Monday, July 12, 2010

King Crimson - Lizard

8/10

This album isn't too well liked, which is a shame because I think it's wonderful. It's very horn-heavy, and the songs' atmospheres range from dark (Cirkus) to epic (the titular suite, the only sidelength that King Crimson ever recorded) to sickly sweet (Lady of the Dancing Water) to quirky (Happy Family, Indoor Games). One of the reasons that this album gets panned so often is that Gordon Haskell did most of the vocals, and he's really, really not a good singer. His voice works fairly well on the opening song, Cirkus, where it fits in well with the dark lyrics and mellotron, but he just sounds goofy on most of the other tracks. The only other vocal performance I enjoyed on this album was a guest performance by Jon Anderson of Yes in the first part of the title track.
But the music is excellent. Lizard is a very fusion-esque album, and the title suite in particular has all sorts of lengthy instrumental passages that are dominated by reeds, brass and piano. If you're not into jazzy stuff, this will sound little better than the endless noodling in Moonchild, but if you're like me, you live for this shit.
NOTE: The 40th Anniversary remaster of this album is the one you need. I normally don't put much of an emphasis on remasters, but this one sounds like a completely redone version at times. Not all of the production changes work well (there are some vocal effects added to Happy Family that I didn't like), but they're great improvements in most cases.

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