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Various Artists (Tributes) - 21st Century Schizoid Band (King Crimson alumni group) - Pictures Of A City: Live In New York CD (album) cover


Various Artists (Tributes)


Various Genres

4.92 | 5 ratings

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Symphonic Team
5 stars The best of classic King Crimson performed live by some of its original creators!

Pictures Of A City - Live In New York is a double live album recorded in 2004. Compared to Live In Japan--a live album and video they recorded a couple of years earlier--there has been one change in the line-up of the 21st Century Schizoid Band with Ian Walace having taken the place of Michael Giles behind the drum kit. Ian Walace was the original drummer on the Islands album from 1971. Peter Giles and Mel Collins first participated in the making of 1970's In The Wake Of Poseidon and both of them are still here along with original Crimson member Ian McDonald who played a central role in the creation of the ground breaking 1969 debut album In The Court Of The Crimson King. The fifth and final member of the 21st century Schizoid Band, Jakko Jakszyk, is the only one that had not previously been a member of King Crimson at the time of this live recording (however, Jakszyk too has become a King Crimson member at the time of writing).

The set list featured here overlaps to a significant degree with that of the aforementioned Live In Japan release but there are several noteworthy differences. With Michael Giles gone it was perhaps natural that they dropped the songs from his non-Crimson career including songs from the 1971 McDonald & Giles album. Instead we get two 21st Century Schizoid Band originals, one written by Mel Collins and one by Jakko Jakszyk. There is still one song from Ian McDonald's 1999 solo album Driver's Eyes, but otherwise they concentrate on material from King Crimson's first four albums to which the members of the 21st Century Schizoid Band originally contributed in various constellations.

We get four out of the five songs originally from In The Court Of The Crimson King, two of which for Ian McDonald single-handedly wrote the music (with Peter Sinfield writing the lyrics) and the other two also bearing writing credits to him. In The Wake Of Poseidon is represented by three tracks in Pictures Of A City, Cat Food and Cadence And Cascade. Giles and Collins participated in the original recording of that album and McDonald is credited with writing some of the material that ended up on it even though he had left the band before this album was recorded. Spend Us Three is the Collins original and it is a piece written for three (!) flutes which here functions as an introduction to Cadence And Cascade. The other 21st Century Schizoid Band original, credited to Jakszyk, is Catley's Ashes. This is an instrumental workout which works well among the classics.

1970 also saw the emergence of Lizard, the band's third album to which Mel Collins contributed as a full band member. This album is here represented by its best track, Circus--excellently performed, like everything else here. This brings us to the fourth album, Islands, to which Collins and Ian Walace originally contributed. Formentera Lady, Ladies Of The Road and Sailor's Tale were originally on that album. The second disc of this live album is pure bliss with I Talk To The Wind, Epitaph, 21st Century Schizoid Man and Starless. These are just the four best King Crimson songs ever all in one place! The original version of Starless featured both Mel Collins and Ian McDonald as guest performers.

Compared to the already very good Live In Japan release, Pictures Of A City - Live In New York is even more solid with one great classic after another and not a single sub par song. 21st Century Schizoid Band is an extremely tight unit with a goldmine of great material to draw from. The existence of this great band and this fantastic live recording in particular is especially significant in light of the fact that Robert Fripp and co have entirely turned their backs on material from the band's early days. 21st Century Schizoid Band is much truer to the original sound and tradition of King Crimson than the band bearing that name today. Yet, the 21st Century Schizoid Band is not just about recreating the old, but also about re-interpreting it and quite a few of these songs sound better than ever in these confident live versions. In my view this double live CD is a lot more interesting than anything King Crimson proper has put out since the 1970's.

An absolutely superb live album!

SouthSideoftheSky | 5/5 |


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