King Crimson – Wolvescivic (Tarantura TCDKC-2-1,2)

Wolvescivic (Tarantura TCDKC-2-1,2)

Civic Hall, Wolverhampton, England – September 10th, 1971

Disc 1 (44:01):  Good evening / mellotron tuning, Pictures Of A City, MC / tuning, Cirkus, Formentera Lady, Sailor’s Tale, tuning, The Letters, MC / tuning, O’Rafferty’s Pig (aka Cadence And Cascade)

Disc 2 (45:29):  MC, Ladies Of The Road, Groon, 21st Century Schizoid Man, Mars

Wolvescivic captures King Crimson in a pivotal point in their career. Having already assembled the third incarnation of the band and playing limited engagements in Germany and England, they went to Command Studios in London to record the fourth Crimso LP Islands. While doing so they scheduled dates around the country during September with final overdubs and mixing completed by October 8th.

The tapes from these dates reveal the band playing music closest to the arrangements as they would appear on the LP, and even include two very rare performances of the title track “Islands” on October 15th and October 16th in Brighton. Two older releases claim to be from the September 10th Wolverhampton show, but both Complete Wolverhampton (ZA 57, 58) and Mortal Flesh (PF-216D) are really from the October 9 show in Preston.

The confusion probably comes from reversing the notation of the date. Tarantura is thus the first legitimate silver release of the September 10th Wolverhampton show from a tape that has been circulating for a while. The sound quality is very thin with narrow fidelity and a significant distance from the stage.

There is very little hiss on this mediocre tape and it is enough to hear what is occurring on the stage. Robert Fripp’s and Boz Burrell’s stage announcements are difficult to make out at times. There are several cuts on the tape: after “The Letters,” between “Groon” and “21st Century Schizoid Man,” and before the start of the final song of the evening “Mars.” There is no music lost in these places but some of Fripp’s parting comments before the finale are cut.

The show represents a middle ground in the short career of the Islands-era Crimson. The early dates saw them playing many older songs from the first album, the first line-up’s cover of Donovan’s “Get Thy Bearings” and “Lady Of The Dancing Water” from Lizard and ending the show with the early band’s “Mars” dramatic extravaganzas.

By September the Holst “Mars” finale was still retained from the first line up’s stage act but the covers were gone and there was less reliance on the old material. The new songs were taking precedence in the set and even at this point they were being pushed past their studio counterparts, three months before the album’s release. The tape begins with Fripp saying, “Sorry I was late but I was on the lavatory. We’re gonna do two things tonight. The first is tune these mellotrons….Everything’s been going well up till now…this is about a round about garbage dump… on the east coast of America….a song called ‘Pictures Of A City.'” Afterwards

Boz introduces “Cirkus” by forgetting which album it is from, first saying the Poseidon LP before correcting himself and saying it is from the Lizard LP. “Formentera Lady” and “Sailor’s Tale” are segued together with the latter’s thumping rhythm signaling the transition between the two. After a bit of tuning the band play “The Letters” which is notable for it’s stunning, melodramatic contrasts. Finally the first disc ends with Boz introducing the next song which he strangely calls “O’Rafferty’s Pig.”

“The subject matter is…RUDE…LADIES” is how Fripp introduces the bluesy “Ladies Of The Road.” This tune is one of the more common in for this line up and was the first song written the previous spring. Most of the time it one of the highlights of the set, but his version sounds a bit tired. Maybe they spent too much time with the ladies??

A twenty-minute version of “Groon” follows and features a long Ian Wallace drum solo in the middle. He plays the first half of the solo straight. Ten minutes into the piece Wallace stops playing the drums. Amid some bangs and audience laughter he recites something that is completely inaudible on the tape before picking up with the drum solo again, using synthesized effects.

He is doing his best Carl Palmer complete with taking his shirt off and posing for the crowd! The lack of visual aids diminished the impact, but it sounds like a bit of fun. Fripp follows this with an unaccompanied guitar solo that is both depressing and spooky and builds in fuzz as he continues to the end of the song. “21st Century Schizoid Man” is played with Boz’s vocals through the synthesizer giving him a very harsh tone. The finale of the show is a ten-minute version of “Mars,” also known as “The Devil’s Triangle.”

This is a slow building, intense piece with a coordinated light show which eyewitnesses say is one of the best pieces of rock theater. It’s a shame that no evidence of this was ever filmed. (Or if it was filmed, it certainly hasn’t surfaced. Another great lost piece of progressive rock art).

Wolvescivic is limited to one hundred un-numbered copies. This is also Tarantura’s second King Crimson release and is a step up from the disappointing Going To California.

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