Larks' Tongues in Aspic

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For the composition, see Larks' Tongues in Aspic (instrumental).
Larks' Tongues in Aspic
Studio album by King Crimson
Released 23 March 1973
Recorded January–February 1973
Command Studios, London
Genre Progressive rock, experimental rock, jazz fusion, heavy metal
Length 46:36
Label Island
Producer King Crimson
King Crimson chronology
Earthbound
(1972)
Larks' Tongues in Aspic
(1973)
Starless and Bible Black
(1974)

Larks' Tongues in Aspic is the fifth studio album by the English progressive rock group King Crimson, originally released in 1973. This album is the debut of King Crimson's third incarnation, featuring original member and guitarist Robert Fripp and new members John Wetton (vocals, bass guitar), David Cross (violin, Mellotron), Jamie Muir (percussion), and Bill Bruford (drums). Bruford had just left Yes before they embarked on their Close to the Edge tour. Bruford felt that he had done all he could with Yes at that point, and thought the more jazz-oriented King Crimson would be a more expansive outlet.

Song info[edit]

The album sees the band incorporate into its sound violin and also various exotic percussion instruments, including sheet metal and mbiras.

The album opens with a long experimental instrumental piece titled "Larks' Tongues in Aspic (Part One)". After that there are three vocal pieces, "Book of Saturday", "Exiles" and "Easy Money", with lyrics written by Richard Palmer-James. These are followed by two more instrumentals, "The Talking Drum" and "Larks' Tongues in Aspic (Part Two)". The instrumental pieces on this album have strong jazz fusion influences, and portions have an almost heavy metal feel.

The album spawned the concert staple "Exiles", whose Mellotron introduction had been adapted from an instrumental piece called "Mantra" the band's original line up performed throughout 1969. At that time, as well as in late 1972, the melody was played by Fripp on guitar. It is the only studio album with this 5-man line up, since Muir left the group while on tour in 1973. Attrition took this incarnation of King Crimson through the next several albums until Fripp's "retirement" in 1975.

In 2012 the album was issued as part of the King Crimson 40th Anniversary Series, including the release of an expansive box set subtitled "The Complete Recordings". This CD, DVD-A and Blu-ray set includes every available recording of the short-lived 5 man line-up, through live performances and studio sessions. As with the rest of the 40th Anniversary Series, the release features new stereo and 5.1 surround mixes produced by Steven Wilson and Robert Fripp, taken from the original multi-track master tapes, as well as a selection of alternative versions. Clean video footage of the band performing early versions of "Exiles", "Larks' Tongues in Aspic (Part I)" and a 30 minute improvisation became available publicly for the first time as part of this reissue; previously only one of the pieces had been broadcast on German television, with heavy visual effects applied to the image.[1] In addition, all known concert-recordings with this line-up are enclosed. Some of them were previously released through the King Crimson Collectors Club. There are two new recordings; one is from Glasgow, and was delivered from Ole Petter Dronen and the other one is Muir's penultimate gig with the band in Portsmouth, without credited source. The box also contains a link to a free download of a London-gig whose unrestorably poor audio quality renders it barely listenable; its internet-only release is meant for completists only.[2]

Reception and legacy[edit]

Professional ratings
Review scores
Source Rating
AllMusic 4.5/5 stars[3]
Robert Christgau B−[4]

The album peaked at number 20 on the UK charts and at number 61 in the US.[5]

"For sheer formal inventiveness," Bill Martin writes, "the most important progressive rock record of 1973 was... Larks' Tongues in Aspic." He further writes that listening to this album and Yes's Close to the Edge will demonstrate "what progressive rock is all about".[6] AllMusic's retrospective review was resoundingly positive, marking every aspect of the band's transition from a jazz-influenced vein to a more experimental one as a complete success. They deemed John Wetton "the group's strongest singer/bassist since Greg Lake's departure." They especially praised the remastered edition.[3]

Robert Christgau's retrospective review gave a more ambivalent view, saying of the band's instrumental work, "not only doesn't it cook, which figures, it doesn't quite jell either."[4]

In the Q & Mojo Classic Special Edition Pink Floyd & The Story of Prog Rock, the album came number 22 in its list of "40 Cosmic Rock Albums".[7]

The progressive metal bands Dream Theater and Murmur [8] both covered "Larks' Tongues in Aspic Pt. II". The cover is featured on the special edition of Dream Theater's album Black Clouds & Silver Linings.

Track listing[edit]

Side one
No. Title Writers Length
1. "Larks' Tongues in Aspic, Part One" (instrumental) David Cross, Robert Fripp, John Wetton, Bill Bruford, Jamie Muir 13:36
2. "Book of Saturday"   Fripp, Wetton, Richard Palmer-James 2:53
3. "Exiles"   Cross, Fripp, Wetton, Palmer-James 7:40
Side two
No. Title Writers Length
4. "Easy Money"   Fripp, Wetton, Palmer-James 7:54
5. "The Talking Drum" (instrumental) Cross, Fripp, Wetton, Bruford, Muir 7:26
6. "Larks' Tongues in Aspic, Part Two" (instrumental) Fripp 7:07

Personnel[edit]

King Crimson
Additional personnel

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Reissue announcement". 
  2. ^ "Rainbow Theatre - MP3 Download". 
  3. ^ a b Eder, Bruce (2011). "Larks' Tongues in Aspic - King Crimson | AllMusic". allmusic.com. Retrieved 28 June 2011. 
  4. ^ a b Christgau, Robert (2011). "Robert Christgau: CG: King Crimson". robertchristgau.com. Retrieved 28 June 2011. 
  5. ^ Hoffmann 2004, p. 1144.
  6. ^ Martin 1998, p. 225.
  7. ^ Q Classic: Pink Floyd & The Story of Prog Rock, 2005.
  8. ^ http://seasonofmist.bandcamp.com/track/larks-tongues-in-aspic
  9. ^ "Interview with DAVID CROSS". 

Works cited[edit]

Further reading[edit]