Red (King Crimson album)

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Red
Studio album by King Crimson
Released 5 October 1974
Recorded 30 June, July–August 1974 at Olympic Studios, London
Genre Progressive rock, heavy metal
Length 39:54
Label Island (UK)
Atlantic (North America)
Producer King Crimson
King Crimson chronology
Starless and Bible Black
(1974)
Red
(1974)
USA
(1975)

Red is the seventh studio album by progressive rock group King Crimson, released in 1974. It was their last studio recording of the 1970s and the last before the lead member Robert Fripp temporarily disbanded the group.

Production[edit]

Violinist David Cross left King Crimson after the end of its tour in summer 1974, reducing the group to the trio of Robert Fripp, John Wetton and Bill Bruford. The trio recorded Red with the help of Cross and former band-members Ian McDonald and Mel Collins. Fripp disbanded King Crimson on 24 September 1974, and the album was released the following month with no accompanying tour.

While musically similar to its predecessor Starless and Bible Black, Red was produced very differently from previous King Crimson albums. For instance, while the acoustic guitar features prominently in previous releases, on Red it is heard only for a few bars in "Fallen Angel". Also, unlike previous King Crimson albums, Red features extensive use of guitar overdubs. Later albums lacked acoustic guitar entirely and reverted to a minimum of overdubs (perhaps partly because every lineup of the band after this one has included two guitarists).

The album opens with the title track, a driving, hard rock instrumental. It features multiple time signatures including 5/8, 7/8 and 4/4.[citation needed] Its polyrhythmic melodies use whole-tone scales.[1][2]

The fourth track on the album, "Providence", was recorded live at Palace Theatre, Providence, Rhode Island, USA, on 30 June 1974, and is the album's only live recording. Charles Snider refers to the album as a "swan song", and comments that "'Providence' packs just about everything improv-related from the last two albums into its eight short minutes."[3] A longer, unedited version of the track was first available on the live four-CD set The Great Deceiver and later added as a bonus track to the album itself for its release as part of the band's 40th Anniversary Series.

The original lyrics and melody for "Starless" were written by John Wetton. He originally intended the song to be the title track of the group's previous album Starless and Bible Black. Fripp and Bruford initially disliked the song and declined to record it for that album, with the group then choosing an instrumental composition as the title track for the Starless and Bible Black album. However, "Starless" was later revived, its lyrics altered and a long instrumental section (based on a bass riff in 13/4 contributed by Bruford) added to it, and performed live between March–June 1974. For the Red recording sessions, the lyrics were again altered (with contributions by Richard Palmer-James). The haunting introductory theme, originally contributed and played by David Cross, was taken over by the guitar, with Fripp making minor alterations to the melody. As the title "Starless and Bible Black" had already been used, the original title was shortened to "Starless."

Reception[edit]

Professional ratings
Review scores
Source Rating
Allmusic 4.5/5 stars[4]
Robert Christgau A−[5]
Mojo 5/5 stars[6]
Willson&Alroy's Record Reviews 3.5/5 stars[7]

The record spent only one week on the British charts, at No. 45, whereas all the band's previous studio albums had reached the Top 30. In the United States, it reached No. 66 on the Billboard 200. However, it remained a popular album with fans and critics.

Retrospective reviews were resoundingly positive. In theirs, Allmusic declared Red to be weaker than its two predecessors, but nonetheless a superlative work: "few intact groups could have gotten an album as good as Red together. The fact that it was put together by a band in its death throes makes it all the more impressive an achievement."[4] Robert Christgau also applauded the album, calling it "Grand, powerful, grating, and surprisingly lyrical" and commenting that "this does for classical-rock fusion what John McLaughlin's Devotion did for jazz-rock fusion."[5]

Legacy[edit]

In 2001 Q magazine named Red as one of the "50 Heaviest Albums of All Time",[8] and Kurt Cobain has cited the album as a major influence.[9][10] Musicologists Eric Tamm and Edward Macan both consider Red, and particularly the track "Starless", to be the highlight of King Crimson's recorded output.

The title track was ranked #87 in the 100 Greatest Guitar Songs list of Rolling Stone.[11] Pitchfork ranked Red #72 on the Top 100 Albums of the 1970s stating that "For a band that was very obviously about to splinter, King Crimson's music sounds remarkably of a single mind. On Red, they achieved a remarkable balance between bone-crushing brutality and cerebral complexity." Rateyourmusic voted Red as #1 album of 1974 and #47 greatest album of all time.

Releases[edit]

The album had CD releases in 1989 and 2001, each newly remastered by Fripp at the time. The 40th Anniversary Series version appeared on 21 September 2009, containing a 5.1 Surround Sound mix on DVD-Audio (created by Steven Wilson of Porcupine Tree, in collaboration with Fripp). Another new CD edition, including a 2013 stereo remix by Wilson and Fripp, was released in September 2013.

Track listing[edit]

Side one
No. Title Writer(s) Length
1. "Red" (instrumental) Robert Fripp 6:16
2. "Fallen Angel"   Fripp, Richard Palmer-James, John Wetton 6:02
3. "One More Red Nightmare"   Fripp, Wetton 7:07
Side two
No. Title Writer(s) Length
4. "Providence" (instrumental improv)  (Recorded at Palace Theatre, Providence, USA, 30 June 1974) Bill Bruford, David Cross, Fripp, Wetton 8:09
5. "Starless"   Bruford, Cross, Fripp, Palmer-James, Wetton 12:16

Personnel[edit]

King Crimson
Additional personnel

Production[edit]

  • Arranged & Produced By King Crimson
  • Recorded & Engineered By George Chkiantz & Rod Thear (also assistant engineer)

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ Tamm (1995, p. 85): Tamm, Eric (1995) [1989]. "Chapter 9: Eno's Progressive Rock Music ('Pop songs')". Brian Eno: His Music and the Vertical Color of Sound (Reprinted ed.). New York: Da Capo Press. ISBN 0-306-80649-5. 
  2. ^ Macon (1997, p. 55)
  3. ^ Snider, Charles (2008). The Strawberry Bricks Guide to Progressive Rock. Lulu. p. 181. ISBN 978-0-615-17566-9. 
  4. ^ a b Eder, B. (2011). "Red – King Crimson | AllMusic". allmusic.com. Retrieved 25 July 2011. 
  5. ^ a b Christgau, Robert (2011). "Robert Christgau: CG: king crimson". robertchristgau.com. Retrieved 25 July 2011. 
  6. ^ Barnes, Mike (November 2009). "Royal Flush". Mojo (London: Bauer Media Group) (192): 106. ISSN 1351-0193. 
  7. ^ "King Crimson reviews from Willson&Alroy's Record Reviews". Retrieved August 4, 2012. 
  8. ^ 50 Heaviest Albums of All Time
  9. ^ Interview with Robert Fripp
  10. ^ Interview with Bill Bruford (in Italian)
  11. ^ Rolling Stone – The 100 Greatest Guitar Songs of All Time. Retrieved 2011-01-24. "‘I'm not a blues guitarist’, Robert Fripp said in 1995, 'but I think I've met the spirit of the blues several times.' This is one of them: blunt-instrument funk in which Fripp, leading a power-trio Crimson, jars the mathematical cadence of his riffing with a wrecking-ball swing and rude pig-squeal harmonics."
  12. ^ http://www.elephant-talk.com/wiki/FAQ_-_King_Crimson_Past#Who_played_the_bass_solo_on_.27Red.27.3F

References[edit]

Further reading[edit]