Adrian Belew: guitar, lead vocal Robert Fripp: guitar & devices
Tony Levin: stick, bass, support vocal Bill Bruford: Acoustic & electronic percussion
When Robert Fripp declared in 1974 that King Crimson had ‘ceased to exist’ nobody could have foreseen that the band would return in 1981 with a radically different line-up & sound, elements of which had, perhaps, more in common with the then current post-punk new wave than the band’s notional progressive rock past.
Returning initially under the name Discipline for low-key gigs & then as King Crimson proper with an album called ‘Discipline’ & as different from the 1970s King Crimson, as the 1970s line-ups had been from the 1960s band, the new quartet of Robert Fripp, Bill Bruford, Adrian Belew (Zappa, Bowie, Talking Heads) and Tony Levin (Peter Gabriel/Paul Simon), rapidly established itself as a force on the live circuit. The longer songs of the 1960s & early 1970s & the extended improvisations of the live performances from the earlier touring bands were replaced with a series of short taut songs & instrumentals imbued with a minimalist aesthetic that featured complex interwoven guitar lines from Fripp & Belew, (coined ‘rock gamelan’), Adrian’s distinctive vocals & sharply apt lyrics, Bruford’s new armoury of electronic percussion & Levin’s fluid bass & Chapman Stick lines.
With ‘Discipline’ charting in a number of countries including the UK & USA, the clamour for the band’s tours was further enhanced, often to a greater extent than could actually be fulfilled – not for the first or last time with a King Crimson line-up – due to the other time demands made on the individual musicians. Despite such pressures a further album ‘Beat’ appeared & charted in 1982 & when ‘Three of a Perfect Pair’ hit the UK Top 30 upon release in 1984, it was clear that King Crimson had managed not just to retain a large percentage of its original fanbase but had successfully reached a completely fresh audience also. However, three albums and a number of tours in as many years, for a quartet all of whom had substantial non-KC musical commitments, strained the line-up beyond its natural limit & King Crimson was again retired from active service, not to return until the mid-1990s.
On (and off) The Road presents a complete overview of this enduringly popular line-up. All three studio albums are presented in remixed stereo editions on CD (Discipline in its 2011 mix), as are the final concerts from each year of touring. Two further CDs present newly edited & extended takes from the ‘Champaign-Urbana’ sessions for the band’s proposed third album & a ‘making of’ CD which provides a fascinating audio insight into the studio recordings. New Stereo, 5.1 Surround, original stereo editions & videos appear on the DVD-A discs. The Blu-Ray discs bring full 24/96 stereo & 5.1 Surround sound plus extended video/concert footage including the Frejus concert, the Alabamahalle concert (unseen since its 1982 broadcast) an array of previously unreleased additional concert footage from the band’s 1984 Japanese concerts, along with audio only options for some of the footage. Two bonus CDs present the band’s first gig as Discipline, from an audio restored bootleg at Moles Club Bath & the unreleased live album that was prepared from the Frejus tapes, with the additional recordings from that concert also included, complete the audio & visual features.
With a wealth of previously unheard audio and/or upgraded audio – from the band’s first to final performances, newly issued stereo & 5.1 editions of two of the band’s studio albums – Beat & TOAPP, the classic Discipline album in stereo & 5.1, audio and video recordings of some of the best live shows the line-up played plus substantial new concert footage, all presented to the high standards that have been a staple of King Crimson boxed sets of recent years, this is an essential edition for the many fans of this era of King Crimson.