Live at the Marquee, August 10, 1971 (CLUB 46)
Marquee Club, London, England – August 10th, 1971
Disc 1 (43:43): Pictures Of A City, Formentera Lady, The Sailors Tale, Cirkus, The Letters, Cadence And Cascade
Disc 2 (48:47): Improv, Ladies Of The Road, RF Announcement, 21st Century Schizoid Man
Live at the Marquee, August 10, 1971 (CLUB 46) is perhaps the most surprising and fortuitous finds in recent King Crimson memory for fans of the Islands line up. After their initial spate of touring in the spring of 1971, Robert Fripp and the band slowed down a bit to continue to write and refine their next studio album.
In the second week of August they scheduled two shows for the Marquee, site of their groundbreaking show two years before. Demand for tickets was such that a third night was added and canceled the Wednesday disco night.
Club 46 documents the second of three nights with a pristine soundboard recording. With Vivian Stanshall opening the show (several months before he would reunite with the other Bonzo Dog Doo-Dah Band members for their final album), King Crimson presented a refined performance before the packed house.
Arguably the greatest find in Mister Stormy’s trawl through the Crimson archives: uncovering a previously unheard set on the second night at the band’s stint at The Marquee.
The set begins with “Pictures Of A City.” Normally loud and intense, they play a strangely subdued and delicate version of the piece. In fact, that is the standard for the entire concert. Perhaps it was because of the small size of the venue, but they spend much of the first forty-five minutes playing songs from the as-yet-recorded fourth album.
“Formentera Lady” is played very close to the studio version. During the middle jazz section they sing in Ligeti inspired three part harmony. Although that arrangement would grace the studio recording, it would be dropped from live performance.
The piece flows seamlessly into “The Sailor’s Tale” just as it does on Islands. They follow with “Cirkus” from Lizard before completing the first side of the new LP with “The Letters.” The poisonous ballad has a unique Mellotron introduction. The first disc ends with a four and a half minute version of “Cadence And Cascade.”
Afterwards is another new piece with Fripp says should be on the new album Islands when it comes out in October. He says it’s untitled and is a reaction to various cities like Chicago, Detroit and New York.
The “improv” lasts close to thirty minutes. A recording from one of the other Marquee shows appears on A Weird Person’s Guide to… King Crimson (DE Invasion Unlimited IU 9412-1) released in 1994 and titled “No. 1 Mr. Wonderful.”
The 40th Anniversary remaster of Islands in 2010 has the studio recording, clocking in just under four minutes and titled “A Peacemaking Stint Unrolls.”
Whatever the name, it’s interesting because it contains riffs and ideas that would not be included on the new album but would surface later at “Larks’ Tongues in Aspic Part I” on the LP Larks’ Tongues in Aspic and also “Lament” from the 1974 follow-up Starless and Bible Black.
After the familiar melodies in the opening verses, it continues into a subdued John Coltrane inspired Mel Collins saxophone solo. There is a brief pause in the middle and, after Boz shouts “TRIANGLE!!… COWBELL!!!” Ian Wallace goes into a long drum solo complete with shouts, tambourines, party whistles and treating the drums through the VCS 3. The middle section ends with Fripp’s abrasive notes before leading into the closing melody. It is a recognizable Crimso journey transported into a new tune which this line up didn’t utilize. It’s interesting to see how they eliminated the entire middle section for the studio recording and how there are no lyrics.
The final new song is a quiet version of “Ladies Of The Road.” After Fripp announces the band, he introduces the final song of the night “21st Century Schizoid Man.” The only song from the first album to survive, Boz’s vocals are much sharper and earnest compared to Greg Lake’s husky and smoky vocals.
The tape ends with Fripp rattling on and on about how bands looks and how prog drummers are different from rock drummers. When someone asks him to clairfy, he berates them and calls them a “vulgar oaf.”
It’s a strange ending for an important night for King Crimson. Because they were trying to match their high standard and reputation from two years earlier as one of the more important new British bands, they do play it somewhat safe but display their talent nonetheless. Live at the Marquee, August 10, 1971 is one of the best releases on KCCC and is worth having.