Live In Central Park (Club10)
Central Park, New York, NY – July 1st, 1974
(74:04): Walk On…No Pussyfooting, 21st Century Schizoid Man, Lament, Exiles, Improv Cerebus, Easy Money, Fracture, Starless, The Talking Drum, Larks’ Tongues In Aspic Part II
After years of touring and releasing two important progressive rock albums, Larks’ Tongues In Aspic and Starless And Bible Black, King Crimson finished live performance with a gig in New York’s Central Park on July 1st, 1974. It was their second show in New York that year after the May 1st show at the Felt Forum, and second show in as many years in Central Park after the June 25th 1973 appearance, one of the very few that was filmed of this line up.
Live In Central Park is an excellent stereo audience recording of the entire set. The taper was situated very close to the stage, capturing the dynamics and weight of the performance. It was first booted in the seventies on vinyl.
On compact disc, Exiles (Triangle PYCD 055) in 1990 included “Fracture” along with other material. The first title with the complete show was Last Live Show (4 701-2 2114) issued in 1991. Highland released an upgrade six years later on Last Stand Starless (Highland HL036#KC3).
The official release is an improvement over the Highland release. The producers muted the audience cheering between numbers, so it goes from a full and dynamic recording during the music to sounding curiously muted in audience response.
It’s not much of an issue, however, because the band pause between only a few of the numbers. One of the most intense King Crimson performances on tape, even the band members were unanimous in their praise of the performance. John Wetton said “there was enough testosterone onstage that night to drive an F-14,” and Fripp thought it was as magical as the best 1969 performances, claiming “the bottom of my spine registered ‘out of this world’.”
The tape starts out with the otherworldly strains of “Walk On…No Pussyfooting” and gentle applause from the audience. The serenity is cut with the slashing opening notes to “21st Century Schizoid Man.” Normally played as an encore, they chose their most “heavy metal” of numbers to begin. Fripp takes complete control of the middle, spitting out hostile riffs over Wetton’s jet engine bass.
“Lament” and “Exiles” follow in quick succession before the only Crimso voyage of the set in “Cerebus.” Lasting eight minutes, it starts off with a distorted riff punctuated by Fripp’s gentle strumming and Cross’ oriental piano. It gains momentum when Wetton comes in with a funky bass melody.
The highlight of the set comes with the twelve minute “Starless.” Fripp introduces the song, calling it a “a short blast into the cosmos” calling it “Starless And Bible Black.” The theatrics of the stage show corresponded perfectly with the music as Fripp recalled afterwards when he said that: “As the sun went down and we moved into the ominous bass riff emerging from the ‘Starless’ vocal, red stage lights faded up from behind the band. For me, a stunning theatrical moment highlighting the tension withing the piece and the group: a moment of resonance.”
It segues into “The Talking Drum” and “Larks’ Tongues In Aspic Part II” before the band walk offstage. Although this show represented an artistic success which many hoped would translate into more mainstream recognition, Fripp unilaterally broke up the band later that summer while they were recording Red.
The liner notes contain Fripp’s diary from the last week of the tour and his reflections of the event. Live In Central Park is a potent, compact set of one of King Crimson’s greatest tours and is worth having.If you liked this review, buy me a cup of joe. (Suggested: $3 a shot or $7.5 for a double)