King Crimson

~ Group


King Crimson are a progressive rock band. Formed in London in 1968 (but featuring a transatlantic line-up since 1981), the band are widely recognised as a foundational progressive rock group (although the group members resist the label). The band have incorporated diverse influences and approaches during their five-decade history (including jazz and folk music, classical and experimental music, psychedelic rock, hard rock and heavy metal, new wave, gamelan, electronica and drum and bass) as well as balancing highly structured compositions against abstract improvisational sections and an interest in pop songs. The band has a large following, despite garnering little radio or music video airplay.

With guitarist Robert Fripp as the only consistent member (and therefore considered to be the band's leader and motive force), King Crimson's line-up has persistently altered throughout its existence. Eighteen musicians and three lyricists have passed through the ranks, although the tenure of certain members has sometimes extended for decades. King Crimson's sound has varied according to its instrumentation - earlier line-ups featured prominent saxophone and keyboards, while subsequent line-ups replaced this with (variously) violin, innovative acoustic or electronic percussion, interlocking guitars or touch-style instruments. The band are notable for continuous engagement with contemporary music technology - in addition to Fripp's extensive work in loop music both in and out of the band, King Crimson pioneered the use of Mellotrons in the 1960s; Roland guitar synthesizers, Simmons electronic drums and the Chapman Stick in the 1980s; dense MIDI processing and the Warr Guitar in the 1990s, and Roland V-Drums in the 21st century. King Crimson's existence has been characterised by regular periods of hiatus (each of which have been initiated and concluded by Fripp). From 1997 until the present day, various subdivisions of King Crimson have continued to pursue aspects of the band's work and approaches via a series of related bands collectively referred to as "ProjeKCts".

The debut line-up of King Crimson was influential but short-lived: lasting for just under one year, it established several of the ground rules of British progressive rock (a high standard of instrumental expertise, active technological engagement, complex multi-part compositions and the fusion of then-current psychedelic rock forms with classical, jazz and folk idioms). During 1970 and 1971 a second and unstable line-up struggled to unite disjunctions between increasingly formalised studio work and rougher live incarnations, going through numerous personnel changes while further exploring elements of jazz, funk and chamber music. Establishing a third, stable line-up in 1972, King Crimson developed a European-influenced improvisational sound with elements of hard rock, jazz fusion and a distinctly harsher classical component (mainly inspired by Béla Bartók) before breaking up in 1974. A fourth line-up of King Crimson was active between 1981 and 1984 - an Anglo/American quartet with new wave pop and gamelan influences. A fifth line-up (the 1980s quartet expanded to a six-piece) appeared in 1994, blending aspects of the band's 1980s and 1970s sound with fresh influences from genres such as industrial rock, grunge and loop music. Further line-ups of King Crimson have continued to work up until the present day, with the band continuing to incorporate new elements (such as drum and bass) into their music. The current line-up is a seven-piece band (Fripp, Jakko Jakszyk, Tony Levin, Mel Collins, Pat Mastelotto, Gavin Harrison and Bill Rieflin) with three drummers, a saxophonist/flautist, paired guitars, bass and assorted electronic devices. Due to the number of musicians involved in King Crimson over the years (plus the band's emphasis on creativity and on recruiting high-level players) the band is at the hub of a network of other bands and projects, and has been influential to many contemporary musical artists.

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Year Title RatingReleases
1969 In the Court of the Crimson King 4.95 54
1970 In the Wake of Poseidon 3.85 33
1970 Lizard 3.8 25
1971 Islands 4 11
1973 Larks’ Tongues in Aspic 4.65 15
1974 Starless and Bible Black 4.5 10
1974 Red 4.55 16
1981 Discipline 4.5 17
1982 Beat 3.8 11
1984 Three of a Perfect Pair 3.35 11
1995 THRAK 3.65 9
2000 The ConstruKction of Light 3.5 3
2003 The Power to Believe 3.5 4

Album + Compilation

Year Title RatingReleases
1975 A Young Person’s Guide to King Crimson 4 4
1986 The Compact King Crimson 4 4
1991 Heartbeat: The Abbreviated King Crimson 2
1991 Frame by Frame: The Essential King Crimson 1
1993 Sleepless: The Concise King Crimson 1
1999 The Deception of the Thrush: A Beginners’ Guide to ProjeKcts 1
1999 The VROOOM Sessions 1
2003 The Power to Believe Tour Box 1
2004 The 21st Century Guide to King Crimson, Volume 1: 1969–1974 2
2005 The 21st Century Guide to King Crimson, Volume 2: 1981–2003 1
2006 The Condensed 21st Century Guide to King Crimson: 1969–2003 1
2008 40th Anniversary Tour Box 1
2014 The Elements: 2014 Tour Box 1
2015 The Elements: 2015 Tour Box 1
Giganty Rocka 1
The Greatest Hits 1

Album + Compilation + Live

Year Title RatingReleases
2000 The Collectors’ King Crimson, Volume Three 1
2007 The Collectors’ King Crimson, Box 1 1

Album + Live

Year Title RatingReleases
1972 Earthbound 5
1975 USA 5
1992 The Great Deceiver 5 4
1995 B’BOOM: Official Bootleg – Live in Argentina 2
1995 Live in Chicago, IL 1
1996 THRaKaTTaK 4 2
1997 The Nightwatch: Live at the Amsterdam Concertgebouw November 23rd 1973 2
1997 Epitaph, Volumes 3 & 4 2
1997 Epitaph, Volumes One & Two 3 2
1998 Absent Lovers: Live in Montreal 1984 5 5
1998 On Broadway 1995 3 1
1998 Live at the Marquee 1969 1
1998 Live at Jacksonville 1972 2
1999 The Beat Club, Bremen 1972 1
1999 Live at Cap d’Agde 1982 1
1999 Cirkus 1
1999 The ProjeKcts 1
2000 Live at Summit Studios, Denver March 12, 1972 4 2
2000 Live in Central Park, NYC 2

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