Academy Of Music (Siréne – 192)
Academy Of Music, New York, NY – November 24th, 1971
Intro., Cirkus, Fripp speaks, Pictures Of A City, Formentera Lady, 21st Century Schizoid Man, Devil’s Triangle
Siréne produced Academy Of Music in the memory of Raymond “Boz” Burrell, who passed away September 21st in his home in Spain from natural causes. His big break came when he was hired by Robert Fripp to be the singer for King Crimson replacing Gordon Haskell. After a bass player couldn’t be found Fripp taught Burrell how to play the instrument and the rest, as they say, is history. This release also serves as a companion piece for their Yes title Handle With Care released last month. Over two nights, Wednesday November 24th and Thursday November 25th, the triple bill of Yes, King Crimson and Procol Harum played in the 3,000-seat venue.
No tape has yet surfaced for the second show on Thanksgiving, but fortunately the first has. Since it comes from the same taper, it is as good as the Yes tape. In 1991 this tape was released on Cirkus (SC103) in similar quality. Since King Crimson were sharing the bill their set, just like with Yes, was restricted to an hour. Usual staples of the set list, “Ladies Of The Road”, “Cadence & Cascade”, “The Letters”, and “Groon” were dropped and “Formentara Lady” is used as the vehicle for improvisational (or jamming) explorations.
Minor tape fluctuations are present during the long improvisation but contains no cuts and all of the music and stage announcements are present. It begins with Boz saying, “Good evening from King Crimson. This is a song from the Lizard album…about innocence” before delivering a creepy version of “Cirkus”. During a long delay afterwards Fripp goes into a long discussion about mellotrons breaking down and the roadies on stage testing them. After some tuning Fripp introduces “Pictures Of A City” as the encore. “Formentera Lady” reaches more than twenty minutes and includes the “Groon” motifs followed by Ian Wallace’s drum solo which sounds very much like Carl Palmer’s with the synthesized percussion.
They get into “A Sailor’s Tale” and conclude with Mel Collins dominating the general silliness. “21st Century Schizoid Man” from the first album is played probably since it is familiar with the audience. Boz sings the lyrics through a vocal harmonizer producing a rather unsettling effect. Fripp liked to have singers who sang closer to baritone (Lake, Wetton), but Boz stood out by singing in a high tenor and the effect on his vocals were most likely to compensate for that. “Devil’s Triangle” is the finale and is their meditation upon Holst’s “Mars” from The Planets Suite.
The synthesized bombs and fire sirens going off in the venue delight the crowd immensely. Of the eighteen dates they played on their first U.S. tour, only four tapes, including this one, exist. The November 13th show in Detroit was released by the KCCC on Live In Detroit, MI (DGM CLUB 18), the November 11th Toronto date was released on Marsbound (KC-005) and the December 9th Grand Rapids show (where they play “Silent Night”) has never been released. Thankfully this tape is of great quality and the audience is quiet, listening intently to all of the new material.
This is impressive especially since Islands was not released until December 3rd, about a week after this show. Live At The Academy is also Siréne’s first issue from this Crimson line up since their first title Tale Of Two Treaties three years ago. All of the different Crimson line-ups have their strengths and weaknesses. It seems this one does not gather the praise as the following one, but there is some impressive musicianship captured here and is well worth seeking out. This title is limited to three hundred copies and is printed with many rare live photographs of the band in action and is definitely worth having.If you liked this review, buy me a cup of joe. (Suggested: $3 a shot or $7.5 for a double)