8 Songs, 1 Hour 17 Minutes

EDITORS’ NOTES

In the context of King Crimson’s difficult career, 1974’s Red represents another career high point. The band strip down to the trio of drummer Bill Bruford, bassist/vocalist John Wetton, and guitarist/Mellotron man Robert Fripp, with a number of guests performing key passages. Each song qualifies as a classic, with the 12-minute closing epic “Starless” providing a catharsis that few pieces in Western music achieve. Mel Collins’ and Ian MacDonald’s saxophones are beyond sublime. Adding three bonus cuts, including the live Central Park version of “Starless," proves you can never have too much of a groundbreaking thing.

Apple Digital Master

EDITORS’ NOTES

In the context of King Crimson’s difficult career, 1974’s Red represents another career high point. The band strip down to the trio of drummer Bill Bruford, bassist/vocalist John Wetton, and guitarist/Mellotron man Robert Fripp, with a number of guests performing key passages. Each song qualifies as a classic, with the 12-minute closing epic “Starless” providing a catharsis that few pieces in Western music achieve. Mel Collins’ and Ian MacDonald’s saxophones are beyond sublime. Adding three bonus cuts, including the live Central Park version of “Starless," proves you can never have too much of a groundbreaking thing.

Mastered for iTunes
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Ratings and Reviews

4.8 out of 5
112 Ratings

112 Ratings

onthewall2983 ,

Their finest hour

So glad these will be available for iTunes now. I own the albums, but am excited for those at least curious about this great band. This in particular is the culmination of greatnes that started with Larks' Tongues in Aspic, continued with Starless And Bible Black and a long touring schedule where their chops were refined. Kurt Cobain cited this as one of his favorite records, and is arguably the first progressive album with overt heavy metal elements.

CtznSldr ,

Must have

King Crimson's 3 best albums are now on itunes. Just wait for Tool to follow suit. Along with ITCOTCK, Red is their most celebrated album, and "Starless" is generally considered their best song if not the greatest song in all of progressive rock. This is where King Crimson showed their heavy yet melodic side, and it has inspired everyone from Nirvana to Tool.

gen14 ,

The Sundown of a Dazzling Day

By late 1974, King Crimson had recently completed a major tour in support of the Starless And Bible Black album, and were, despite the recent firing of David Cross, reaching a new peak of compositional and improvisational skill. After finishing off the US leg of the tour, Fripp and company entered the studio to complete Red, which would sadly be their final record together, KC's final record of the 1970s, and one of their greatest albums of all time.

Paring Crimson down to a trio meant losing the talents of two very fine players, but also opened up a lot of space within the music for the new trio to work with. This is immediately apparent on the fiery opening title cut, which was, along with "Larks' Tongues Part Two" and the occasional "21st Century Schizoid Man", one of only three pieces to survive KC's 1974 demise. "Red", despite its intensity, is one of the simplest compositions KC cut during their initial run. It features Mark Charig, a former contributor on Poseidon, Lizard, and Islands, on bass cello in the extended middle section, the first of many guest appearances used to flesh out the group's sound over the course of the record. Next up is "Fallen Angel", which has the sad honor of being the final appearance of an acoustic guitar on a KC album, and also features Charig, this time on his main instrument, cornet, as well as Robin Miller, another former collaborator, on oboe. Their contributions lend the song's dynamic middle section a significantly jazzy feel, echoing the albums on which the had previously been a part. "One More Red Nightmare" closes out side one, and features a major usage of tritones, giving the piece a savage quality that is matched by the flurried solos of former member Ian MacDonald on alto saxophone. The tracks lyrics, penned by Wetton, mirror the dark nature of the piece in their depiction of a man's nightmare of a doomed flight while fast asleep on a Greyhound bus. A brilliant closer to a brilliant first side.

Side two opens with the improvisation "Providence", named after the tour stop on which it was performed. The piece does not really develop until well over its halfway point, and is easily the weakest part of the album. I wonder why King Crimson chose this piece for Red when, in my opinion, other improvisations from their previous tour were far stronger and more dynamic. At any rate, this track marks the final appearance of David Cross on a KC track, and in a way serves as an extended prelude to what is probably the greatest KC song of all time, "Starless".

While I could write an essay on my feelings for "Starless", I will make a long story short by saying that the piece acts as a musical encapsulation of all King Crimson was capable of and had accomplished during their initial 6 year run. Opening with an ocean of mellotron, the track runs for nearly for minutes as an elegiac ballad, featuring truly beautiful lyrics that remain some of the most powerful KC has ever devised. This gives way to a lengthy instrumental movement that builds from a skeletal Robert Fripp guitar riff into an explosive climax that touches on many of the styles KC had employed over the course of their career, even featuring both of the bands previous woodwind players, Ian MacDonald and Mel Collins, on alto and soprano sax respectively. Returning to its opening theme after nearly 8 minutes of a truly epic buildup is one of the most cathartic musical experiences I have ever had, and is even more powerful now that I can say I have seen it live (I caught the 2014 reunion tour; this track as the closer brought the house down!).

Though Robert Fripp would tragically end the band immediately following its release, and abandon most of the material he had worked on before KC's 1980s rebirth, Red stands as one of the all-time masterworks, and is clearly in the running for one of the greatest records of the 1970s, if not all time.

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