Most people will have expected the first King Crimson album In The Court Of The Crimson King. And I fully understand everybody in that respect. That is an absolute cracker, with songs like for instance 21st Century Schizoid Man and the title track being timeless.
But to me, Beat is the one to discuss here. Besides it being the record that got me into King Crimson in the first place, I feel this album sounds as fresh today as it did back then.
The four piece consisting of Robert Fripp, Adrian Belew, Tony Levin and Bill Bruford were creating some very powerful and imaginative music at the time, which has stood the test of time remarkably well.
Whether it´s the groove of Sartori in Tangier (where Tony Levin is beating his stick to everyone´s joy), or the instant addictiveness of Neal And Jack And Me or Heartbeat, or the absolute melting drama of Two Hands (just listen to the voice of Belew and his clean guitar, counter-parted by Fripp´s frippertronics), this album still grabs me by the throat every time I hear it. Needless to say that if music does that to you, it has got to be a classic.
For people unknown to the Crimson King, this album is a good way to start educating yourself. I am sure it will whet your appetite, leaving you wanting more.
Wow, talking about a trip down memory lane… This album I originally bought on LP (for the young ones, think of that as a very large CD, often in a black colour, that you could play on both sides on a thing called pick-up (don´t ask) ). I always thought that from that period, Beat was the better record, but boy it was sure nice hearing these tracks again.
On this 2004 30th Anniversary addition (yeah, that long ago…) there are 6 bonus tracks. Or actually 4, as Sleepless gets a remix round from Tony Levin, Bob Clearmountain and an, ehrm Dance version…. Not sure I am all to keen on that one… The first bonus track, The King Crimson Barber Shop is hilarious however. Just vocals, but magnificent.
But back to the songs. Of course for KC adepts nothing new here. Soundscapes and songs. Very accomplished musicians. Most surprising to me however was that I still know all these tunes by heart. The impact must have been greater on me than I realized at the time. Of course the classic ending of Dig Me (” dig me, but don´t bury me” ) still sounded as strong as ever. And the aforementioned Sleepless is a great song no matter what remix you put it through.
But if you don´t know King Crimson, is this the album to start with? Mmhm, I don´t know. I guess the début (In the Court Of The Crimson King), Discipline, or Beat would be more obvious choices. But if you are willing to take a chance and want to discover this great band, give it a try. There´s a chance you will be hooked forever…