Islands is the fourth studio album by English band King Crimson, released in December 1971 on the record label Island. Islands is the only studio album to feature the 1971-1972 touring line-up of Robert Fripp, Mel Collins, Boz Burrell and Ian Wallace. This would be the last album before an entirely new group (except for Fripp) would record the trilogy of Larks' Tongues in Aspic, Starless and Bible Black and Red between 1973-1974. This is also the last album to feature the lyrics of co-founding member Peter Sinfield.
|Studio album by|
|Released||3 December 1971|
|Recorded||22 July–3 October 1971|
|King Crimson chronology|
|King Crimson studio chronology|
|Peter Sinfield chronology|
The album received a mixed response from critics.
The harmonic basis for the tune "The Letters" is derived from the Giles, Giles and Fripp song "Why Don't You Just Drop In", available on The Brondesbury Tapes compilation. The bridge section is also taken from the King Crimson version of the song, performed by the original line-up, titled simply "Drop In" and later released on the live-album Epitaph.
The lyrics to "Ladies of the Road" are a series of male sexual fantasies revolving around "girls of the road", i.e. groupies. Lyricist Peter Sinfield later commented on the song: "... everybody writes at least one groupie song. We shouldn't. But we do. It is the ultimate sexist lyric of all time. I couldn't imagine anyone taking it too seriously, because in those days you were still able to say things like 'my lady' with a capital M and a capital L." [emphasis in original]
The original basis for the song "Prelude: Song of the Gulls" is derived from the Giles, Giles and Fripp song "Suite No. 1".
The first vinyl release of the album features a hidden track. At the end of side two there is a recording of studio chatter followed by Fripp saying, among other things, "...What we're going to do, umm... do it twice more, once with the oboe, once without it, and then... we finish." This was included on the initial CD release but was accidentally left off the first pressings of the 1989 Definitive Edition CD remaster. It was restored on all subsequent reissues, and has been used as "walk on" music for all shows starting in 2014.
The original United Kingdom and European cover depicts the Trifid Nebula in Sagittarius and displays neither the name of the band nor the title. The original United States and Canadian album cover (as released by Atlantic) was a Peter Sinfield painting of off-white with coloured "islands". This was used as an internal gatefold sleeve in the UK. When the King Crimson catalogue was re-issued by EG, they standardised on the "Trifid Nebula" cover worldwide.
The album was re-released in 2010 as the fifth release in King Crimson's 40th Anniversary series, featuring new stereo and 5.1 surround mixes by Steven Wilson and Robert Fripp, Sid Smith sleeve notes and extra tracks and alternative versions. The DVD-A presents a 5.1 surround sound mix by Wilson, a hi-res stereo version of the 2010 mix, a hi-res stereo version of the original album mix taken from the 30th anniversary master source and previously unreleased material, including studio takes mixed from the original recording sessions.
|All About Jazz|||
|Christgau's Record Guide||C|
|Encyclopedia of Popular Music|||
|The Great Rock Discography||7/10|
In its current review, AllMusic called it "the weakest Crimson studio album from their first era" that "is only a real disappointment in relation to the extraordinarily high quality of the group's earlier efforts."
|2.||"Sailor's Tale" (Fripp)||7:29|
|4.||"Ladies of the Road"||5:31|
|5.||"Prelude: Song of the Gulls" (Fripp)||4:14|
|6.||"Islands" (includes minute of silence and hidden track)||11:51|
|Australia (Kent Music Report)||49|
|Canada Top Albums/CDs (RPM)||52|
|German Albums (Offizielle Top 100)||35|
|Japanese Albums (Oricon)||61|
|UK Albums (OCC)||30|
|US Billboard 200||76|
- King Crimson
- Robert Fripp – guitar, mellotron, harmonium (6), production
- Peter Sinfield – lyrics, cover design and painting, production
- Mel Collins – saxophones, flute, bass flute (6), backing vocals, production
- Ian Wallace – drums, percussion, backing vocals, production
- Boz – bass, lead vocals, production
- Additional personnel
- Paulina Lucas – soprano vocals (1)
- Keith Tippett – piano
- Robin Miller – oboe
- Mark Charig – cornet
- Harry Miller – double bass (1, 6)
- Wilf Gibson - violin (1), string orchestra leader (5, 6) (uncredited)
- Uncredited musicians – strings (2, 5, 6)
- Andy Hendrikson – recording, engineering
- Tony Arnold – mastering
- Vick & Mike – equipment
- Robert Ellis – photography
- 2009 40th Anniversary Series re-issue personnel
- Steven Wilson – mixing, production, compilation and coordination input and suggestions
- Simon Heyworth (Super Audio Mastering) – stereo file preparation, 5.1 mastering
- Claire Bidwell (Opus Productions) – DVD design and layout
- Neil Wilkes (Opus Productions) – DVD authoring and assembly
- Jon Urban, Bob Romano, Bob Squires, Patrick Cleasby, Tim McDonnell & Chris Gerhard – DVD QC testing
- Kevin Vanbergen (FX Copyroom) – multitrack tape restoration and transfers
- Alex R. Mundy – DGM tape archiving
- Hugh O'Donnell – package art and design
- Declan Colgan (DGM) – compilation, coordination
- Sid Smith – liner notes, compilation and coordination input and suggestions
- John Kimber – US vinyl record sleeve scan
- Holm-Hudson, Kevin (2013). Progressive Rock Reconsidered. Routledge. p. 215. ISBN 978-1-13571-022-4.
- Holmes, Thom (1985). Electronic and experimental music. Scribner's. p. 204. ISBN 978-0-68418-395-4.
By the time Islands was released, the group had shifted from the sophomoric karma that characterized their earlier records to a more artsy attempt at jazz fusion.
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- Christgau, Robert (1981). "Consumer Guide '70s: K". Christgau's Record Guide: Rock Albums of the Seventies. Ticknor & Fields. ISBN 089919026X. Retrieved 28 February 2019 – via robertchristgau.com.
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- Mike Barnes. "The Crown Jewels". Mojo. Retrieved 31 July 2020.
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- Bangs, L. (2011). "King Crimson: Islands : Music Reviews : Rolling Stone". Rolling Stone. Archived from the original on 28 October 2007. Retrieved 25 July 2011.
- Aaron W. (5 May 2013). "Review: King Crimson - Islands | Sputnikmusic". Sputnikmusic. Retrieved 31 July 2020.
- Kent, David (1993). Australian Chart Book 1970–1992 (illustrated ed.). St Ives, N.S.W.: Australian Chart Book. p. 167. ISBN 0-646-11917-6.
- "Top RPM Albums: Issue 7734". RPM. Library and Archives Canada. Retrieved 6 January 2020.
- "Offiziellecharts.de – King Crimson – Islands" (in German). GfK Entertainment Charts. Retrieved 6 January 2020.
- Oricon Album Chart Book: Complete Edition 1970–2005 (in Japanese). Roppongi, Tokyo: Oricon Entertainment. 2006. ISBN 4-87131-077-9.
- "King Crimson | Artist | Official Charts". UK Albums Chart. Retrieved 23 February 2016.
- "King Crimson Chart History (Billboard 200)". Billboard. Retrieved 23 February 2016.
- "King Crimson - Formentera Lady (Instrumental Edit)". YouTube. 2 November 2020.
Although his work on the album is uncredited, Wilf [...] was the leader for the small string orchestra that appeared on Prelude Of The Gulls.