The 1972 in the history of King Crimson was the year of constant changes and instability. Band broke up and than the same year its line-up was formed for fulfill appointed concerts. With intention of disbanding immediately afterwards. During 1972 tour the group was in some kind of transitional stage between line-ups of albums Islands and Larks’ Tongues in Aspic. The sound of the band has been documented by first King Crimson’s live album Earthbound. Recorded during USA tour in February and March and released in June 1972 by Island, this is one of most progressive albums in the history of rock music.
After great debut album from 1969 In the Court of the Crimson King and almost perfect continuation of its style one year later In the Wake of Poseidon, group begin to change the line-up and the style. Next records Lizard and Islands came with deep changes and escalating disagreement. Shortly after recording sessions of Islands the 1971 group featuring composer Robert Fripp and lyricist Peter Sinfield along with drummer Ian Wallace, bass player and singer Boz Burrell and Mel Collins playing saxophones, flutes and mellotron, was going to collapse. Disagreements between Fripp and Sinfield and then differences in opinions of the band members resulted in its decay.
|King Crimson – Earthbound (1972)|
During the 1972 US tour the atmosphere in the group was heavy. As an effect of ideological contradictions and personal disagreements every artistic effort was at risk of failure. On the other hand, the tensions between the musicians resulted in loosening discipline, and in consequence increased the expression – paradoxically, limited communication gave artists more freedom. Thus this album includes more improvised solos and free structures and than any King Crimson’s recordings released these times. In opening this album live version of 21st Century Schizoid Man along with Robert Fripp extended guitar solo drummer Ian Wallace and bassist Boz Burrell are playing phrases which are neither the soloing nor the typical accompanying. Such qualities were repeated along with Mel Collins saxophone solo. In culmination it is quite close to collective improvisation joining together rock and free jazz fusion.
More discipline band showed in Groon, recorded during the same concert as 21st Century Schizoid Man at Willmington. Groon is largely improvised composition previously published as B-Side of King Crimson’s 1970 single Cat Food. In single version it was 2’45” long, here it is 15’30” and includes extensive improvisations of band members and Hunter McDonald operating VCS3 synthesizer. Phenomenally sounds The Sailors Tale recorded in the rain at Baseball Park in Jacksonville, FL, February 26, 1972. Unfortunately this recording is only small fragment set from silence and muted on the end Side One. Full live recording of this song with great drums and synthesizer solos has been published in 1998 as Live at Jacksonville 1972.
Recorded next day at Orlando, FL, Earthbound is funky and closer to fusion music. The same attitude is presented in composition Peoria recorded at The Barn in Peoria, IL, March 10th. Baritone saxophone solo opening series of improvisations in Peoria gave some new sound for King Crimson music. This more funky than rock saxophone solos have it’s answers in scat singing improvisations by Boz Burrell.
Improvisations became the base for exposure of artists’ individual ideas and a chance to check the concept of the leader. The style of the album is still located within Robert Fripp’s arrangement and compositional ideas. First, middle and last compositions, 21st Century Schizoid Man, The Sailors Tale and Groon are clear expression of King Crimson’s style. Among this three the are mostly improvised Peoria and Earthbound. And this joint of ideas makes this album says more about seventies than many others, even if these occurrences are more popular, commercially successful and famous.