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Larks’ Tongues in Aspic – King Crimson

1973, 8.5/10
After the tour for Islands, Fripp effectively rebooted King Crimson, dismissing the remaining members. Peter Sinfield, who had contributed lyrics since the debut, had already been dismissed during the tour. In their place, Fripp recruited a new band with strong collaborators – bassist and vocalist John Wetton has a gritty voice that works well with the harder edged material, while masterful drummer Bill Bruford was poached from Yes. Percussionist Jamie Muir and electric violinist David Cross are also part of the band, while Richard Palmer-James, formerly of Supertramp, takes over the lyric writing. With a much stronger set of collaborators for Fripp, Larks Tongue in Aspic is the group’s first essential album since their debut.

Larks is also much tougher sounding than their previous albums – with Cross on board, Fripp is mostly playing guitar, and a lot of the album is taken up by complex instrumentals, the two parts of the title track and ‘The Talking Drum’, which builds from gentle percussion to sheer cacophony. Jamie Muir named the title tracks for their balance of delicacy (larks’ tongues) and acidity (aspic). The instrumentals overshadow the three songs, but ‘Exiles’ is a pretty, mellotron laden epic, and the abrasive sound of ‘Easy Money’ works well.

After a rough ride in the early 1970s, Robert Fripp returned with a new lineup of King Crimson, and Larks Tongues in Aspic is an impressive return to form.

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