Red (King Crimson album)

Red is the seventh studio album by English progressive rock group King Crimson. It was released on 6 October 1974 through Island Records in the United Kingdom and Atlantic Records in North America. It was their last studio recording of the 1970s and the last before lead member Robert Fripp temporarily disbanded the group. Though their lowest-charting album at the time, spending only one week in the UK charts, Red has received significant critical acclaim.

Red
Red, King Crimson.jpg
Studio album by
Released6 October 1974
Recorded30 June – August 1974
VenuePalace Theater, Providence, RI
StudioOlympic, London
GenreProgressive rock
Length39:54
Label
ProducerKing Crimson
King Crimson chronology
Starless and Bible Black
(1974)
Red
(1974)
USA
(1975)
King Crimson studio chronology
Starless and Bible Black
(1974)
Red
(1974)
Discipline
(1981)

Writing and recordingEdit

Much of the material on Red has origins in improvisation. Motifs that would eventually be used for "Fallen Angel" were first played by Robert Fripp in 1972, as part of improvs performed with the quintet lineup that would record Larks' Tongues In Aspic. These improvisations are documented as "Fallen Angel" and "Fallen Angel Hullabaloo" in the Larks' Tongues in Aspic: The Complete Recordings box set, as well as standalone releases of their respective concerts. The distinctive introduction to "One More Red Nightmare" was also deployed by John Wetton and Robert Fripp in various improvs throughout 1974, which can be heard in the Starless (box set) and The Road to Red box sets. One notable performance is titled "The Golden Walnut". Lastly, "Providence" itself was an improv, taken from the group's show on 30 June in Providence, Rhode Island. It has been included in its uncut form as part of various live sets, such as The Great Deceiver, as well as the 40th Anniversary Edition of Red itself.

"Red" was composed solely by Robert Fripp. In an analysis of the piece by Andrew Keeling, he describes "Red" as "an instrumental piece scored for electric guitar (multi-tracked X3), bass guitar and drums," as well as "one of the more muscular pieces of Robert Fripp's, in particular the deployment of open strings and heavily attacked and syncopated bass and drums."[1] In an online diary from 2012, Robert Fripp speaks about the development of "Red": "A motif; moved from [the missing piece] "Blue" to "Red": the opening and closing theme of "Red" itself. The driving, relentless figure that follows it, and the middle figure played by the basses, weren't enough for a complete piece."[2] Speaking about it in the book accompanying the Larks' Tongues in Aspic: The Complete Recordings box set, he says, "After we had just recorded the track "Red" in [Olympic Studios] ... we played it back and Bill said, 'I don't get it, but if you tell me it's good, I trust you.' ... I said, 'We don't have to use it.' John was in no doubt: 'We'll use it.'"[3] In retrospect, "Red" has been considered an influence on avant-garde metal.[4] PopMatters ranked "Red" as the twentieth best progressive rock song of all time.[5] An unused rhythmical variation of the song's middle section would see light more than two decades later, when it was included in 1995's Thrak album as the middle section of the instrumental Vrooom Vrooom track (albeit with Tony Levin’s bass and Trey Gunn’s Chapman Stick in place of Wetton).[6]

"Starless" was originally written by Wetton, with the intent of it being the title track for Starless and Bible Black. At the time, the piece consisted only of the vocal section of the song, and Wetton claims that it got a "cold reception" from both Robert Fripp and Bill Bruford. Later, an introductory theme was written by Robert Fripp and performed on violin by David Cross, and two additional sections were added after the vocal, one being contributed by Bruford.[7] The final section reprises various themes from earlier in the song, and it also re-uses a bass part which was originally written for the song "Fracture".[8] This early arrangement of "Fracture" can be heard on discs 1 and 25 of the Starless box set, as well as the standalone releases of their respective concerts. The lyrics went through several iterations, with one early verse later included by Wetton in "Caesar's Palace Blues," a song he would perform with U.K.[9] Since the title "Starless and Bible Black" was already used for an improvisation on the group's previous album, the song's title was shortened to "Starless".[7] On Red, "Starless" is credited to the quartet, as well as lyricist Richard Palmer-James.

The lyrics to the three songs on the album were not originally included as part of the packaging for the album, unlike all previous Crimson studio albums, which always had lyrics printed either on the inside of the gatefold covers, or on the custom innersleeves. This led to some occasional confusion amongst listeners about precisely what was being sung, particularly on the song "One More Red Nightmare." The first printing of the lyrics would occur 26 years after the album's initial release, on the 2000 '30th Anniversary Edition' release.

Near the conclusion of King Crimson's 1974 North American tour, the decision was made to kick Cross out of the band. EG, the band's management, urged Fripp not to tell Cross until after the final date of the tour, but he would not be able to anyway; he would not return from the United States until after Cross would return to Europe. Fripp reached an agreement with EG that they would tell Cross, "on proviso that [he] is told that I objected to not telling him personally." Despite reaching this agreement, Cross would not be told about the decision for him to leave the band until the day before the recording of Red began.[10] In his stead, the band brought back several contributors to past albums: Robin Miller on oboe, Marc Charig on cornet, Ian McDonald and Mel Collins on saxophone, as well as an uncredited cellist.[11]

Red sees King Crimson follow in the direction established by their previous two albums, Larks' Tongues in Aspic and Starless and Bible Black, but in contrast to those albums, Red features more layered production with several guitar overdubs on certain tracks, as well as the return of earlier instrumentation such as saxophone. Red having a heavier tone was largely due to the rhythm section of John Wetton and Bill Bruford, which Fripp has referred to as "the flying brick wall". During the recording of the album, Fripp took a "backseat" when making large decisions.[12] He had decided to take "a year's sabbatical ... at Bennett's Institute,"[13] and offered the idea of McDonald rejoining the band in his absence to EG. When this idea was met with disinterest, Fripp abruptly disbanded King Crimson on 24 September 1974, and Red was released a month later.[14]

Release and receptionEdit

Professional ratings
Review scores
SourceRating
AllMusic     [15]
Christgau's Record GuideA–[16]
Classic Rock          [17]
Mojo     [18]
Pitchfork9.0/10[19]

Released in October 1974, Red spent only one week on the British charts, at No. 45, whereas all the band's previous studio albums had reached the Top 30. In the United States, it reached No. 66 on the Billboard 200. However, it remained a popular album with fans and critics.

Retrospective reviews were resoundingly positive. In theirs, AllMusic declared Red to be weaker than its two predecessors, but nonetheless a superlative work: "few intact groups could have gotten an album as good as Red together. The fact that it was put together by a band in its death throes makes it all the more impressive an achievement."[15] Robert Christgau also applauded the album, having been generally critical of the group's past work, calling it "Grand, powerful, grating, and surprisingly lyrical" and commenting that "this does for classical-rock fusion what John McLaughlin's Devotion did for jazz-rock fusion."[16] Classic Rock reviewer considered Red "a walk down a lightless corridor and an unhappy and ferocious counterbalance to the frolics of King Crimson's beginnings", and described it as "dark, brooding and laden with heavily distorted sections and a decidedly melancholic vibe".[17]

Like most of King Crimson's catalogue, Red has been re-released numerous times since its release. First issued on CD in 1986, it has also been released as part of the Definitive Edition and 30th Anniversary Edition series. In 2009, Red was chosen, alongside In the Court of the Crimson King and Lizard, to launch the 40th Anniversary Edition series. As part of this series, each album is presented in a CD/DVD-A package, with new stereo and 5.1 surround mixes. Unlike most others in series, however, Red launched with no new stereo mix. In 2013, Steven Wilson and Robert Fripp produced a stereo remix for The Road To Red, and this mix was issued separately as part of a 2CD package.

LegacyEdit

In 2001, Q magazine named Red as one of the "50 Heaviest Albums of All Time"[20] and Kurt Cobain had reportedly cited the album as a major influence.[21][22] Musicologists Eric Tamm and Edward Macan both consider Red, and particularly the track "Starless", to be the highlight of King Crimson's recorded output.

The title track was ranked number 87 in Rolling Stone's list of "The 100 Greatest Guitar Songs".[23] Pitchfork ranked Red number 72 in its "Top 100 Albums of the 1970s" list, stating that "For a band that was very obviously about to splinter, King Crimson's music sounds remarkably of a single mind. On Red, they achieved a remarkable balance between bone-crushing brutality and cerebral complexity."[24]

The title track was covered by Canadian rock band Glueleg in their 1994 debut Heroic Doses, with this version featuring saxophone and trumpet.[25]

"Starless" is played over the opening titles of the 2018 horror film Mandy.

Track listingEdit

Side A
No.TitleWriter(s)Length
1."Red"Robert Fripp6:20
2."Fallen Angel"Fripp, John Wetton, Richard Palmer-James6:00
3."One More Red Nightmare"Fripp, Wetton7:07
Side B
No.TitleWriter(s)Length
4."Providence"David Cross, Fripp, Wetton, Bill Bruford8:08
5."Starless"Cross, Fripp, Wetton, Bruford, Palmer-James12:18

2009 40th Anniversary editionEdit

Disc one – CD – Original Album – bonus tracks
No.TitleWriter(s)Length
1."Red" (Original Album)Robert Fripp6:20
2."Fallen Angel" (Original Album)Fripp, John Wetton, Richard Palmer-James6:00
3."One More Red Nightmare" (Original Album)Fripp, Wetton7:07
4."Providence" (Original Album)David Cross, Fripp, Wetton, Bill Bruford8:08
5."Starless" (Original Album)Cross, Fripp, Wetton, Bruford, Palmer-James12:18
6."Red" (Bonus Tracks – Pre-overdub trio version)Fripp6:27
7."Fallen Angel" (Bonus Tracks – Pre-overdub trio version instrumental)Fripp, Wetton6:26
8."Providence" (Bonus Tracks – Unedited live version taken from The Great Deceiver)Cross, Fripp, Wetton, Bruford10:09
Disc two – DVD-A (various mixes, bonuses and video content)
No.TitleWriter(s)Length
1."Red" (Original Album [MLP Lossless Stereo (24/96) / PCM Stereo 2.0 (24/48)])Robert Fripp6:20
2."Fallen Angel" (Original Album [MLP Lossless Stereo (24/96) / PCM Stereo 2.0 (24/48)])Fripp, John Wetton, Richard Palmer-James6:00
3."One More Red Nightmare" (Original Album [MLP Lossless Stereo (24/96) / PCM Stereo 2.0 (24/48)])Fripp, Wetton7:07
4."Providence" (Original Album [MLP Lossless Stereo (24/96) / PCM Stereo 2.0 (24/48)])David Cross, Fripp, Wetton, Bill Bruford8:08
5."Starless" (Original Album [MLP Lossless Stereo (24/96) / PCM Stereo 2.0 (24/48)])Cross, Fripp, Wetton, Bruford, Palmer-James12:18
6."Red" (Bonus Tracks [MLP Lossless Stereo (24/96) / PCM Stereo 2.0 (24/48)] – Pre-overdub trio version)Fripp6:27
7."Fallen Angel" (Bonus Tracks [MLP Lossless Stereo (24/96) / PCM Stereo 2.0 (24/48)] – Pre-overdub trio version instrumental)Fripp, Wetton6:26
8."Providence" (Bonus Tracks [MLP Lossless Stereo (24/96) / PCM Stereo 2.0 (24/48)] – Unedited live version taken from The Great Deceiver)Cross, Fripp, Wetton, Bruford10:09
9."Red" (Original Album [MLP Lossless 5.1 Surround / DTS 5.1 Digital Surround])Robert Fripp6:20
10."Fallen Angel" (Original Album [MLP Lossless 5.1 Surround / DTS 5.1 Digital Surround])Fripp, John Wetton, Richard Palmer-James6:00
11."One More Red Nightmare" (Original Album [MLP Lossless 5.1 Surround / DTS 5.1 Digital Surround])Fripp, Wetton7:07
12."Providence" (Original Album [MLP Lossless 5.1 Surround / DTS 5.1 Digital Surround])David Cross, Fripp, Wetton, Bill Bruford8:08
13."Starless" (Original Album [MLP Lossless 5.1 Surround / DTS 5.1 Digital Surround])Cross, Fripp, Wetton, Bruford, Palmer-James12:18
14."Red" (Bonus Tracks [MLP Lossless 5.1 Surround / DTS 5.1 Digital Surround] – Pre-overdub trio version)Fripp6:27
15."Fallen Angel" (Bonus Tracks [MLP Lossless 5.1 Surround / DTS 5.1 Digital Surround] – Pre-overdub trio version instrumental)Fripp, Wetton6:26
16."Providence" (Bonus Tracks [MLP Lossless 5.1 Surround / DTS 5.1 Digital Surround] – Unedited live version taken from The Great Deceiver)Cross, Fripp, Wetton, Bruford10:09
17."Larks' Tongues in Aspic: Part II" (Video Content – Audio: Mono – ORTF TV studio, Paris, France, 22 March 1974)Fripp 
18."The Night Watch" (Video Content – Audio: Mono – ORTF TV studio, Paris, France, 22 March 1974)Fripp, Wetton, Palmer-James 
19."Lament" (Video Content – Audio: Mono – ORTF TV studio, Paris, France, 22 March 1974)Fripp, Wetton, Palmer-James 
20."Starless" (Video Content – Audio: Mono – ORTF TV studio, Paris, France, 22 March 1974)Cross, Fripp, Wetton, Bruford, Palmer-James 

n.b. see the related release The Road to Red for further 40th anniversary edition track listings.

2013 2-CD editionEdit

2013 2-CD Edition disc 1 – Original 1974 Album, 30th Anniversary Remaster – bonus tracks
No.TitleWriter(s)Length
1."Red" (Original 1974 Album, 30th Anniversary Remaster)Robert Fripp6:20
2."Fallen Angel" (Original 1974 Album, 30th Anniversary Remaster)Fripp, John Wetton, Richard Palmer-James6:00
3."One More Red Nightmare" (Original 1974 Album, 30th Anniversary Remaster)Fripp, Wetton7:07
4."Providence" (Original 1974 Album, 30th Anniversary Remaster)David Cross, Fripp, Wetton, Bill Bruford8:08
5."Starless" (Original 1974 Album, 30th Anniversary Remaster)Cross, Fripp, Wetton, Bruford, Palmer-James12:18
6."Providence" (Bonus Tracks – Unedited live version from The Great Deceiver)Cross, Fripp, Wetton, Bruford 
7."Starless" (Bonus Tracks – Live)Cross, Fripp, Wetton, Bruford, Palmer-James 
2013 2-CD Edition disc 2 – 2013 Stereo Mix – bonus tracks
No.TitleWriter(s)Length
1."Red" (2013 Stereo Mix)Robert Fripp6:20
2."Fallen Angel" (2013 Stereo Mix)Fripp, John Wetton, Richard Palmer-James6:00
3."One More Red Nightmare" (2013 Stereo Mix)Fripp, Wetton7:07
4."Providence" (2013 Stereo Mix)David Cross, Fripp, Wetton, Bill Bruford8:08
5."Starless" (2013 Stereo Mix)Cross, Fripp, Wetton, Bruford, Palmer-James12:18
6."Red" (Bonus Tracks – Pre-overdub trio version)Fripp 
7."Fallen Angel" (Bonus Tracks – Pre-overdub trio version)Fripp, Wetton, Palmer-James 

2019 Spotify editionEdit

No.TitleWriter(s)Length
1."Red"Robert Fripp6:20
2."Fallen Angel"Fripp, John Wetton, Richard Palmer-James6:00
3."One More Red Nightmare"Fripp, Wetton7:07
4."Providence"David Cross, Fripp, Wetton, Bill Bruford8:08
5."Starless"Cross, Fripp, Wetton, Bruford, Palmer-James12:18
6."Improv: A Voyage to the Centre of the Cosmos"Cross, Fripp, Wetton, Bruford14:58
7."Improv: Providence" (full version)Cross, Fripp, Wetton, Bruford,10:01
8."Starless" (live in Central Park)Cross, Fripp, Wetton, Bruford, Palmer-James12:03

PersonnelEdit

King Crimson – production, arrangements

Former King Crimson personnel

Additional personnel

ChartsEdit

Chart (1974) Peak
position
US Billboard 200[26] 66

ReferencesEdit

  1. ^ Keeling, Andrew. "King Crimson: Red – An Analysis by Andrew Keeling". Song Soup on Sea. Peter Sinfield. Retrieved 30 January 2018.
  2. ^ Fripp, Robert (12 June 2012). "DGM HQ". DGM Live. Discipline Global Mobile. Retrieved 24 August 2019.
  3. ^ Singleton, David (2012). "Robert Fripp interviwed by David Singleton". Larks' Tongues in Aspic: The Complete Recordings. p. 10.
  4. ^ The Mojo Collection: 4th Edition. Canongate Books. 2007. p. 337. ISBN 9781847676436.
  5. ^ Murphy, Sean (22 May 2011). "The 25 Best Progressive Rock Songs of All Time". PopMatters. Retrieved 4 April 2019.
  6. ^ https://www.dgmlive.com/in-depth/the-double-trio-robert-fripp
  7. ^ a b Curtiss, Ron; Weiner, Aaron (3 June 2016). "John Wetton (King Crimson, U.K., Asia): The Complete Boffomundo Interview". YouTube. Retrieved 3 March 2019. Event occurs at 5:15–7:01.
  8. ^ Smith, Sid. "University of Texas Arlington". DGM Live. Discipline Global Mobile. Retrieved 24 August 2019.
  9. ^ "John Wetton, Official John Wetton Website Guestbook". Bakerloo2.forumchitchat.com. Retrieved 19 May 2018.
  10. ^ Fripp, Robert (2013). "Robert Fripp Diaries". The Road To Red. p. 32.
  11. ^ "Red – The Long View". DGM Live. 3 November 2016. Retrieved 12 February 2020.
  12. ^ Romano, Will (2010). Mountains Come Out of the Sky: The Illustrated History of Prog Rock. Backbeat Books. ISBN 978-0879309916. "At the time we were recording [Red], Robert Fripp said he wanted to take a backseat, because he wasn't sure where this [band] was going", Wetton said.
  13. ^ Fripp, Robert (8 July 1974). "Idea my years sabbatical". DGM Live. Discipline Global Mobile. Retrieved 24 August 2019.
  14. ^ Smith, Sid (2013). "Nowhere to go but everywhere...". The Road To Red. p. 14.
  15. ^ a b Eder, B. (2011). "Red – King Crimson | AllMusic". allmusic.com. Retrieved 25 July 2011.
  16. ^ a b 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.
  17. ^ a b Milas, Alexander (November 2009). "King Crimson – Reissues". Classic Rock. No. 138. p. 95.
  18. ^ Barnes, Mike (November 2009). "Royal Flush". Mojo. London: Bauer Media Group (192): 106. ISSN 1351-0193.
  19. ^ Sodomsky, Sam (10 September 2017). "King Crimson: Red". Pitchfork. Retrieved 10 September 2017.
  20. ^ "Rocklist.net...Q Magazine Lists". Rocklistmusic.co.uk. Retrieved 19 May 2018.
  21. ^ "Interview with Robert Fripp in Rock and Folk – ETWiki". Elephant-talk.com. Retrieved 19 May 2018.
  22. ^ "Interview with Bill Bruford in Percussioni (in Italian) – ETWiki". Elephant-talk.com. Retrieved 19 May 2018.
  23. ^ Rolling Stone – The 100 Greatest Guitar Songs of All Time. Retrieved 2011-01-24. "‘I'm not a blues guitarist’, Robert Fripp said in 1995, 'but I think I've met the spirit of the blues several times.' This is one of them: blunt-instrument funk in which Fripp, leading a power-trio Crimson, jars the mathematical cadence of his riffing with a wrecking-ball swing and rude pig-squeal harmonics."
  24. ^ Pitchfork – Top 100 Albums of the 1970s. Retrieved 2016-03-18.
  25. ^ https://www.discogs.com/Glueleg-Heroic-Doses/release/1810967
  26. ^ "King Crimson Chart History (Billboard 200)". Billboard. Retrieved 14 November 2017.

BibliographyEdit

Further readingEdit

External linksEdit