Some may have noticed my recent obsession with King Crimson lately. After collecting dozens of CDs and seeing them twice in concert, they have become my favorite non-jazz band of all time (this honor has previously gone to Led Zepellin, Rush, and Frank Zappa). This post is for two things: 1. General Crimson thoughts My exposure to Crimson: towards the end of college, I was exploring 70s "prog" and was totally devoted to the movement, snapping up anything and everything I could. I went through a phase of musical snobbery where everything that was in 4/4 was boring. That phase ended quickly, fortunately, and have grown to dislike the "prog" moniker. I also got rid of a ton of bad prog CDs. So, of course, the subject of Crimson came up. I had heard a compilation once a long time before that and didn't like it, so I was a bit wary. I bit the bullet and picked up In the Court. I felt it was OK, but typical of 70s prog, albeit a little darker. I didn't realise at the time that other "prog" bands were taking their inspirtation from it, not vice versa. I wasn't that impressed, and still don't rank it amongst their greatest works. I then read how they changed their sound an became more like the Mahavishnu Orchestra. Being a fan of them, I picked up Lark's Tongue In Aspic. That description is very misleading and wrong, IMO. Anyway, I really dug Lark's Tongue II, Exiles, and Talking Drum. I recognised that this was quite a unique sound. Eventually I picked up Starless And Bible Black. This is the album that did it for me. I was shocked at how ballsy the title track was. Great Deceiver rocked! I was starting to learn a little bass, and John Wetton fascinated me. Most of all, Fracture just made my jaw drop. I was hooked. I ended up picking up the rest of their 70s catalogue, liking some stuff more than others, particularly Red. I was wary of the 80s stuff, since I feel that almost all prog bands start to suck after 1979, if not earlier. Of course, Crimson is no typical "prog" band. I was put off by the completely different sound of Discipline, but it was infectious. It took me a while to realise how involved that material actually is, and even more intricate than the Starless material. A while later, I gave Thrack a spin. I liked some, but felt there was filler in there. The thing that got me into current Crimson was ConstrucKtion of Light. The title track just blew my mind. I realised that these weren't some old farts, but a very relevant and important group of musicians. I've since gotten all the albums (a couple of times), live stuff, ProjecKts, some solo stuff, etc. Not only do I think they are "still good," but I believe they are more adventurous and stronger then they've ever been. Since I didn't grow up with them, I'm not biased against/for particular members (many Crimson fans got angry when Bruford left. I don't care.) Their new material, currently available on the Level Five EP, is amazing. Imagine Discipline, without all the happy pop stuff. All this still means little unless you've seen them live. Wow, wow, and wow. The single most intimate musical experience I had was seeing Deception of the Thrush performed live for the first time. I didn't really care for that track until then. That one performance made it one of my favorites. Crimson is important because they prove that discipline, craft, and skill are not "self-indulgent" or "masturbatory" (although some bands do behave this way). Rather, they demonstrate how these things can be used to create a musical experience that would be impossible without it. Because of their vast experience and expertise, they are able to do anything they want with music. While I'll not say that every Crimson album is a masterpiece, all of them have some worthwhile music (and most are masterpieces ). Ok, that's enough rambling for now. 2. The King Crimson Collector's Club If you're serious about experiencing Crimson, they offer an opportunity for fans I've not seen anywhere else. The Collector's Club makes available recordings that would not be successful as mass-market releases but are of interest to fans. Most of these are live recordings, with varying degress of quality. The first couple are the worst sounding discs. Some of these performance include "historically" important concerts. For example, one disc is the last performance of the '74 band in NYC. The next release is the first performance of the '81 band when they still were calling themselves Discipline. Thus, you have two consecutive Crimson concerts seperated by two band members and 7 years! The club used to have a subscription service, where you had to pay to join, then they would send you new releases... it was kind of annoying. Now, until they figure out a way to make it work, the club releases are available as regular mail-order products. So, you can just buy whichever ones you want. I'm trying to get them all, but sadly a few have been discontinued and one has never been released. If anyone is interested in more info or about specific discs, let me know and I'll offer some more insight. Also, has anyone heard any of the side projects? I picked up three of Robert Fripp's Soundscapes. It's... interesting. Very ambient, very background-ish. One of these discs, A Blessing of Tears, is a tribute to his mother. The liner notes are his eulogy to her. Reading it while listening to the album is quite an experience. It's amazing how he can get the feelings of grief, sadness, acceptance, and hopefullness out of a guitar making bleeping noises. Listening to Crimson and Soundscapes also opened me up to digging Bowie (OK, I only got one album so far, but give me time), some of the more obscure Peter Gabriel stuff, and even the Talking Heads.