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King Crimson: Starless and Bible Black (40th Anniversary edition)

In early 1974, King Crimson released their follow-up to the successful Larks's Tongues in Aspic, the equally challenging & powerful Starless and Bible Black. Down to the core of Robert Fripp (guitar, Mellotron, devices), Bill Bruford (drums, percussion), John Wetton (bass, vocals), and David Cross (violin, viola, keyboards), the band combined both studio and live recordings for this landmark effort, now remixed by the esteemed Steven Wilson for maximum effect. With the album available here in both CD and on DVD, this is as close to the definitive version of Starless and Bible Black that you are ever going to see.

Kicking off the album are the two 'fully in the studio' songs, the hard charging "The Great Deceiver" and the more quirky prog rocker "Lament". Both tracks show just how more of a 'guitar' band Crimson had become, as Fripp's angular, jagged riffing & scorching lead work take center stage over Wetton's thunderous bass and Bruford's acrobatic drumming. The funky "We'll Let You Know" was sourced from a live jam and sweetened in the studio, as was the haunting "The Night Watch", which is also notable for the ever present and glorious Mellotron, drifting in the background while Fripp's guitar sings and Cross' violin soars. Wetton's vocal here is quite enchanting, easily one of his best performances on the album. "Trio" and "The Mincer" are both improvisational pieces, and spliced together from both live and studio sources, the former featuring some lovely violin/Mellotron/bass melodies, and the latter a menacing attack of ominous Mellotron, slashing guitar, and simmering grooves. The title cut also takes that slow build, mysterious route, as the band quietly rumble & weave their lines around each other, the volume slowly swelling before Wetton's booming bass and Fripp's distorted guitar engage in the ultimate battle. While the dissonance & complexity can be liked to the material on Lizard or Island, this is clearly a much leaner, meaner King Crimson, with the emphasis on rock as opposed to jazz. Album closer "Fracture" is the epic, complete with dark heavy riffs, angular lead guitar, crushing bass, intricate drumming, and wah-wah soaked violin. Again, as with most of the album, it's the uncanny improvisational skills of the band that take center stage here, so if you've come expecting soaring, symphonic arrangements, best to look elsewhere. This is savage, adventurous King Crimson at their very best.

This 2011 reissue contains a wealth of bonus material, including the two part "The Law of Maximum Distress", both of which, again, rely more on improv than actual song structure. As complex, lengthy jams go, it's great stuff, with "The Mincer" thrown right into the middle of them. Two songs toyed around with during the album sessions, "Dr. Diamond" and "Guts On My Side", appear here in live versions from 1973 & 1974. The former is a fun, upbeat rocker, highlighted by Wetton's quirky vocal and distorted violin & guitar, while the latter combines both funk and hard rock for a more straightforward approach.

Wilson's remix here is superb, and as with all the releases in this series, you get the album presented on DVD in multiple formats, which will be a real treat for your home theater system. The DTS 5.1 Digital Surround option is especially thrilling, but even the stereo mix sounds fantastic. Also included are two pieces of live footage from the historic 1973 Central Park concert, as well as various other live audio tracks. All of this is housed in a digipack complete with original artwork, photos, and tons of info on the album. Quite simply, this is an essential purchase for any King Crimson fan, and if you've never owned it, this is the version to seek out.

Track Listing
1) The Great Deceiver
2) Lament
3) We'll Let You Know
4) The Night Watch
5) Trio *
6) The Mincer *
7) Starless & Bible Black
8) Fracture
Remixed from the original multi-track master tapes by Steven Wilson
* taken from the original stereo masters
Bonus tracks
9) The Law of Maximum Distress: Part 1
10) Improv: The Mincer
11) The Law of Maximum Distress: Part 2
12) Dr. Diamond (live, June 23rd 1973)
13) Guts on My Side (live, March 19th 1974)

Original album remixed in MLP Lossless 5.1 Surround & DTS 5.1 Digital Surround
Original album mix (30th anniversary edition)
2011 stereo album mix in
MLP Lossless stereo (24/96)
PCM Stereo 2.0 (24/48)
Live in Zurich November 15, 1973:
The Night Watch
The Law of Maximum Distress: Part 1
Improv: The Mincer
The Law of Maximum Distress: Part 2
Additional tracks:
We'll Let You Know
Dr. Diamond
Guts on My Side
The Night Watch
The Night Watch
30 second radio advert
60 second radio advert
Video content-Central Park, NY June 25, 1973:
Easy Money
Fragged Dusty Wall Carpet

Added: November 22nd 2015
Reviewer: Pete Pardo
Related Link: Band Facebook Page
Hits: 2352
Language: english

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