Lizard (album)

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For other uses, see Lizard (disambiguation).
Lizard - Original Vinyl Cover.jpg
Studio album by King Crimson
Released 11 December 1970
Recorded August – September 1970
Studio Wessex Sound Studios, Highbury New Park, London
Genre Progressive rock, art rock, jazz fusion
Length 42:30
Label Island
Producer Robert Fripp, Peter Sinfield
King Crimson chronology
In the Wake of Poseidon

Lizard is the third studio album by the British band King Crimson. It was the second recorded by a transitional line-up of the group that never had the opportunity to perform live, following In the Wake of Poseidon. This is the only album by the band to feature bassist and vocalist Gordon Haskell, apart from his appearance on the song "Cadence and Cascade" from the previous album, and drummer Andy McCulloch as official members of the band.

Background and music[edit]

Haskell was previously a classmate of Fripp's at Queen Elizabeth's grammar school in Wimborne near Bournemouth, the pair having subsequently played together in the local band, The League of Gentlemen. Haskell later contributed vocals to the King Crimson track "Cadence and Cascade" on In the Wake of Poseidon, after Greg Lake left the band to join Emerson, Lake & Palmer. In a desperate turn to maintain a personnel in the band, Fripp asked Haskell to become an official member of King Crimson for the recording of Lizard. Another supporting musician on In the Wake of Poseidon, saxophonist/flautist Mel Collins was also asked to become a full-time member of this line-up, as was drummer Andy McCulloch, who replaced Michael Giles. The group was then augmented with session musicians, including another In the Wake of Poseidon alumnus – the noted jazz pianist Keith Tippett – together with Yes vocalist Jon Anderson, and brass/woodwind players Robin Miller, Mark Charig, and Nick Evans.

Haskell and McCulloch had an unhappy experience recording Lizard, Haskell especially – a devotee of soul and Motown music – finding it difficult to connect with the material. Following the album's completion, Haskell left King Crimson during rehearsals for a prospective tour. During the next 19 years, he sought legal redress, because he believed that he had been cheated out of royalties owed to him for the album. Shortly after Haskell left the group, McCulloch did likewise. The press release drafted by Sinfield to promote Lizard wryly quoted Max Ehrmann's poem "Desiderata", which contains advice on how to chart a true course through confusion.

Collins, on the other hand, remained in King Crimson with Fripp and Sinfield for the recording of the group's next album, Islands. Haskell was replaced with Boz Burrell on bass guitar and vocals, while McCulloch was replaced with his sometime housemate Ian Wallace. The Islands line-up of the group would finally give some of the Lizard material a live airing, with "Cirkus" and "Lady of the Dancing Water" becoming part of King Crimson's touring repertoire. "Cirkus" would later become part of the touring repertoire of the 21st Century Schizoid Band, whose members included Mel Collins.


Professional ratings
Review scores
Source Rating
Allmusic 3/5 stars[1]
Robert Christgau B−[2]
The Daily Vault B−[3]
SputnikMusic 4/5 stars[4]

Due to the album's penchant for a more jazz-inflected sound in comparison to many of the band's other works, in addition to the idiosyncratic nature of many of its tracks, responses towards the album have been varied since its release. Allmusic's Bruce Eder, comparing Lizard to its two predecessors, described the songs saying "[they] are longer and have extensive developmental sections, reminiscent of classical music". He also deemed that Jon Anderson's presence on "Prince Rupert Awakes" made the album stronger. He finished his review saying that "At the time of its release, some critics praised Lizard for finally breaking with the formula and structure that shaped the two preceding albums, but overall it's an acquired taste."[1]

Music critic Robert Christgau rated the album a B−, saying that the "jazziness" of the album projected a "certain cerebral majesty" but criticized Peter Sinfield's lyrics, qualifying them as "overwrought".[2]

Robert Fripp has himself been very critical of the album, calling it "unlistenable".[5]

Album cover[edit]

Lizard's outside cover art is by Gini Barris, who was commissioned to produce it by Peter Sinfield.

The album's outside cover consists of the words 'King Crimson' spelled out in ornate medieval lettering, the word 'King' on the back cover and the word 'Crimson' on the front cover, with each letter incorporating one or two discrete images. These images in turn represent Sinfield's lyrics from the album – the images in the word 'King' representing the lyrics of the various sections and subsections of track 5, "Lizard"; while the images in the word 'Crimson' represent the lyrics of tracks 1–4.

Whereas the images representing "Lizard" are medieval in content – depicting Prince Rupert, his environs (including a peacock), and the Battle of Glass Tears – the images representing the other four tracks juxtapose medieval and contemporary scenes. The image around the letter 'i' in 'Crimson', for example, depicts the Beatles, corresponding with their pseudonymous appearance in the lyrics to "Happy Family". Around the "n" on the front cover, there is a depiction of Rupert the Bear piloting a yellow aeroplane.

The inside cover of Lizard consists of a marbled pattern, credited to Koraz Wallpapers.


The album had CD releases in 1989 and 2001, each newly remastered by Fripp at the time. The newest version was released in October 2009, containing a 5.1 Surround Sound mix on DVD-Audio, created by British musician and producer Steven Wilson in collaboration with Fripp, as well as a new stereo transfer based on the surround mix.

Track listing[edit]

All songs written by Robert Fripp and Peter Sinfield.

Side one
No. Title Length
1. "Cirkus" (including "Entry of the Chameleons") 6:27
2. "Indoor Games"   5:37
3. "Happy Family"   4:22
4. "Lady of the Dancing Water"   2:47
Side two
No. Title Length
5. "Lizard"
  • (a) "Prince Rupert Awakes"
  • (b) "Bolero – The Peacock's Tale"
  • (c) "The Battle of Glass Tears"
  • (i) "Dawn Song"
  • (ii) "Last Skirmish"
  • (iii) "Prince Rupert's Lament"
  • (d) "Big Top"  
  • 4:32
  • 6:32
  • 11:02
  • 1:18


King Crimson
Additional musicians
Other personnel
  • Robin Thompson – engineering
  • Geoff Workman – tapes
  • Gini Barris - outside painting
  • Koraz Wallpapers - inside marbling
  • C.C.S. - typography
  • Tony Arnold and David Singleton - remixing (7)
2009 40th Anniversary Series re-issue personnel
  • Steven Wilson - mixing, production
  • Simon Heyworth (Super Audio Mastering) - stereo mastering
  • Joe Gilder - assistant mastering
  • Claire Bidwell (Opus Productions) - DVD design & layout
  • Neil Wilkes (Opus Productions) - DVD authoring
  • Jon Urban, Bob Romano, Bob Squires & Patrick Cleasby - DVD QC testing
  • Kevin Vanbergen (FX Copyroom) - multitrack tape restoration and transfers
  • Alex R. Mundy - DGM tape archive
  • Hugh O'Donnell - package art & design
  • Declan Colgan (DGM) - compilation, coordination


  1. ^ a b Eder, Bruce. "Lizard – King Crimson | AllMusic". Retrieved 24 March 2012. 
  2. ^ a b Christgau, Robert (2011). "Robert Christgau: CG: King Crimson". Retrieved 31 August 2012. 
  3. ^ Thelen, Christopher (1998-10-19). "Lizard review at". Retrieved September 1, 2012. 
  4. ^ [1]
  5. ^ "Robert Fripp's diary, 8 September 1999". Retrieved 2 July 2014. 

External links[edit]