King Crimson – Going To California (Tarantura TCDKC-1)

Going To California (Tarantura TCDKC-1)

Community Center, Berkeley, CA – June 16th, 1973

Doctor Diamond, Larks’ Tongues In Aspic Part 1, Bob chats, Easy Money, Exiles, Talking Drum, Larks’ Tongues In Aspic Part 2, 21st Century Schizoid Man

King Crimson’s hour long show at the Community Center in Berkeley in the summer of 1973 ranks among the more popular audience recordings, judging by the amount of titles released. Astral Navigation (KC-90-8077) is perhaps the earliest, and two songs; “Doctor D” and “21st Century Schizoid Man” are included on The Mince (SIRA-CD 27/28) along with the October show at The Rainbow. Ayanami issued this tape on the cdr title Falling Angel (Ayanami-019) and the same people were responsible for the last release on silver Berkeley 1973 (Siréne-053), released around Christmas time in 2004. Going To California is the first King Crimson release for the Tarantura label. This is an excellent, well-balanced audience recording that is notable for its detail. Compared to the Siréne release, the Tarantura is louder. Their version is also noticeably shorter than the others since they edited out some of the crowd noise at the tape pause after “Larks’ Tongues In Aspic Part 2”. There is also a cut in Fripp’s opening remarks eliminating the phrase “I believe the general thing” that is on the Siréne sounding as if Tarantura got hold of a faulty tape. The concert comes from close to the end of Crimson’s tour of North America in support of the LP Larks’ Tongues In Aspic. It began in April and ended on July 2nd in Ohio.

For this date in Berkeley, presented by Bill Graham, Crimson was supporting The Eagles who had recently released their second album Desperado. A tape of their set exists although has never been booted before. Choosing the Berkeley tape as the first Crimson release is a curious choice for Tarantura. For although the tape sounds good, the point of interest in Crimson gigs are the sonic explorations and long improvisations. The songs performed are there to give the audience a point of reference in the face of the overwhelming music coming from the stage. What makes this show unique is the lack of improvisation by the band, who opted for a jukebox style set list. The reason for this is because the band were limited to an hour onstage. The new tune “Doctor D” opens the set. This song about a drug pusher is one of the better set openers in Crimson’s work and unfortunately never made it onto their next album Starless And Bible Black. This leads into a note perfect version of “Larks’ Tongues In Aspic Part 1” before Fripp addresses the audience by saying, “ This is where the vibrant personality of the sexy guitarist leaps to the fore to stimulate us and drive us all into ecstasy and excitement. I believe the general thing is I shout ‘are you alright children?’ and you shout ‘yes’. And I shout the same thing two or three times more or less on key and we get to an incredible pitch of excitement. Having already reached that peak I think we can surge on to a new ecstatic height.”

“Easy Money” is the closest Crimson came to a cock rocker with its suggestive, and very obscure, lyrics. There is a brief interlude before a mournful version of “Exiles”. The improvement in the recording really brings out the mellotron in this song giving it an early Moody Blues Days Of Future Passed feeling. Another brief mellotron passage hints at some improvisation but the rhythm section leads the band into the finale with “The Talking Drum” and “Larks’ Tongues In Aspic Part 2”. After cheering and a cut in the tape the band play an almost eight minute long version of “21st Century Schizoid Man” as an encore featuring the guitar pyrotechnics. From the reaction of the audience this is the favored song of the evening and a very good one at that. Going To California, a title inspired by the great Led Zeppelin boot of their 1971 performance at the same venue, is packaged in a very thin cardboard sleeve with photos of the individual band members on the back. The front cover is a gorgeous work of art featuring a Gustave Doré illustration for Dante’s The Divine Comedy featuring Farinata degli Uberti addressing Dante and Virgil from The Inferno: Canto X. This is limited to several hundred copies as are all Tarantura releases. Since the sound quality is about the same as the Siréne and there is an unnecessary cut found on this really makes this superfluous. The Siréne release is preferred over this. (GS)

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