Three of a Perfect Pair

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Three of a Perfect Pair
Three of a Perfect Pair.jpg
Studio album by
Released27 March 1984 (1984-03-27)
RecordedMay – November 1983
  • Arny's Shack (Poole, Dorset)
  • Marcus (London)
  • Bearsville (Woodstock, New York)
1:08:14 (2001 remaster)
ProducerKing Crimson
King Crimson chronology
Three of a Perfect Pair
The Great Deceiver
King Crimson studio chronology
Three of a Perfect Pair
Singles from Three of a Perfect Pair
  1. "Sleepless"
    Released: 1984

Three of a Perfect Pair is the tenth studio album by English band King Crimson, released in March 1984 by record label E.G. It is the final studio album to feature the quartet of Robert Fripp, Adrian Belew, Tony Levin and Bill Bruford.


According to Fripp: "The album presents two distinct sides of the band’s personality, which has caused at least as much confusion for the group as it has the public and the industry. The left side is accessible, the right side excessive."[2]

The "other side" on the 2001 CD remaster consists of instrumental material from the 1983 sessions, and a 1989 a cappella recording (first published in the 1991 "Frame By Frame" box set) in which Tony Levin performed his humorous song "The King Crimson Barber Shop".[3]

The title of the album is based on the idea of “perfect opposites”, or someone's truth, someone else's truth, and an objective truth (the idea of “three sides to every story”).[citation needed]

The Peter Willis designed artwork illustrates the sacred–profane dichotomy while being a simplified version of the Larks' Tongues in Aspic cover; a rising phallic object represents a male solar deity about to penetrate the crescent figure, a female lunar deity.[citation needed] According to Fripp, the artwork is “a presentation of a reconciliation of Western & Eastern Christianity..the front cover has the two elements, representing the male & female principles. The back cover has the third element drawing together & reconciling the preceding opposite terms”.[4][5]

Tracks 10-15 were added for the 2001 30th Anniversary remaster. The aforementioned instrumentals, “The King Crimson Barbershop”, and three alternate mixes of "Sleepless". Two of the three were previously released on the UK 12" single. The Bob Clearmountain mix appeared (incorrectly credited and against the band's wishes) on the U.S. Warner Bros. pressing of the LP.

The hip hop duo Gang Starr would later sample the intro to "Dig Me" in their song "Words I Manifest (Remix)" from their 1989 debut album No More Mr. Nice Guy.

Release and reception[edit]

Professional ratings
Review scores
Robert ChristgauB−[7]
Rolling Stone[8]
Trouser Pressmixed[10]

Released on 27 March 1984, Three of a Perfect Pair reached number 30 in the UK Albums Chart.[11]

Trouser Press described it as "a most disjunct album from a band that prided itself on carefully matched contradictions. The Left Side sports four of Adrian Belew's poorer songs and a self-derivative instrumental; the flip is nearly all-instrumental, nearly free-form, nearly brilliant. [...] Apparently the Frippressive "discipline" that forged the critically acclaimed pop/art synthesis of the first two latter-day Crimson albums is not a permanent condition."[10]

During an interview on BBC Radio 1 in 1984, Robert Fripp described the album's 'left' side as "accessible" and 'right' side as "excessive".

A new 5.1 surround sound mix by Steven Wilson and Robert Fripp was released in 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.

Track listing[edit]

All lyrics are written by Adrian Belew; all music is composed by Belew, Bill Bruford, Robert Fripp and Tony Levin, except "The King Crimson Barber Shop", with music & lyrics by Levin.

Side one (The Left Side)
1."Three of a Perfect Pair"4:13
2."Model Man"3:49
4."Man with an Open Heart"3:05
5."Nuages (That Which Passes, Passes Like Clouds)" (Instrumental)4:47
Side two (The Right Side)
6."Industry" (Instrumental)7:04
7."Dig Me"3:16
8."No Warning" (Instrumental)3:29
9."Larks' Tongues in Aspic (Part III)" (Instrumental)6:05
2001 bonus tracks (The Other Side)
10."The King Crimson Barber Shop"1:37
11."Industrial Zone A"1:44
12."Industrial Zone B"4:33
13."Sleepless" (Tony Levin mix)7:26
14."Sleepless" (Bob Clearmountain mix)5:24
15."Sleepless" (Dance mix - F. Kevorkian)6:18


King Crimson
Additional personnel
  • Brad Davis – engineer
  • Tony Arnold (Arny's Shack) – co-engineer on "Industry" and "Dig Me"
  • Nick James, Ray Niznik, Peter Hefter – assistant engineers
  • Tex Read – social services
  • Peter Willis (Trevall Mill Studio) – cover symbol design basis
  • Timothy Eames – cover art

Chart performance[edit]

Chart (1984) Peak
Canada Top Albums/CDs (RPM)[12] 43
German Albums (Offizielle Top 100)[13] 58
Japanese Albums (Oricon)[14] 37
UK Albums (OCC)[15] 30
US Billboard 200[16] 58


  1. ^ A Beginner’s Guide to the epic music of King Crimson
  2. ^ Smith, Sid (May 2016). "Three Of A Perfect Pair - The Long View". Retrieved 7 February 2021.
  3. ^ Reed, Ryan (3 February 2017). "King Crimson: Beat & Three of a Perfect Pair". Relix. Retrieved 15 April 2022.
  4. ^ "FAQ - What Does It All Mean - ETWiki". Archived from the original on 20 January 2009. Retrieved 5 February 2010.
  5. ^ Keeling, Andrew. "Smashwords – Musical Guide to Larks' Tongues In Aspic by King Crimson - A book by Andrew Keeling - page 31". Retrieved 19 May 2018.
  6. ^ Prato, Greg. "King Crimson Three of a Perfect Pair review". Allmusic. Rovi Corporation. Retrieved 25 July 2011.
  7. ^ Christgau, Robert. "Consumer Guide Reviews: Three of a Perfect Pair". Robert Christgau. Retrieved 25 July 2011.
  8. ^ Puterbaugh, Parke (10 May 1984). "Album Reviews: King Crimson – Three of a Perfect Pair". Rolling Stone. Archived from the original on 28 October 2007. Retrieved 25 July 2011.
  9. ^ Sinclair, David (3 May 1984). "King Crimson 'Three of a Perfect Pair'". Kerrang!. Vol. 67. London, UK: Spotlight Publications Ltd. p. 10.
  10. ^ a b Grant, Steven; Fleischmann, Mark; Robbins, Ira. " :: King Crimson". Retrieved 30 July 2016.
  11. ^ "King Crimson | Full Official Chart History | Official Charts Company". Official Charts Company. Retrieved 8 August 2016.
  12. ^ "Top RPM Albums: Issue 6745a". RPM. Library and Archives Canada. Retrieved 6 January 2020.
  13. ^ " – King Crimson – Three of a Perfect Pair" (in German). GfK Entertainment Charts. Retrieved 6 January 2020.
  14. ^ Oricon Album Chart Book: Complete Edition 1970–2005 (in Japanese). Roppongi, Tokyo: Oricon Entertainment. 2006. ISBN 4-87131-077-9.
  15. ^ "King Crimson | Artist | Official Charts". UK Albums Chart. Retrieved 23 February 2016.
  16. ^ "King Crimson Chart History (Billboard 200)". Billboard. Retrieved 23 February 2016.

External links[edit]