King Crimson is one of those bands of mystique that has long roots and history from the late 60’s to what I would consider it’s heyday in the early to mid eighties. I am not going to try and do an oral history, wikipedia does more than a great job at that, but even with the large swath of information that is the Internet King Crimson can be hard a hard band to approach and appreciate. So this post is geared more as an introduction using “Discipline” which is probably one of their most popular albums with a cohesive representation of this classic line up and even though it has a relatively short set list of 7 tracks it is still very powerful and due to it’s very melodic lyrics has an easier entry point than other works which due to complexity and different and varying musical styles can take a bit more patience to appreciate and enjoy.
Here are the five tracks that will ease you in to King Crimson and the album Discipline:
1. Elephant Talk – This is the track that pretty much everyone knows other than maybe tracks off the first album “In the Court of the Crimson King”. It starts off with Tony Levin’s expert chapman stick playing that is super catchy and pretty much carries the entire song in addition to Adrian’s unique and quirky lyrics. This is a standard for both King Crimson concerts and Adrian’s power trio.
2. Frame by Frame – The track starts off with a very busy intro full of energy and layers but settles down in to a groove that is beautiful yet haunting. The lyrics are long and labored providing a cresendo of tension that is a wonderful vehicle used to transition back and forth between the intro theme and the main melody. This is a standard live which again I’ve seen Adrian do with his power trio and with KC.
3. Matte Kudasi – Probably my overall favorite on the album. This track starts out with Fripp and Adrian interplaying playing lead and rhythm over the most beautiful lyrics that are again a bit haunting but are powerful and effective at creating tension and resolution through the guitar work with the entire assemble adding to paint a complete song master piece.
4. Thela Hun Ginjeet – This ‘Rocker’ has a unique musical approach interwinding lyrics with a free form story telling and like the title track has a bit of spoken word feel to it. I will admit that this song in recent years has grown on me in terms of the jam aspect of the guitar rift, I’ve always enjoyed the story which has a unique background in of itself.
5. Sheltering Sky – This instrumental track to me is the closer for the album with Andrian starting out playig the rhythm and Robert Fripp playing the lead, a bit of a role reversal from the typical musical roles, building the tension before making a transition to Adrian on lead and the whole band building up to a point of pure release with an amazing outro switching back to Adrian of rhythm and Fripp on lead. This truly shows off the power that this assemble had at building up and tearing down the musical tension.
Adrian Belew guitar & lead vocal
Robert Fripp guitar
Tony Levin bass, Stick & vocal
Bill Bruford drums & percussion
To get a better idea of this music live, there’s a DVD recording the band did in Japan called “Neal and Jack and Me” which contains that concert from 1982 which plays most of this album and another japan concert from 1984 that contains additional tracks from other albums.