"The Collectable King Crimson: Volume 3: Live in London, Pts. 1-2 1996" (Discipline Global Mobile / Inner Knot; 2008)

Reviewed by Christopher J. Kelter

Live recordings tend to be a mixed bag for me. But sometimes I am treated to something out of the ordinary with live recordings – rearrangements, different pacing, improvisations, solos, etc. shed light on the songs we think we know so well. Such is the case with King Crimson’s “The Collectable King Crimson: Volume 3” from London’s Shepherds Bush Empire in 1996.

Recorded at the end of a six-week touring stint in Europe this King Crimson show starts in earnest with the rapid pacing of the dual drum attack of “Conundrum” followed by a spirited performance of “Thela Hun Ginjeet.” These two tracks set the tone for nearly the entire concert.  The liner notes frequently use the term “turbo charged” to describe the show and the aggressive performances bear that out.

The set list the evening of this performance is heavy on classics and later era King Crimson. Classics include “Three of a Perfect Pair,” “Larks’ Tongues In Aspic, Pt. II,” and “Elephant Talk.” King Crimson, perhaps sensing the unique nature of the performance, played the ultra classic “21st Century Schizoid Man” for the first time in more than two decades. “Frame by Frame” is played at an unreal pace – apparently on the whim of master guitarist Adrian Belew who surprised even his veteran bandmates. Trey Gunn, always an interesting colorist via his “touch” guitar, shades the tracks with tones not normally used by the average band. Tony Levin, he of the human heartbeat bass, is stellar as usual.  Fripp, the disciplined leader, is ever present conducting the unique King Crimson sound. Drummers Pat Mastelotto and Bill Bruford weave a wall of percussion into a solid foundation.

The bottom line is that this recording has excellent sound – the audio comes straight from the band’s soundboard. Additionally, the tight, nearly flawless performance adds to the impressive weight that this recording has.

“The Collectable King Crimson: Volume 3” comes with a *bonus* of sorts.  The opening band, the California Guitar Trio, was unable to perform the evening of this particular concert. King Crimson mainman Robert Fripp filled the void performing his unique “soundscape” technique for more than 22 minutes. This live recording contains the entire performance – the “soundscapes” are leisurely paced, but somehow Fripp is able to harness the sounds he’s making into an interesting, if not cohesive, collage of music. In recent years the metal listening consumer has gotten used to hearing Fripp as a result of his appearances on Joe Satriani and Porcupine Tree albums. This opening performance showcases one of rock’s most daring musicians; as a bonus it allows the listener to hear what might be buried in other artists’ mix.  

Highly recommended for King Crimson fans and fans of technical, progressive metal/rock.

“The Collectable King Crimson: Volume 3” was produced by David Singleton and Alex R. Mundy.

King Crimson is Robert Fripp on guitar and soundscapes, Adrian Belew on guitar and voice, Trey Gunn on touch guitar, Tony Levin on bass and Stick, and Pat Mastelotto and Bill Bruford on percussion and acoustic/electric drums.

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Rating Guide:

A classic. This record will kick your ass.

Killer. Not a classic but it will rock your world.

So-so. You've heard better.

Pretty bad. Might make a nice coaster.

Self explanatory. Just the sight of the cover makes you wanna hurl.

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Copyright © 2008 by R. Scott Bolton. All rights reserved.
Revised: 03 Apr 2022 15:56:16 -0400.