2009 1 of 1 people found this review helpful
Sound: 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. // 10
Lyrics: 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. // 10
Overall Impression: 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. // 10
willi287, on may 28, 2010 0 of 0 people found this review helpful
Sound: Red was recorded after David Cross left King Crimson in 1974, leaving the band as a trio which consisted of Robert Fripp (Guitar, Mellotron), John Wetton (Bass, Vocals) and Bill Bruford (Drums, Percussion).
Many people refer to Red as King Crimson's swan song album, as the band disbanded before the release of it, leaving it without an accompanying tour. Although King Crimson did reform several times and made more records, none were held in as high regards amongst fans compared to Red and other previous releases.
The album kicks off with the title track Red, an 8 minute heavy rock instrumental which sets the tone guitar wise for the rest of the album. While acoustic guitars were featured prominently in previous King Crimson records, in this record it has taken a back seat. Also different to previous King Crimson records is that Red features extensive use of guitar overdubs, resulting in a weightier guitar sound.
This change works effectively within the title track, as the guitar work delivers a satisfying crunch that accentuates the fierceness of the track brilliantly. The Cello section in the middle does a great job of stopping the track from becoming stale, and also creates a dreaded ambience which contrastingly compliments the fierceness of the beginning and the end of the track. It works wonderfully and is a great example of Fripp's skill as a composer. Overall a solid start to the album.
The second track: Fallen Angel takes a turn from the title track and starts off very mellow. Wetton's singing during the verse is beautifully haunting and parallels really well with the mellotron lines. The song gets slightly heavier and tighter during the chorus, which really shows off Bruford's unique drumming style.
One More Red Nightmare starts off with a fierce and relentless feel not dissimilar to the title track. This draws the listener into expecting another Red, until the verse and singing starts, carrying an almost funky singing style which unbelievably works within the context of the song.
The start of side 2 contains another instrumental by the name of Providence. Providence differs from Red by the fact that it is a live recording. It is an 8 minute improvisation that best showcases the incredible connection between the band members. It is absolutely phenomenal and no description I make can give it justice, go give it a listen. It's only downside is that perhaps it is too complicated for its own good, which may take some listeners several listens to get into it.
The last track: Starless, is definitely the highlight of the album. Clocking in at over 12 minutes in length, it basically features all the best bits of King Crimson albums in the 70s and rolled them all into one. A slow mellotron strings passage coupled with a haunting electric guitar rift and saxophone line starts off the song, equating to arguably the most beautiful music King Crimson has ever put on a record.
This then introduces a solid verse chorus structure until the middle of the track, where a build up is played in 13/8 starting with a distorted bass line. It gets louder and louder until the song erupts into a loud, jazzy rock number complete with Sax solo, then the song ends on a heavier reprise of the opening melody.
Really I would attempt to describe Starless to you some more but, heck, just go listen to it yourself. // 9
Lyrics: Understandably, since two of the tracks are instrumentals, there isn't a lot of vocal work present. However, as mentioned numerous times, John Wetton's voice suits these songs perfectly, and gives them the extra energy to take them up a notch.
Lyrics are expectedly solid. Fallen Angel showcases a good example of a talented lyricist at work and One More Red Nightmare shows a more imaginative and wilder side rear its head.
Starless on the other hand ambiguously describes a starless night. The genius of it is that the song can be interpreted in many ways; it instils a difference sense of identification on each different listener. // 10
Overall Impression: It isn't easy to get into, and it certainly isn't a very mainstream album. I can understand why some people will not get into as it is very challenging music to listen. However, if you keep an open mind, all I can say is enjoy. // 10
chy_qn, on august 04, 2010 0 of 0 people found this review helpful
Sound: Just imagine me, sitting alone in a cold room, being a teenager slowly digging through the sounds of Pink Floyd, Led Zeppelin, Black Sabbath, and all kind of other bands, just lately being exposed to the psychedelia of King Crimson's 'Discipline' album. All kind of hopes moving inside me, I turn my speaker a little bit louder, and click play. And there 'Red' begins.
Oh my, you can imagine my first impression, being overwhelmed with the magic of the screeching guitar of Robert Fripp, crazy drums of Bill Bruford, flat, strong voice of John Wetton and other sounds being provided by session musicians, one of them being Ian McDonald, former member of King Crimson coming back to the deal. Now that it was quite a long ago, I can have a colder look on what is 'Red'.
It's hard to explain the sound of Red. Fripp himself likes to describe it as "crim-metal", and that's what it perfectly is. If you heard other CD's from King Crimson (especially the first ones), imagine all that musical poetry and delicacy now being coated with heavy Gibson crunch and this incredible jazzy feeling that is being provided by the drums. Bass play is very melodic, sometimes with a drone-like sound, sometimes pushing hard and providing a groovy background.
Title song, 'Red', first hits you with all of these, leaving nothing to wish, providing both melody and elaborate rhythmical changes, instrumental song being whole. Nothing to add, nothing to subtract, a shot straight in the face. Then, a little step back and a slow down, but just seemingly. 'Fallen Angel' is a ballad interlaced with noisy elements, sax sounds and this moving, crying gutiar sounds made by Fripp. Interesting thing is that the verses of this song are being backed with an acoustic guitar, and this is the last time Fripp plays an acoustic on a Crimson record. Then, 'One More Red Nightmare', a composition in the 'Red' spirit, but with an interesting vocal and mocking feel. 'Providence' is an extract from an improv made at Palace Theatre gig - quite disturbing, but a nice piece for a change. At last, "Starless" brings us The Apocalypse. Beginning slowly, lyrically and nostalgically, providing sound of the mellotron and leading sax melodies, it then turns dark and heavy, with an incredible Fripp's solo played on just a couple of tones, finally ending with a sax solo and an epic (not power-metal epic, but majestically, lyrically epic) coda, that leaves the listener shocked, sometimes even crying.
Is there anything bad about the sound? Maybe yes, some people can find the vibe too dark and moody. But you have to remember that it was recorded far back in '74, no high quality equipment back then, it's a shock that even the not remastered versions are quite clean. // 10
Lyrics: Only three pieces of lyrics here, but believe me, that's enough. Palmer-James, who was the man writing for John Wetton, did quite a job here. It seems that the songs were meant to be straight forward, but sometimes I cannot just ignore the impression that there is more to them than just a wordy message, especially that I had to look up some of the lyrics to figure them out. "Fallen Angel" seems to be a nostalgic, dramatic piece about being a trash, a person on a margin. "One More Red Nightmare" talks about living through - well, surprise - a nightmare, literally being a catastrophe, but who knows what lies beneath. Then, "Starless" - you have to be careful here, not to confuse it with "Starless and Bible Black", which was a composition from their previous album. The name is taken from the writer named Dylan Thomas and his work, 'Under Milk Wood'. "Starless" talks about a dusk of a relationship by the metaphors of upcoming dark, starless night.
Although Wetton is not considered some kind of a top-class vocalist, his voice fits incredibly with the music. It's flat but strong, very moody. He's capable of singing very specific melodies that ring in your head for long. // 9
Overall Impression: To be honest - for me, it's KC's best album. Not too long? True, 45 minutes, 5 pieces, but it's long enough, consistent and a whole by itself. It's really up to everyone by themselves. I just love the poetry embedded into the songs, and I mean not only words, but how all these sounds tell you various stories. Each of the songs is great in it's own way, "Starless" being in my opinion a crown on the head of King Crimson's '68-'74 music. If I were to pick an album of King Crimson that you really, REALLY HAVE TO listen to, "Red" would be the one. You get a little bit of 'everything' here - not in a 'colorful-crap-jigsaw', way, it all remains full and coherent.
I must say that King Crimson is one of my favorite bands, for long time it was my #1, and I know I'm biased. I'm trying to be critical. Thing is, you cannot be really critical if something is almost flawless. // 10