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A point often brought up within progressive rock circles is to whom one could really attribute progressive rock's first real album. Many critics mention King Crimson's first album, In The Court Of The Crimson King, a masterpiece in rock music and on of music history's all time classic albums.
Though King Crimson have continued in one format or another till this various day, the classic lineup on this album was over before the world had woken up to their music. Two members of the quartet, namely Michael Giles and Ian McDonald felt they had to break away from the KC fold mainly due to musical differences with band leader Robert Fripp as well as due to constraints of touring. In fact the two left the band in December of 1969, during the US tour to promote their debut album (The last official date played by the band was December 16th 1969). Because of this Fripp had to stop the tour and cancel all dates booked for January/February 1970.
As can be imagined feelings between Fripp, McDonald and Giles were not too rosy during this period. According to McDonald, their departure from the band was due to the fact that King Crimson's music "is not happy music...And I want to make music that says good things instead of evil things". On the other hand Robert Fripp replied that their departure was due to them "falling In love" during the KC tour. What is definite is that Fripp decided to see out the first KC phase by releasing in quick succession a further two albums while McDonald and Giles would regroup together a few months later. Michael's brother, Pete (Of Giles, Giles & Fripp fame) was also roped in together with various guest musicians such as Steve Winwood. One can assume that Greg Lake was not involved in the band as he was still to a certain extent a member of King Crimson although he had already expressed his desire to leave.
The album is in itself an extremely upbeat album with many sharply contrasting events vis-a-vis In the Court Of The Crimson King occurring. One of the more striking points is the lack of use of the mellotron, an instrument that was popularised by McDonald on In The Court... , and an instrument that would be used to great effect by various other progressive rock bands. Furthermore, McDonald also plays guitar to great effect, something which he could not possibly do alongside Fripp!
When one discusses the album one should also reflect on a number of points, namely that both McDonald and Giles were creatively involved in KC's debut album, McDonald himself being composer of classic tracks such as I Talk To The Wind. However, one must definitely ask the question on what King Crimson's second album would have sounded like should McDonald and Giles remained within the line-up. A very good idea of that can be obtained from the McDonald and Giles album. Robert Fripp himself has stated that the M&G album was almost half of what the new KC album was to be and that the band had been rehearsing the material since the fall of 1969. Some material was composed even further back in time, For example, the Michael Giles' composition, Tomorrow's People -- The Children of Today dates back to the days of Giles, Giles and Fripp in 1967.
01 - Suite in C 11:15
02 - Flight of the Ibis 3:11
03 - Is She Waiting? 2:36
04 - Tomorrow's People - The Children of Today 7:03
05 - The Inventor's Dream 3:53
06 - The Workshop 2:52
07 - Wishbone Ascension 1:30
08 - Birdman Flies! 6:18
09 - Wings in the Sunset 0:41
10 - Birdman - The Relection 6:00
Ian McDonald – guitar, piano, organ, saxes, flute, clarinet, zither, vocals and sundries
Michael Giles – drums, percussion (including milk bottle, handsaw, lip whistle and nutbox), vocals
Peter Giles – bass guitar
Steve Winwood – organ, and piano solo on "Turnham Green"
Michael Blakesley – trombone on "Tomorrow's People"
Arranged and produced by Ian McDonald and Michael Giles
Engineered by Brian Humphries
Assistant engineer: Richard Digby Smith
Strings and brass on "Birdman" and "Suite in C" arranged and conducted by Mike Gray.
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