I seem to listen rather intensely to things King Crimson recorded between 1973 and 1974, to the near exclusion of much else the band has done. Though they released a few other albums in this two year period ('Larks Tongues in Aspic' and 'Starless and Bible Black') - to my mind, none successfully captured the phenomenal precise jazzlike looseness of Bill Bruford's drumming and raw power of Robert Fripp's weird guitar chord progressions as did 'Red'. So many other bands of the same era failed miserably trying to work art into a rock context, and ended up with something which was overwrought, bloated, pretentious, and downright fruity.
Some would argue that King Crimson fails on similar grounds - but for me, during that brief period in the early 70s, it all seems to work beautifully - perhaps it's the strong presence of Fripp's guitar as opposed to the flaccid keyboard work that dooms about 90% of the other bands. To get a real sense of what 73/74 era Crimson was capable of, I highly recommend any of the 6 CDs of live material the band has released from those two years - they took a lot of chances in concert, in particular improvising lengthy instrumental pieces (which I believe they began to do again starting in the late 90s). On occasion, this results in pure dreck, but often they come up with something brilliant. Anyone who enjoys any of the current "Chicago sound" guitar noodling bands like Don Caballero or June of 44 should check out King Crimson to see how it's really done.
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