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King Crimson Ladies Of The Road Review

Live. Released 2002.  

BBC Review

When it comes to unstinting devotion to exploring and making available archive...

Chris Jones 2002

When it comes to unstinting devotion to exploring and making available archive material for fan(atics) there can be few labels more committed than Discipline Global Mobile. Only the Grateful Dead with their legendary 'Dick's Picks' series have surpassed Robert Fripp's desire to beat bootleggers at their own game. He's often stated his aim to provide what he sees as a considerable demand for rarities, but has tended to aim product purely at completists.

Not any more. After over 20 soundboard and audience recordings covering all incarnations of the worlds brainiest band have appeared via the online collectors club, this compilation of sorts arrives on high street shelves. Complimenting the recent reissue of the 1971 incarnation's Earthbound (in itself a pseudo bootleg) this wholly new approach will net both casual Crimheads and bona fide nutters alike. For, while one disc consists of highlights from their 71-72 tour - arranged as a virtual gig - the second disc is a different beast.

And beast - a word that Fripp himself is prone to use -is the only way to describe this skull-crushing edit of solos from their ultimate manifesto - ''21st Century Schizoid Man'' - entitled ''Schizoid Men (1-11)''. It should be called ''Blowing In C'' for its relentless jazz-tinged attack in one key. Simply put, it's over 50 minutes of almost infinite variety that, due to its sudden termination gives the illusion of continuing to this day.

Ian Wallace, in his charming sleeve notes pays homage to original Crimson drummer Mike Giles (''for whom I have nothing but admiration...precise as the Black Watch''), but his freedom around the kit is entirely apt for this looser outfit. This really is as close as they ever got to being funky. The excitement is palpable. Band members yell encouragement as Fripp sets off on a search for God knows what somewhere up at the 17th fret. Even Boz Burrell - taught bass by the guitarist - acquits himself most dextrously.

So, they've done it again. If you only love this one seminal track, you need this album. It's a grainy tapestry of wonders, never to be repeated.

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