David Cross: Violin and Keyboards - Robert Fripp: Guitar and Mellotron
John Wetton: Bass and Voice - William Bruford: Percussives
USA was recorded towards the end of King Crimson’s final US tour of the 70s in June 1974. It was issued as an epitaph for the band in Spring 1975 as a single album – at a time when doubles or even triple live albums were more considered the norm for live releases. Deleted towards the end of the vinyl era in the mid-80s, it remained unreleased in the CD era until the expanded edition was finally issued in October 2002. In common with much of Crimson’s output, it was not well received at the time by critics, though its critical reputation grew immeasurably in the intervening years to the point where a review of the ‘21st Century Guide to King Crimson’ boxed set in 2004 identified the album as the point “…where Fripp maps out the guitar blueprint for the entire post-punk movement.”
If that claim sounds somewhat exaggerated, a casual listen to the opening minutes of the album – where the ethereal ‘walk on..’ tape of Fripp & Eno’s ‘No Pussyfooting’ gives way to the sonic assault of ‘Larks’ II’ – provides ample evidence to back up the claim. It’s also worth noting the audience response to the band – especially at the end of ‘Starless’, a piece that had yet to be recorded in the studio at that point.
The reputation of the 1972/1974 King Crimson line-ups is now revered by critics and fans alike, with the material so sought after that it can justify a full 21 CD/DVD/2 Blu-Ray collection of the US/Canadian tours of Spring/Summer 1974.
Drawn from that release & presented in the King Crimson 40th Anniversary series format, the USA CD/DVD features a previously unreleased mix of the Asbury Park concert that formed the bulk of the original album, while the DVD features Hi-Res stereo versions of that mix, Ronan Chris Murphy’s mix of the concert (issued on CD in 2006) & the expanded version of the original vinyl album as issued in 2002.
Uniquely, of the releases in this series, USA is presented in Hi-Resolution stereo only – not 5.1 Surround – as Robert Fripp decided that the live power of the quartet is best experienced in stereo sound.