VARIOUS ARTISTS – Reimagining The Court Of The Crimson King

Cleopatra 2024

Stellar descent on a territory of progressive rock’s palais-royal to refresh its undimming color and propel it beyond the pale.

Reimagining The Court Of The Crimson King

There was a universal outcry when yours truly first spread the news of this project in which an all-star cast recut underground music’s most impressive debut record – despite the plethora of its numbers’ covers delivered to the listeners through the years – yet what may seem strange only proves how immutable an album "In The Court Of The Crimson King" has always been. The fact that various artists with their individual approaches couldn’t change its structure, even if they tried to, is a testament to the conceptual entirety Robert Fripp, Ian McDonald and Greg Lake – the classic melodies’ principal writers – created as well to the audacity of producer Jürgen Engler’s experimental vision, the presence of two official Crimsonites anchoring “Reimagining” to the mothership’s history. But then, the performances on offer only enrich the five perennials by displaying fresh angles to the material relentlessly progressing into the future and demonstrate the platter’s ever-united front.

Perhaps, there’s no better example of this than “21st Century Schizoid Man” where deranged agenda is brought forth by Ian Paice’s frenetic cannonade, welding PURPLE assault to CRIMSON edge, and Todd Rundgren’s blurring of the anthem’s rhythmic pattern before vocal lines are passed to Arthur Brown. The God Of Hellfire’s left as a sole prophet of doom for the track’s alternative version that – appended together with its purely instrumental run-through to the record’s CD variant – features, alongside Mel Collins’ elegantly vigorous reeds, Brian Auger‘s jazz-baroque organ rave in place of Chris Poland’s cosmic six-string solo. However, Marty Friedman, his replacement in MEGADETH, will get an equally prominent fusion spot in “Moonchild” in which Joe Lynn Turner-voiced lyrics serve as a mere precursor to the adventurous interplay between Jah Wobble’s roaming rumble, Chester Thompson’s constantly shifting groove and the crystalline clink of Engler’s keyboards.

It appears as a contrast to the fairly familiar, though somewhat chamber, reading of “I Talk To The Wind” which bassist Django Jakszyk and father Jakko keep in transparent folksy mood-mode rendered even more ethereal thanks to Mel’s flutes. Just as spectral emerges “Epitaph” that’s tethered with Alan Davey’s bass and Mellotron and elevated by Paul Rudolph’s axes and Nik Turner’s saxes which bear the weight of Danny Faulkner’s grave singing. Still, James LaBrie doesn’t inject the shortened take on the album’s titular tapestry with as much original energy as Carmine Appice and Steve Hillage do once the veterans land on the epic’s space plateau for a regal picnic – but this can’t diminish the feast’s allure.

Yes, reimagining the masterpiece is an unimaginable feat, yet those who dare dream of such are able to inherit its light.


April 30, 2024

Category(s): Reviews
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