King Crimson's third album, Lizard, was originally released in 1970, signaling a band in transition as the implosion of the founding line-up saw Robert Fripp bringing in an expanded roster and taking the music in new directions. Commonly referred to as Crimson's 'jazz' album, Lizard features the talents of Mel Collins (flute, sax), Gordon Haskell (bass, vocals), Andy McCulloch (drums), Peter Sinfield (words & pictures), Robin Miller (oboe), Mark Charig (cornet), Nick Evans (trombone), Keith Tippet (piano), and Yes' Jon Anderson (vocals). Though often cited as one of the bands lesser releases early on, over the years Lizard has slowly grown to cult status among fans, and this reissue does a great job to prove exactly why it deserves its underrated status. Complete with a dynamic Steven Wilson remix, Lizard has never sounded better.
Opening track "Cirkus" is classic King Crimson, dark and brooding, littered with ominous Mellotron, Fripp's majestic acoustic guitar layerings, jazzy piano, and Haskell's haunting vocals. Other than Collins' sultry sax explorations, "Cirkus" is mostly cut from the same cloth as the material from In the Wake of Poseidon, the bands sophomore release. "Indoor Games" is quirky prog with more than a touch of jazz, as nimble grooves allow charming sax & cornet lines to dart about the mix amid acoustic guitars and intriguing vocals. No doubt Gentle Giant were greatly influenced by this song. The creepy yet lighthearted "Happy Family" owes a bit to the Beatles, but its guitar vamps, dissonant flute, screaming horns, and sprinkling of piano obviously borrow significantly from the free jazz scene. From chaotic to majestic, "Lady of the Dancing" arrives in gorgeous fashion, complete with a great Sinfield lyric and Collins' soaring flute, matched up perfectly with Fripp's tender acoustic picking and Evans' yearning trombone. The epic title track features none other than Yes legend Jon Anderson, his alluring pixie vocals drifting over layers of piano, Mellotron, acoustic & electric guitar, and sinewy bass grooves. The second movement of this song contains the lovely "Bolero", highlighted by some irresistible sax, cornet, and trombone melodies, eventually segueing into a free jazz exploration for the entire ensemble to join in on, with Fripp contributing the album's most searing electric guitar lines amid total cacophony.
Wilson remix is, quite simply, stunning; if you are hearing Lizard for the first time, you'll be amazed at how he's taken this very detailed, complex, and varied collection of music and given each instrument the space it deserves. Pop the DVD in your home theater system and take advantage of either of the 5.1 Surround mixes for an extremely enjoyable listening experience. Longtime fans of the album will no doubt agree that this is the best Lizard has ever been presented. The CD & DVD comes housed in a charming digipack complete with a great booklet filled with photos and info on the album, giving this often overlooked and under-appreciated album the kind of release it always deserved.
2) Indoor Games
3) Happy Family
4) Lady of the Dancing Water
Remixed from the original master tapes by Steven Wilson
6) Lady of the Dancing Water (alternate take)
7) Bolero (from Frame By Frame)
8) Cirkus (studio run through with guide vocal from original session)
Original album remixed in MLP Lossless 5.1 Surround & DTS 5.1 Digital Surround
Original album mix (2004 master edition)
2009 stereo mix
CD bonus tracks in MLP Lossless Stereo (24/96) & PCM Stereo 2.0 (24/48)