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Various Artists (Tributes) - 21st Century Schizoid Band (King Crimson alumni group) - Live In Japan (DVD) CD (album) cover


Various Artists (Tributes)


Various Genres

4.00 | 5 ratings

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Symphonic Team
4 stars The original and best!

The 21st Century Schizoid Band is a King Crimson "alumni group" consisting of Ian McDonald, Michael Giles, Peter Giles, Mel Collins and Jakko Jakszyk. Ian McDonald and Michael Giles were of course founding members of King Crimson contributing to the ground breaking 1969 debut In The Court Of The Crimson King and Mel Collins and Peter Giles both have histories with that pioneering progressive Rock group that go all the way back to the recording of the second album In The Wake Of Poseidon. Jakko Jakszyk was the only one here that at the time of this live recording had not previously been a member of King Crimson, but Jakszyk too has now recently joined the ranks of King Crimson. Here we have these five men performing an excellent concert in front of an ecstatic audience in Japan in November 2002.

With only two exceptions, the set list consists entirely of material that was written or co-written by someone on the stage. The show opens with a brief ambient instrumental credited to Jakszyk which sets the mood for the show and leads into A Man, A City. The latter is a song that was originally performed live by King Crimson after the release of In The Court Of The Crimson King and later became Pictures Of A City which first appeared in studio form on the follow up album In The Wake Of Poseidon. Next up is Cat Food which is another song from that second Crimson album. It bears a writing credit of Ian McDonald even though he didn't play on the original album version of the song since he and Michael Giles decided to leave the group around this time. After Cat Food comes a song of a much more recent origin, taken from Ian McDonald's 1999 solo album Driver's Eyes (which also featured Michael Giles as well as John Wetton and Steve Hackett and many others) Let There Be Light is a good song that sounds better live than in the studio and fits very nicely into the 21st Century Schizoid Band repertoire. The same must be said of Progress which is the only song in the set that I had not heard before. It is taken from Michael Giles solo album of the same name which was recorded around 1978 but was not released until 2002.

No less than four out of the five tracks from In The Court Of The Crimson King are here, every one of them excellently performed. Not only is this by far King Crimson's best album, it is also an eternal milestone of the whole genre of progressive Rock. Having these brilliant songs recreated in 2002 by some of the people who originally wrote and performed them back in the days utilizing modern recording technology is amazing. This is especially significant in virtue of the fact that Robert Fripp and co have entirely turned their backs on material from the band's early days. Hearing these great performances, I don't miss Fripp for a second.

The title track from In The Court Of The Crimson King as well as I Talk To The Wind were both written by Ian McDonald (with lyrics by Peter Sinfield) while Epitaph and 21st Century Schizoid Man were group compositions credited to Fripp, Greg Lake, McDonald, Giles and Sinfield. Moonchild is the sole song from that classic debut album album that is not included in this live set. Even though I certainly would not have minded hearing the first, harmonic, melodic part of this song, it is a blessing not to have to hear that aimless second part of the song. In a way, what we have here is the best of early King Crimson without any of the dross that made it onto some of their albums.

While the band's third album Lizard is not represented in this set list, we get two songs from the fourth album Islands. These are Formentera Lady and Ladies Of The Road, both credited to Fripp and Sinfield. Both of these live versions are in my opinion improvements over the original albums versions that had a very weak sound. The same can be said of Tomorrow's People and Birdman which both come from the 1971 McDonald & Giles album. The first of these features Michael Giles on lead vocals and the second is (in the present version) a great symphonic instrumental. The only song in the whole show that doesn't really fit in is If I Was, another one from McDonald's Driver's Eyes. It is a conventional Pop song on which McDonald himself takes the lead. While in general McDonald is an underrated and brilliant song writer, this is hardly his finest moment and his voice is too weak to carry the song.

Overall, this is a great live concert recording. The 21st Century Schizoid Band is much truer to King Crimson's original sound and spirit and they carry on the flame and preserve the great legacy of that band better than anyone else.

SouthSideoftheSky | 4/5 |


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