Fades Into Grey (Siréne-188)
Ford Auditorium, Detroit, MI – April 26th, 1974
Disc 1: No Pussyfooting, The Great Deceiver, Lament, Exiles, Fracture, improvisation 1
Disc 2: The Night Watch, Easy Money, Starless, improvisation 2, The Talking Drum, Larks’ Tongues In Aspic Part II, 21st Century Schizoid Man
The tape for King Crimson’s April 26th, 1974 concert in Detroit has been released twice before on silver compact disc. It first appears on Detroit Ford Auditorium (RCD 2034) on the Red Circle label and, more recently, on The Golden Light Clip (HL358) on Highland in 1999. The tape is a good example of a fair mono audience recording.
It is too good to be avoid, yet too poor to be essential. The taper is situated quite a distance from the stage and the music sounds very thin with a very narrow spectrum of frequencies. Hiss is another obstacle to the enjoyment of the show.
There are cuts between all of the songs on the older release but this past summer a more complete version of the same tape source surfaced online for download. Blue Cafe released it first on Starless In Detroit in August, and Siréne follow with their version on Fade Into Grey.
These newer editions are a little more clear and much more complete. Siréne claim to have corrected the tape speed to be more accurate in pitch although, comparing it to the Highland release, there isn’t a big difference.
This concert occurs close to the beginning of the first of two consecutive tours of North America, which began in Owings Mills, Maryland on April 11th, 1974. There are at least twenty shows available officially and unofficially released to listen to. Many consider this era to be King Crimson’s creative peak but this concert doesn’t really measure up to that standard. It is in general a rare lackluster performance and the explorations, which are the heart of any good Crimson show, are short and never seem to jell.
The chaos of “The Great Deceiver” sounds like mush, as do most of the louder passages in the music. The complexities of “Fracture” and “Starless” sound lost in the echo from the venue. On the Highland release the first improvisation after “Lament” is called “The Glimpse Of A Child” and the second after “Fracture” is called “Explain Once More”, but Siréne doesn’t bother to name them.
A loud buzzing from the stage begins after “Easy Money” and continues through “Starless” to the end of the show making it even more difficult to hear and also seems to distract the band. What delivers the show from complete mediocrity is the delivery of the standard songs which fare much better.
“Lament”, which is in essence a weak song, has some power in this performance and “The Night Watch” is a highlight.
Since there are so many recordings from this tour Fades Into Grey is only for the diehard King Crimson collector. With Robert Fripp trolling through the archives on a regular basis perhaps someday a soundboard of the show will surface. It is hard to determine if my opinion of the concert is due to the mediocre sound quality and perhaps a better recording will change that. Siréne put some effort into the tape to make it more listenable.
They use a Starless And Bible Black motif on the artwork to great effect. It is limited to three hundred copies was released by Siréne along with Executive Action and Academy Of Music. All of these are part of a flurry of Crimson activity by the label producing the best available versions of these shows on the market.