King Crimson Discipline

In 1981, over-achieving guitarist extraordinaire Robert Fripp summoned three other musical monsters to join him in his tirade into a musical era dawning in the electronic age: Yes's Bill Bruford on percussion, Tony Levin on bass and Chapman stick, and Frank Zappa/Talking Heads alumnus Adrian Belew on vocals and guitar. Together, this configuration would go at musical spelunking under the trustworthy name that guarantees musicianship at its finest: King Crimson. Unlike where Crimson previously left off in 1974 as a ruffled progressive epic workhorse, the new Crim would create a smoother and song-oriented type of structure. They would also be the first consistent roster (for a total of three albums) that Fripp would guide. Aside from Discipline, which arguably possesses the finest moments of the trilogy and of the band's entire catalogue up to that point, the band seemed to take less risks and stay linear for the most part. Discipline features the band's only big radio hit, "Elephant Talk"; the semi-spoken word/instrumental "Thela Hun Ginjeet," a windmill interpretation of the fast paced insanity and crime of New York City; "Matte Kudasai," a soothingly dreamy fantasy blues; and "Indiscipline," a return to the punishing grooves that Crimson perfected in the past. Despite the brightness inherent in the trilogy's overall mood, Belew's signature sombre and eerie minor/sharp note vocal style would hold earlier fans from slipping away. Although sounding very '80s, the latter two albums were quite separate from what normally ruled the airwaves at the time. One reversion to interlocking mathematical guitar melodia ensues on the occasion, but the lightly anarchistic nature of their pop attempts was simply due to the fact that nothing sounded formulaic. Levin and Bruford never fully exercised the potential of their talent like they did on Discipline, but their moments do come in the delectably dark and loose instrumentals such as "Larks' Tongues In Aspic Part III" and "Requiem," which almost act like complimentary Bizarro world versions of song that the quartet were otherwise writing. Virgin's meticulous reissues of these albums are nothing short of spectacular. Hi-definition audio and gorgeous vinyl-like packaging with supplementary photographs and press clippings give insight to Fripp's methodology. And the inclusion of a few bonus tracks, remixes and a humorous barbershop quartet piece, make the upgrade worthwhile. (Virgin)