King Crimson – Newyorker (Highland HL168#KC6)

Newyorker (Highland HL168#KC6)

Spectrum, Montreal, Canada – July 10th, 1984 

Red, Matte Kudasai, Three Of A Perfect Pair, percussion solo~Indiscipline, Sartori In Tangier, Frame By Frame, Man With An Open Heart, Sleepless, Heartbeat, Elephant Talk.  Kani-hoken Hall, Tokyo, Japan – April 29th, 1984:  Thela Hun Ginjeet, Dig Me.  Pritchert Gymnasium, SUNY Stony Brook, Stony Brook, NY – February 28th, 1982:  instrumental part, Larks’ Tongues In Aspic Part II

Newyorker is a strangely named old Highland release.  The bulk of the disc is occupied with a King Biscuit Flower Hour radio broadcast from a show in Montreal in 1984 and with supplemental material from Japan and Stony Brook.  Of the fourteen tracks, only the final two actually come from New York.  At the time of release this would have been relevant.  Two years afterwards the two disc Absent Lovers was released by DGM, an edit of the two final shows in Montreal.  More recently a more complete copy of this tape, with “Industry” and “Dig Me,” were posted on Wolfgang’s Vault.  And last, the KBFH portion of this release is sourced from vinyl with evident surface noise.  The Montreal tape is excellent quality however.  

The two shows at the Spectrum on July 10th and July 11th were the final for this incarnation of King Crimson.  Tensions within the band were taut and even this tape was an issue between Robert Fripp and Bill Bruford.  Fripp is quoted as saying, “We recorded the last shows on multitrack, sensing that the end of the band might be nigh.  This allowed for a possible live album to commemorate the outfit (as with USA).  Bill mixed the tapes for a Canadian radio broadcast, which became a bootleg (as with any radio broadcast) called Absent Lovers.  Any mix of any music is a presentation of a world-view:  a sonic society of the imagination, how we see that world and our place in it.  When I was given a copy of Bill’s mix, it confirmed my sense of Bill’s Crimson world-view, and gave deep offense.”

Commentators are in general agreement that this is one of the greatest live documents ever produced.  Even those who don’t care for the new-wave Adrian Belew Crimo era claim this is great performance.  It seems as if the band were channeling all of their history, energy and talent.  The KBFH portion covers just more than half of the show with the emphasis upon the more accessible songs in the middle of the set and the final two numbers of the evening “Heartbeat” and “Elephant Talk.”  The more challenging numbers were left out.  “Red” is the first song on the disc and is the only pre-Discipline number.  The ominous instrumental is quite the way to gain the audience’s attention and the rest of the songs are drawn from the last three studio albums:  Discipline, Beat, and Three Of A Perfect Pair

Bruford plays an interesting percussion solo as an introduction to the whimsical “Indicipline.”  “Sartori In Tangier” is the Tony Levin showcase with is exploration of the possibilites of the Chapman stick.  “Sleepless” was their final radio-friendly hit and the set ends with the pactyderm whinings over a dance beat in “Elephant Talk.”  At the time of release this was an essential document.  But with the release of Absent Lovers with the entire show in amazing sound quality, this has become superflous.

The first two bonus tracks are “Thela Hun Ginjeet” and “Dig Me.”  Crimson played ten shows on their final tour of Japan and this comes from the April 29th show in Tokyo, from the official Three Of A Perfect Pair video release.  The sound quality is very good with the emphasis upon the lower frequencies.  The final bonus tracks are taken from a very good but slightly distant audience recording from the February 28th, 1982 show at SUNY Stony Brook.  These two are out of place since they occur two years before the rest of the material on the disc.  Nevertheless the instrumental part is three minutes long and recalls the improvisational prowess of the earlier line ups.  “Larks’ Tongues In Aspic Part II” is seven minutes long and drives the audience nuts.  Overall Newyorker is a bizarre potpourri release that isn’t really necessary these days.  The complete Stony Brook tape would make a fine release on its own if it were to ever be pressed.   

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  1. Although the spine lists this as HL168, it is actually HL137 as noted on the disc. HL168 is Genesis “Coming Down From Houston”.


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