King Crimson – Live In Mainz (Club 15)

Live In Mainz (Club015)

Elzer Hof, Mainz, Germany – March 30th, 1974

(58:09):  Improv The Savage, Doctor Diamond, Improv Arabica, Exiles, Improv Atria, The Night Watch, Starless, Lament, Improv Trio, Easy Money

King Crimson’s March 30th Mainz show has been a popular show for collectors given the intensity and fascinating improvisations.  The first title to be released with material from this show was on Live In Germany ’73 (Rarities & Few Records TKCD 1110) in 1990 with “Improv The Savage,” “Doctor Diamond,” “Exiles,” “Improv Atria” and “Easy Money.” 

Two years later the complete show was released on Quartet Plays Trio (MOONCHILD RECORDS 920607/920708).  To this day it remains the only title with the complete performance.  The third and final release of this tape is on Knock Me Out (Heart Breakers HB-943-1/2) in 1999 which not only lists the wrong date and city (citing the previous night in Heidelberg), but is missing “Lament.

Live In Mainz is a 2001 release on the King Crimson Collectors Club label, one of their earliest efforts.  It is an almost hour long soundboard recording with excellent sound quality.  But unfortunately it cuts out after “Easy Money” and is missing “Fracture” and “Larks’ Tongues In Aspic Part II.”  

John Wetton writes the liner notes for this title.  Reflecting on this period, he writes that “as a performing group, we had been developing a style of improvisation which I believe was unique to this quartet. Most of the improv bands at the time would have been Jazz, but we were the only artists to operate in a ‘rock’ environment. Our beefy rhythm section was crowned by an outstanding soloing team of Robert and David, and my monitors were inevitably de-throned by the firepower of the band.”

The tape starts off with an ominous improvisation called “Savage.”  The two minute piece is dominated by the atonal screeches of Fripp’s guitar.  Bruford underlies the tune with tympani flourishes recalling an oncoming thunderstorm before the break into the brilliant “Doctor Diamond.”

“Arabica” follows “Doctor Diamond.”  Another adventurous improvisation, it lasts only two and a half minutes and is named because Bruford’s percussion sounds like the  procession of a Bedouin traders leading their camels to the next oasis.  It forms the perfect introduction to “Exiles.”  

Another fascinating improvisation is “Atria,” a six-minute moody affair sounding slightly like Relayer era Yes (months before the recording of that LP).  The slippery guitar melody clashes with Wetton’s funky bass and Bruford’s percussion.  It’s not until Fripp hits a more catchy melody does Wetton provide an interesting bass line.  It is probably so-named because the bassist gives room for the other musicians to improvise, providing a open space (or atrium).  

Tight performances follow of “The Night Watch,” “Starless” and “Lament” before they play “Trio” exactly as it was played at the more famous Concertbegouw performance.  The tape unfortunately runs out during “Easy Money” omitting “Fracture” and “Larks’ Tongues In Aspic Part II.”  

Live In Mainz is a good release.  It’s nice having a great recording of the songs and improvisations.  It is a shame KCCC didn’t edit the missing portion of the show from the audience tape to present a complete performance.  That would have been definitive.  But, this is good for committed collectors of the Aspic era Crimson.

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  1. I’ve got this in the double package with the Asbury Park show, and man is it great!!

  2. I love how the tape just runs out, no fade.


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