King Crimson marks debut anniversary with Live At The Orpheum

As a pioneering progressive rock band formed in London in 1968, King Crimson is widely hailed as being at the forefront of the genre by creating a sound that incorporated diverse musical influences from jazz, folk, and classical to experimental forms of psychedelic rock, hard rock, and heavy metal. The band has long enjoyed a large, loyal following despite little chart success or radio airplay. In 1969, the debut King Crimson album, Court of the Crimson King, was released on Island Records. Founder and guitarist Robert Fripp called the album “New York's acid album of 1970,” and Who guitarist Pete Townshend regarded the LP as an “uncanny masterpiece.”

King Crimson’s personnel lineups are as varied as the band’s discography, which includes 13 studio albums, 15 live albums, 13 compilations, 3 extended plays, 14 singles, and 6 video albums. The band gained popularity after supporting The Rolling Stones at Hyde Park, releasing the ground-breaking debut album and maintaining a career that spans four decades. After influencing bands such as Yes, Genesis, Tool, and Porcupine Tree, the group’s latest incarnation is featured on a new project titled Live At The Orpheum—a CD/DVD set from Discipline Global Mobile that coincides with the 46th anniversary of King Crimson's January 1969 formation.

The two-night stand (Sept. 30-Oct. 1) is from the band's sold out, critically acclaimed, 2014 Elements of King Crimson U.S. tour. The 41 minutes of live material by the seven-piece lineup—featuring a trio of drummers—includes classics such as ‘Starless,’ ‘Sailor's Tale,’ and ‘The Letters.’ The set begins with ‘Walk On: Monk Morph Chamber Music’ followed by ‘One More Red Nightmare,’ ‘Banshee Legs Bell Hassle,’ and ‘The ConstruKction of Light.’ Live At The Orpheum was mixed from a 24 bit multi-track recorder during performances at the band's two concerts at the L. A. venue. The mixture of old and new King Crimson compositions includes some music performed live for the first time.

The 2014 tour marked Fripp's return to the band after a lengthy hiatus. He is joined by longtime bass player Tony Levin, woodwinds instrumentalist Mel Collins (who was previously in the band from 1970 to 1972), and guitarist-vocalist Jakko Jakszyk, who sorted and mixed the recordings with Fripp. The three-drummer ensemble included Pat Mastelloto, Gavin Harrison, and Bill Rieflin.

“This incarnation of the group, and there have innumerable ones in its long, on-off history, is its most expansive and possibly its best yet,” declares The Hollywood Reporter with Rolling Stone’s David Fricke adding, “The best new, touring band of 2014 was history with a twist: a British exploratory institution revisiting deep catalog with a tripled emphasis on rhythmic exchange and propulsion.” Live At The Orpheum is King Crimson’s first new recording since the 2003 studio album The Power to Believe, which was followed by EleKtrik: Live in Japan the same year.

“King Crimson is, as always, more a way of doing things. When there is nothing to be done, nothing is done: Crimson disappears. When there is music to be played, Crimson reappears. If all of life were this simple,” muses Fripp in a statement posted on the Discipline Global Mobile website.

Watch King Crimson in a live performance of ‘Starless.’

As A Matter of Fact…

* King Crimson was conceived in November 1968 and launched in January 1969 at the Fulham Palace Café in London. The original lineup included Robert Fripp (guitars), Michael Giles (drums, percussion, backing vocals), Greg Lake (lead vocals, bass), Ian McDonald (woodwinds, keyboards, backing vocals), and Peter Sinfield (lyrics, illumination).

* When the original lineup separated after King Crimson’s initial American tour, the band continued on with a revolving door of players led by Fripp on later albums including The Wake of Poseidon (1970), Lizard (1970), Islands (1971), Earthbound (1972), Larks' Tongues in Aspic (1973), and Red (1974).

* Following the release of Red, Fripp declared, “King Crimson is completely over for ever and ever.” He briefly went to work outside the music industry before returning to record solo projects and collaborate with artists such as Daryl Hall, Blondie, Brian Eno, Peter Gabriel, and David Bowie.

* In 1981, Fripp reformed King Crimson and widened the band’s “musical vocabulary” by combining gamelan percussion with funk and rock grooves on albums including Discipline (1981), Beat (1982), Three Of A Perfect Pair (1984), and the 1984 live album, Absent Lovers: Live in Montreal, which wasn’t released until 1998.

* King Crimson re-emerged in 1994 and released THRAK the following year. The album was recorded in the “double trio” format with Fripp, Adrian Belew (guitar, lead vocals), Tony Levin (bass, Chapman Stick, backing vocals), Trey Gunn (Chapman Stick, backing vocals), and drummers Bill Bruford and Pat Mastelotto.

* King Crimson entered the new millennium with The ConstruKction of Light from 2000, followed the same year by the live set, Heavy ConstruKction. Fripp was back with Belew, Gunn, and Mastelotto in 2003 for the release of the critically acclaimed The Power To Believe.

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