Revisiting my extensive music collection, one artist at a time


For many years after its 1970’s heyday progressive rock, or “prog,” was considered a four-letter word among music critics and snobs. Fortunately for us prog-heads we survived the “lean years” in the 80s & ’90s (which actually featured dozens of great bands that flew under the radar) and smiled as prog became acceptable and (almost) mainstream during the new millennium. While many ’60s artists and albums have been cited as the birth of progressive rock, they merely laid the foundation for King Crimson, whose 1969 debut masterpiece In The Court Of The Crimson King is essentially prog ground zero.

For more information on this series, please read the opening paragraph of the first post, which featured the debut album from Led Zeppelin.



By now it’s not a revelation to report that I’m a huge fan of progressive rock, and no discussion of that subgenre can start without mentioning King Crimson and their massively influential debut album. Guitarist Robert Fripp, the only constant in the ever-changing KC lineups over nearly half a century, was joined by future ELP vocalist/bassist Greg Lake, future Foreigner keyboard/woodwind player Ian McDonald, drummer Michael Giles and lyricist Pete Sinfield for a collection of five mind-blowing tracks that range from 6 to 12 minutes long. McDonald’s organ and Mellotron give these songs an orchestral grandeur, while Fripp’s groundbreaking guitar playing is still mind-blowing. I can only imagine how out-of-this world it all sounded in 1969. The album is bookended by the aggressive “21st Century Schizoid Man” and the quiet-loud dynamics of “The Court Of The Crimson King.” The jazzier “I Talk To The Wind” and “Moonchild” allow the album to breathe while taking listeners on a journey, while the gorgeous “Epitaph” has long been my favorite song here. Lake would later incorporate a portion of it during ELP’s live performances of “Tarkus.” Sporting one of the ugliest or most iconic album covers of all time (depending on your taste), In The Court Of The Crimson King is a record that grows in stature as it ages.


Official versions of King Crimson songs are hard to find online, as Mr. Fripp is rightfully protective of his recordings, so for now I can share these YouTube clips which feature edited “single” versions of three favorites from this album. Eventually they will likely be removed and I’ll replace them with the best options available at that time.

There have been many lineups of King Crimson over the last five decades, each with its own unique sound, and every era has its proponents. For all of you Crimson fans out there, do you have a favorite album? Lineup? Era? On any given day I could cite their debut or any album from the early-’70s Wetton/Bruford years, the early-’80s Belew/Levin/Bruford years or the mid-’90s double-trio lineup as my favorite, but In The Court Of The Crimson King is probably the one I return to most often. It still sounds vital & powerful 50 years after it was created, and that will likely be the case in another 50 years.

14 comments on “Satur-debut – KING CRIMSON “IN THE COURT OF THE CRIMSON KING”

  1. Aphoristical
    March 23, 2019

    I like the Bruford and Wetton era best, and Red is my favourite album.


  2. 80smetalman
    March 23, 2019

    Some good old prog rock. Some would consider this a contrast because I was just listening to some Venom before this but hey, it’s all good music to me.


  3. Alyson
    March 23, 2019

    As you would probably expect, I can made no comment on this album whatsoever, but I do know another blogger who was of your persuasion back in the day – Rick Ouellette. He has a comic book dedicated to Prog Rock.


    Looking forward to the ’70s!!


    • I figured this “masculine” prog rock record would not be your cup of tea. The ’70s will be here soon, but I think there’s at least one more album from ’69 that might be something you also enjoy. Stay tuned in the next couple of weeks, and possibly even next Saturday. Thanks for the link to Rick’s prog comic book page. Will check that out soon.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. stephen1001
    March 23, 2019

    And speaking of great out of the gate, surely the 21st Century opening riff is one of the all-time finest debut-opening riffs!


    • Good point, Geoff. I never thought of honing in on the “great out of the gate” concept with opening riffs from those albums. This would certainly be at or near the top.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. christiansmusicmusings
    March 26, 2019

    Wow, this post is truly powerful – every time I try scrolling through the comments, my WordPress app literally crashes!😆

    The musicianship on this record is just through the roof. I will say progressive rock tends to be more of an acquired taste for me, and I generally listen to it much less often than to classic rock, blues and soul.

    Yes, Genesis and I guess Pink Floyd probably are the prog rock bands I know best. By comparison, I’ve listened much less to King Crimson – in part because as you noted hardly any of their original material like this album is available in Apple Music/iTunes and other streaming/digital platforms.

    I totally get being protective about your music. But if you make it so hard for folks to find your material, this approach can also work against you, so it’s clearly a double-edged sword, especially in the age of streaming!


    • Haha…sorry WordPress was acting like a 21st century schizoid app when you tried reading this post.

      I find it strange when I talk about prog rock these days, because when I got into all of those bands as a teenager they were just “rock” bands. I don’t remember any of my friends or fellow musicians using the word “progressive” when discussing them, but eventually it became a catch-all for so many artists. Perhaps when it was shortened to “prog” (15-20 years ago?) people started thinking of it as a genre, but I don’t really see it that way.

      It is strange that Fripp won’t allow most of their music on streaming services, although I believe he’s starting to soften his stance on this matter. I’m sure he’s made a decent amount of money in his career but he’s not at superstar level, so the digital music world could really help him out…and it would also expose his music to so many people who will never otherwise hear it.

      Liked by 1 person

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