The influence of “In the Court of the Crimson King” is impossible to ignore.
Given its reputation, I expected something that would still blow my mind four decades later. It is indeed a worthy listen, but in retrospect, it’s more appreciable for its impact on prog rock and its legacy.
At times, Crimson King sounds more like the early ’70s imitators that followed it. Its dystopian lyrical themes often clash with the meekness of the music.
It’s a more mellow record than I had anticipated, with flourishes of flute and generous servings of mellotron. The last two movements of “Moonchild” are a free jazz improvisation on drums and xylophone.
However, the opener, “21st Century Schizoid Man,” is a five-star track, riding a triumphant phrase that dissolves into sax-fueled insanity. “The Court of the Crimson King” is a sweeping, dramatic closer to the record.
What can still be heard is the recording’s integrity and vision.
Maybe Crimson King doesn’t sound groundbreaking or phenomenal in 2013, but one has to respect its aspiration, especially for its era.
Our Music Year is Daily Republic popular culture writer Nick DeCicco’s yearlong online review in 2012 of albums he had previously not listened to. The reviews will appear in print on their corresponding days during 2013. Reach him at 427-6966 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/ndeciccodr.