Friday, July 9, 2010

King Crimson - In the Wake of Poseidon


In the Wake of Poseidon is kind of a mess. There wasn't much of a real band at this point- Greg Lake was leaving to form ELP, Michael Giles was just a session drummer, and Ian McDonald is nowhere to be found. Yet it's not completely terrible, even though it is a bit of a rehash of the first album. "Pictures of a City" uses vocal effects similar to Schizoid Man, the title track is basically a rewrite of Epitaph, and "The Devil's Triangle" does for noise what Moonchild did for silence.
Some of this material had already been written and performed live with the original lineup, and other tracks were specifically written for this release. Songs in the latter category include an okay song called "Cadence and Cascade" that's kind of spoiled by lame vocals (performed by Gordon Haskell, a childhood friend of Robert Fripp, probably because Lake wasn't available) and three acoustic toss-offs that go nowhere. "Cat Food" was written when McDonald was still in the band, but it's a humorous piano jazz piece that doesn't sound like anything on In the Court, and "The Devil's Triangle" is a lengthy avant-garde piece that's actually interesting (it samples from the first album! Sampling! In 1970!), even though not all of it works (it incorporates Holst's Mars, the Bringer of War, but it's a bit clunky; other bands would do a much better job of adopting classical pieces later on)
Despite the fact that Poseidon isn't too innovative, it's still pretty good and should do a decent job of whetting the appetite of anyone who loved the debut. It isn't quite essential, but it's still worth seeking out.

1 comment:

  1. Although I didn't comment there, wanted to say I enjoyed your posts on Elf.

    Not sure there's as much separation between Court and Wake as you suggest, and that's probably not 'cause you underrate Wake, but rather because you overrate Court. I think that's something that's historically been done, ever since Pete Townsend called the album an "uncanny masterpiece."

    I myself remember talking it up beyond sensibility when I first heard it in the early '80's. But in a way my high opinion of it didn't reconcile with the fact that most of "Moonchild" is boe-ring, and that, let's face it, "I Talk to the Wind" is kind of blah as well. I don't remember reading any critical opinion back in the day that mentioned either of these rather obvious things.

    I think its possible that the internet opinion to which you refer in your intro doesn't necessarily underrate Court, but simply represents a somewhat-needed correction.

    "21st Century Schizoid Man" was undeniably a radical step forward, and the prominent place given the mellotron throughout was something new as well, but I'm happy thinking of this as a very good album with extraordinary high spots--and some corresponding low ones.

    Simply as an aside, I might mention that as good as I still think "21st" is, "Cat Food" probably remains my favorite song from either of the first two . . .