- Recently rediscovered cassette soundboard recording of the Larks’ Tongues in Aspic line-up
Recorded shortly before the band went into the studio to make that classic recording
Although taken from a cassette recording (audio restored & mastered by DGM) this is the best sounding live recording of this quintet line-up.
King Crimson is on a 50 concert tour from June, including three concerts at London’s Royal Albert Hall, in this, the band’s 50th anniversary year
Bill Bruford ~ David Cross ~ Robert Fripp ~ Jamie Muir ~ John Wetton
It’s remarkable, from this distance in time, to imagine that a band with four chart albums (and an official live bootleg) in its history and the reputation such entailed, could embark on a UK tour, with a completely new line-up featuring just a single surviving founding member, playing a set consisting of newly composed material, some on the spot improvisations and, usually, an encore of one familiar tune – 21st Century Schizoid Man – and be expected by management and promoters not just to fill halls around the country but to sufficiently entertain the audiences from city to city so as not to get bottled off stage.
Welcome to King Crimson’s autumn/winter tour of the UK in 1972.
Not only that but, in an era before smart phones and other such devices, a band such as King Crimson could preview an entire album’s worth of material, test, hone, tweak and likely improve upon it in concert prior to taking it into the studio. Weeks before it could be recorded and months before release a band could be reasonably confident that it wouldn’t be freely available to a mass market before the members had made it back to the hotel post-gig.
Of course, some concerts were recorded, fortunately. Of course, some of those emerged as bootlegs, but some were recorded and, for whatever reason, were lost to history. In late 2017 a former road crew member handed a cassette to the band’s manager at a party. He wasn’t sure if it was in the DGM archive.
This CD is taken from that recording. It was also, coincidentally, the first King Crimson concert ever attended by writer and King Crimson biographer Sid Smith. He confirms that the capacity audience was quite content to hear unfamiliar material and respond with enthusiasm to the challenge presented.
As he says of the recording: “Had this tape been available to the compilers of the 2012 Larks' Tongues In Aspic: The Complete Recordings 15-disc set, I have absolutely no doubt that this concert would have been the jewel in that particular crown. Good quality examples of the Muir-era quintet are so few and far between that, a soundboard tape like this is a precious find indeed.”
He’s absolutely correct and while this is – buyer beware – taken from a cassette made directly from the soundboard, with all of the audio limitations that implies, even after the DGM restoration team has applied its expertise to the tape, it is also the best single live example of Jamie Muir’s short time with this line-up and it’s there that the magic truly lies.
This was King Crimson confidently playing the material that would, for the most part, make up the classic Larks’ Tongues in Aspic album – performed in its near entirety and, improvisations excluded, in the running order that would emerge on vinyl in early 1973 and which is still, some 46 years later, regarded as one of the band’s classic recordings and a classic of the era in which it was performed, recorded and released.
Taped with no expectation that it would be used other than, possibly, by a band member wanting to check an element of a previous night’s performance, an imperfect mix direct to cassette from a live feed, un-played since 1972 and still, as thrilling a live recording as you’re likely to encounter in 2019.
The King Crimson Collectors’ Club was launched in 1998, initially as mail order only, with a remit to give collectors the opportunity to buy live soundboard recordings, collections of studio sessions, audio restored historic bootlegs and other non-mainstream band releases. Over the years, several of these titles proved popular enough to be issued through more conventional retail outlets either as released via the club or as part of the King Crimson boxed set series. As the number implies, King Crimson – Live in Newcastle is the 48th title in the series and the club is scheduled to reach its 50th and final release – appropriately enough – in 2019, the King Crimson’s 50th anniversary.