King Crimson – Live In Kassel April 1, 1974 (Club36)

 Live In Kassel April 1, 1974 (Club 36)

Stadthalle, Kassel, Germany – April 1st, 1974

(57:46):  The Great Deceiver, improvisation 1, Dr. Diamond, improvisation 2, Exiles, The Night Watch, Lament, Starless, improvisation 3, Easy Money, Fracture (incomplete)

Live in Kassel is the latest release on the King Crimson Collector’s Club series.  This is the penultimate show of their European tour that began on March 19th in Udine, Italy and ended on April 2nd in Gottingen.  This hour long tape is the first ever appearance of any document from this show since none of this material has appeared on any other King Crimson release and there are no audience recordings either.  The sound quality is slightly hissy in quieter parts but, like the other professional multi tracks from the Crimson archives, devastating in detail and the sheer power it carries. 

The drums, bass and guitar are turned high in the mix with David Cross’s violin slightly below the others on par with the mellotrons.  The tape cuts out four minutes into “Fracture.”  It is not known what follows although most set in this period ended with “The Talking Drum,” “Larks’ Tongues In Aspic Part II” and an encore of “21st Century Schizoid Man.”  As it is, the set list is identical to the show previous to this on March 31st at the Jahnhalle in Pforzheim. 

Crimson developed a real nasty edge to their music in this period which is perfectly captured on Starless And Bible Black and Red.  The infernal “The Great Deceiver” is one of their best set openers with “cigarettes, ice cream, figurines of the virgin Mary” sung as a taunt.  The first improvisation is short, lasting only two minutes before is mutates into “Dr. Diamond.”  

The second improvisation follows and is more than six minutes in duration.  David Cross writes in the liner notes, “In the second improvisation there’s a lot of duetting that surprised me:  there’s Bill and I, and then the bass and violin really doing some quite subtle stuff together.  It’s a shame the violin is mixed down at this point but I can hear things going on in there beyond the usual stuff between the guitar and violin.  It’s quite nice to hear these other combinations.”  

“The Night Watch” sounds tremendous and is perhaps the only rock song written as a meditation on a Rembrandt painting.  The original piece of work is at the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam.  The sublimity is broken with the following song “Lament.”  Even though this song was very popular with the and appeared in almost all of the live concerts for this line up, the song seems more like a fragment.  “Starless” is a dramatic twelve minutes long and is followed by another very short, two minute long improvisation. 

This one is a delicate duet between Fripp and Cross, who calls this “a very beautiful thing – we could have done more with this really.”  After “Easy Money” the disc closes with “Fracture.”  This song sounds like a more insidious interpretation of “Larks Tongues In Aspic Part II,” sounding as if Fripp were bringing that LP to the brink of self parody.  It is a shame the tape cuts out when the band start to cook.  Live In Kassel April 1, 1974 is another very good release of the “Larks’ Tongues” Crimson line up that is very much recommended.  With so many of these archive tapes being posted as downloads by DGM, it is nice to have a silver release of this one.

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