Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Color My World: The Court of the Crimson King

King Crimson: The Court of the Crimson King


In the early seventies, AM radio was the home of the hits. There were forty songs, with ten emphasized, and you would hear them over and over in the course of the day. To escape this, my brothers and I listened to FM radio. This was where new music lived. And in the early seventies, new music meant art-rock. Nowadays, the label progressive rock is more often used, but art-rock was what we called it then.

In art-rock, the extended jams of sixties music had given way to longer compositions. Songs would shift rhythms mid-song, and unusual time signatures were often used. The arrangements emphasized a big sound. The worst results of this have aged poorly, and sound pompous and overblown to a modern listener. But the best of art-rock still sounds amazing today. And King Crimson were right at the top, along with Yes, Peter Gabriel era Genesis, and only a few others.

The Court of the Crimson King tells of a tournament and pageant at a medieval castle. The imagery is rich and multicolored, fittingly for our theme. The music matches the grandeur of the described events. There is no story, just a rich parade of images and a powerful evocation of mood.

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