Live In Zurich (Club 41)
Volkhaus, Zürich, Switzerland – November 15th, 1973
Disc 1 (40:53): Walk On… No Pussyfooting, Improv: Some Pussyfooting, Larks’ Tongues In Aspic Part I, RF Announcement, Lament, Peace A Theme, Cat Food, The Night Watch, Fracture
Disc 2 (59:00): The Law Of Maximum Distress: Part I, Improv: The Mincer, The Law Of Maximum Distress: Part II, Easy Money, Exiles, Improv: Some More Pussyfooting, The Talking Drum, Larks’ Tongues In Aspic: Part II, 21st Century Schizoid Man
King Crimson played eighteen shows in Europe during November 1973 and these would turn out to be their final shows of the year. On November 15th the band played the Volkhaus for the second time in the year (a tape of the April 8th show surfaced several years ago and was released on Volkhaus (Siréne-152)).
Crimson recorded the November 15th show and utilized part of the first improvisation of the night for “The Mincer” on Starless And Bible Black. In 1992 The Great Deceiver was released on DGM and has “Walk On … No Pussyfooting,” “Some Pussyfooting,” “Larks’ Tongues in Aspic, Part One,” “The Law of Maximum Distress, Part One,” The Law of Maximum Distress, Part Two,” “Easy Money,” “Some More Pussyfooting,” and “The Talking Drum” from this concert on disc four. The same tracks were reissued on The Great Deceiver vol.2 (Discipline Global Mobile DGM 986549) in 2007.
A poor audience recording with the complete show also exists. It was first used on Quartet Plays Trio (MOONCHILD RECORDS 920607/920708) in 1992, which has the tracks that were not included on the official release. The complete tape was subsequently booted on The Great Swindler (Night Sun Records Night Sun 003/004) and Dreams To A Real Show (Highland HL373/374).
Live In Zurich was released in 2009 and offers the complete show. All but “The Mincer” is sourced from a very good to excellent soundboard recording. It isn’t as lively as the Amsterdam tape from November 29th, but is still very enjoyable.
Because that section of the improvisation was edited out of the master tape and was edited with overdubs and vocals, it was impossible to retrieve the original performance. David Singleton and Alex Mundy have recreated the complete show by editing “The Mincer” from the audience tape. Although there is a vast difference between the two sources, the editing is very smooth (reminiscent of TDOLZ’s work earlier in the decade) and one hardly cares about the difference.
Amsterdam may be the more famous show, but Zürich is much more interesting and intense. It perfectly illustrates Bill Bruford’s observation in his autobiography that King Crimson was “excruciating, teeth-pullingly difficult music-making.” The standard numbers are surrounded by very long, complex and strange music.
“No Pussyfooting” starts off the show. The band join in the taped intro, adding their own parts, creating the “Some Pussyfooting.” It segues into the standard show opener “Larks’ Tongues In Aspic Part I.” David Cross, who plays a significant part of the improvisations in these November shows, has a disturbing, eastern European sounding violin break in the middle of the piece.
“Good evening, hippies” Fripp greets the crowd. He tells the audience that they are taping the show for the next King Crimson album, due out next November. They are taping here because they so enjoyed playing the venue in April. The also tell them they will try to tune the mellotrons to be withing a step of each other, and will play their new song “Lament.”
It still sounds incomplete even as it segues into “Peace: A Theme” and “Cat Food.” The latter were the surprise numbers for the tour, a nod to the first Crimson line up with Wetton doing a Greg Lake impression on vocals.
“The Night Watch” is common for this tour. It’s one of their more traditional sounding tunes, even if the subject matter sounds like a class in social studies (how many other songs use the word “bourgeoisie”?) An eleven minute “Fracture,” one of the most complex pop songs written, is a preamble to the long improvisations that follow.
“The Law Of Maximum Distress” starts off with an expressionistic melody, searching for some sort of harmonic center. Fripp on mellotron and Wetton play around with Ligeti sounding figures until Cross comes in with a memorable melody. Bruford lays down a heavy-handed funk beat underneath a very tense violin and mellotron melody.
It forms a continuous fourteen minute piece divided only by the latter additions. It’s obvious why this four minute section was chosen. It is the more melodic and accessible portion. It also is the most moody, conveying an atmosphere of dread.
After “Easy Money” and “Exiles,” they embark on the final improvisation of the night. The six minute “Some More Pussyfooting” shares a similar theme with the Eno-Fripp piece. Dominated by out-of-tune mellotrons, the rhythm section slightly contributes to the song. Wetton plays the scarce note and Bruford plays light percussion by the end while Fripp and Cross try to tune their mellotrons.
It comes to an end with the familiar thump of “The Talking Drum.” They close with “Larks’ Tongues In Aspic Part II” and “21st Century Schizoid Man” is the encore.
Live In Zurich is a potent document from Crimson’s tour of Europe. It is worth having for the impressive amount of improvisations including the long one which gave “The Mincer” to Starless And Bible Black. The editing job between the two tape sources is good very good as well and makes this a very valuable document to hear.