Beat is the ninth studio album by the British rock band King Crimson, released in 1982 by record label E.G. It is the first King Crimson studio album to feature a band line-up identical to that of their previous album. Two of the four members of King Crimson were at this time Americans: Frontman Adrian Belew, and bassist Tony Levin.
"Neal and Jack and Me" is the track most obviously inspired by Beat writers. The 'Jack' of the title is Beat writer Jack Kerouac, while 'Neal' is Kerouac's best friend Neal Cassady. Besides On the Road, the lyrics make references in French to other significant Kerouac works; Les Souterrains, Des Visions du Cody and Sartori a Paris. The song was released as a B-side to "Heartbeat". Musically it picks up where the album and songDiscipline left off, with Fripp and Belew's dueling guitars weaving in and out of patterns in 5 4 and 7 8 time signatures.
"Heartbeat" is also the name of a book written by Neal Cassady's wife Carolyn about her experiences with the Beats.
"Sartori in Tangier" derives its title from Satori in Paris and the city of Tangier in Morocco, where a number of Beat writers resided and which they often used as a setting for their writing. Writer Paul Bowles was associated with the Beats, and his novel The Sheltering Sky, which provided the title for a track on King Crimson's previous studio album, Discipline, is partly set in Tangier. The song was first released as a b-side to the Heartbeat 12" single in 1982. It is entirely instrumental with the intro performed by Tony Levin on the Chapman Stick.
"Neurotica" shares its title with Neurotica, a Beat-era magazine. The Frippertronics intro is lifted directly from the beginning of "Hååden Two" off Fripp's 1979 solo album Exposure.
"The Howler" refers to the Beat poem Howl by Allen Ginsberg, which Fripp suggested to Belew as inspiration for the lyrics. The 15 8 guitar riff heard halfway through the song can be likened to the one Belew played on the Tom Tom Club single "Genius of Love" in 1981.
Although not an obvious reference to any Beat-related writings, "Requiem" is notable for the drama it caused within the band. It is an improvisation set to the backdrop of a Frippertronics loop from Fripp's 1979 tour. Levin and Bruford recorded the rhythm tracks, and Belew returned to the studio alone to record more guitar overdubs. Fripp later did the same, and when the group had re-convened in the studio, Belew told Fripp to leave. He did, and was visibly upset. Fripp headed for Wimborne, and was not heard from for around three days. Bruford wrote a supportive letter and the group's manager at the time, Paddy Spinks, had a phone call with Fripp, where they managed to "piece it all back together". Belew would later apologise, but the group had broken up and didn't reunite until the 1982 tour.
Fripp has said this about the album's production: "At the time, Bill and Adrian thought that Beat was better than Discipline. For me, this is an indication of how far the band had already drifted from its original vision. The group broke up at the end of Beat... I had nothing to do with the mixing of Beat, nor did I feel able to promote it. Somehow we absorbed that fact, and kept going." Belew would later go on to say, "Beat was the most awful record-making experience of my life and one I would never choose to repeat." Both Belew and Bruford have said that "Heartbeat" and "Two Hands" shouldn't have been on the album. Regardless, the album was commercially successful and the group was well-received on tour.
Released on 18 June 1982, Beat reached number 39 in the UK Albums Chart.Trouser Press wrote that "the players push their instruments into a new form, akin to fusion and art-rock, but miles beyond either, and beyond description as well."
A new 5.1 surround sound mix by Steven Wilson and Robert Fripp was released on October 2016 for the 40th Anniversary Series as a standalone CD/DVD package and as part of the On (and off) The Road 1981 - 1984 boxed set.