Today is the 46th anniversary of the release of King Crimson’s first album, “In The Court of the Crimson King”.
This is an album that’s been a cornerstone of the progressive rock canon ever since its release in 1969. The intense and jagged “21st Century Schizoid Man” set the template for prog-metal before metal itself had emerged as a genre, since it would be another year before Black Sabbath released their eponymous début. The stately Mellotron-drenched magnificence of “Epitaph” and the title track showcased the evocative poetry of Pete Sinfield’s lyrics, which still divide opinion two generations later. It was an tremendous and unexpected privilege to hear all three performed live a month ago. And that instantly-recognisable cover artwork remains one of rock’s iconic images.
I only heard it a decade after its release when it was already an established classic, so it’s difficult to imagine how something so revolutionary must have sounded to first-time listeners at the end of the 1960s. That period must have been an exciting time to have been a rock fan, with music evolving at an unprecedented rate. King Crimson themselves, having defined a genre out of nowhere, went on to leave it behind just as rapidly as they explored stranger and more experemental directions. Later King Crimsons had an influence on post-punk; when PiL recently played live you could hear a lot of Robert Fripp in Lu Edmond’s guitar work.