Monday, July 03, 2006
Neil, Jack and Somebody
Which Crim do YOU like?
All musicheads know the band King Crimson, but in case you are in the dark go here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/King_Crimson
Like any artist, the brothers Crim have gone through many personnel changes with one exception: Robert Fripp, the band's founder and unofficial leader. He is still a sour puss who would rather drive nails into his foot than sign autographs, but we'll get to that.
Watching the DVD Neil and Jack and Me has made me begin to think about all things Crimson. What is this Crim thing all about?
On the whole, Crimson fans are incredibly loyal, vocal, sincere and some even have an unhealthy, obsessive admiration for Fripp. I believe they see (or use) Fripp as a symbol of their own uniqueness. Crimson as the thinking person's music, blah, blah. Yes, it sounds like teenage hero worship, but there it is.
Crimsonites can also be so loyal to one period and one period only. The Crim periods can be divided into three: 1969-74, 1981-84, and 1994 to present.
The '69-74 period shows a band at times groping for a direction, but when they really all come together, the results are amazing. They were creating a new rock language- a language which influences bands today (Tool would be a good example). Here the convergence of jazz, blues-rock and even concepts stolen from 20th century "classical" music make up the Crim compost of influences. As any VHS Behind the Music ominous voiceover will tell you, there came a time when "things began to turn horribly wrong." and the Crim disbanded. Some older folks can't get past this period and love to snuggle their gatefold remasters of "In the Court of the Crimson King." Nothing wrong with this period, some of my favorite Crim is from this era, but these constant reissues are so irrelevant to me.
The 80's Crim is my favorite incarnation. This DVD shows the Belew-Levin-Bruford-Fripp lineup in fine form. Bruford looks like he's having the time of his life, running around playing both acoustic and electronic drums. Belew makes it all look so easy as he releases those monsterously strange sounds from his guitar. Sour puss Fripp looks like an accountant or a classical musician who's wandered onto the wrong stage. But, the guy who puts it all together is Tony Levin who is simply one of the finest musicians of our time. Watching his hands playing the stick is worth the price of admission.
The music played on these concerts hasn't aged and all the band members have their moments of brilliance.
The 1994 to present group, I have to admit I have limited appreciation for. While there are some good tracks that I have heard from this time period, I feel like the band sounds like they are so desperate to do something new and consequently, it comes off as dry and academic. It's the Arnold Schoenberg period of the band. People who find chaotic dissonance played to impossible time signatures good listening have my blessing, but having gone through that in music school, I'll pass.
Give me a good groove any day.
Posted by eclectic guy at 11:03 AM