Title - Music Is Our Friend Live In Washington DC & Albany
Artist - King Crimson
For those unaware, named after the tour from which the performances were taken, Music Is Our Friend is an official bootleg featuring all of King Crimson’s final performance in North America in Washington, D.C. in September, 2021.
This 2CD set is completed with four pieces from the first concert of the tour’s second leg in Albany. Taken together, these tracks represent both a beginning and an end of a tour that took place despite almost insurmountable issues.
1. Introductory Soundscape
2. The Hell Hounds Of Krim
3. Larks’ Tongues In Aspic Part I
4. Pictures Of A City
5. The Court Of The Crimson King
7. Tony Cadenza Deals It Slitheryacious-To-The-Max
9. One More Red Nightmare
This magnificent 2CD live set opens on a musically layered audio introduction from Robert Fripp entitled Introductory Soundscape and then launches into the extended drum work of The Hell Hounds Of Krim which is then backed by the progression of abstract, mysterious percussion, followed by roiling, growling, evil guitar, followed by screaming proto-metal that is Larks’ Tongues In Aspic Part I, the gently frantic Pictures Of A City (which was inspired by the view of New York traffic during King Crimson’s first US tour) and then comes The Court Of The Crimson King (a track influenced by old world and olde English folklore, and the culmination of fantasies and imagined dreams by Fripp).
Next up is an instrumental piece scored for electric guitar (multi-tracked in three layers), bass guitar and drums, Red, and that is in turn followed by the short bass-laden solo moment, aptly entitled Tony Cadenza Deals It Slitheryacious-To-The-Max, the mysterious ebbs and flows of Neurotica (which shares its title with a Beat-era magazine of the same name), the first disc rounding out with the upbeat and groove-laden One More Red Nightmare (which is also notable for being the first King Crimson track to feature lyrics written by bassist and lead vocalist John Wetton), closing on the art rock of Indiscipline.
2. Radical Action II
3. Level Five
5. 21st Century Schizoid Man
6. Tony Cadenza Serves It Piping Hot
8. Larks’ Tongues In Aspic Part II
The second disc opens on the heavy use of the Mellotron within the simply divine orchestrations of Epitaph and the hard, heavy rock tones of the instrumental Radical Action II and backs those up seamlessly with the free-wheeling, fly away spirit of another instrumental in the form of Level Five, then come the mellotron strings, electric guitar and saxophone notes that introduce a vocal segment in conventional verse-chorus structure within the 15 minute opus Starless, and then the heavily distorted vocals, instrumental middle section (called Mirrors), prog rock entwinned with abstract free jazz of the 14 minute 21st Century Schizoid Man.
Up next is the oh-so qeitly sculputred, bas playing finese of the short, but ever so sweet Tony Cadenza Serves It Piping Hot which is in turn followed by the adventurous, experimental sounds within Discipline, the second disc rounding out on the more straightforward and riff-focused second of the series, Larks’ Tongues In Aspic Part II, coming to a righteous close on the pastoral, mellow, and quiet balladry (the lyrics talk of a peaceful island) of Islands; and which distinguishes it from most everything else they ever put out, in truth.
Originally scheduled for 2020, postponed for a full year because of the pandemic, the tour began July in Florida as the latest Covid wave hit and the band moved across the country in a tour bus bubble.
Following a two-week break due to scheduling conflicts, they returned to the road again, with the Zappa Band appearing nightly before Crimson.
Now facing gigs that had to be moved due to extreme weather, with one venue flooded a day before a concert, an open-air venue in New York transferred to the more familiar Beacon Theatre, and even a band member flown to hospital via helicopter, King Crimson faced a range of challenging conditions. Happily, the band member was fully recovered and no gigs were missed despite the array of setbacks and obstacles.
By the time King Crimson reached Washington, the band was in ferocious form with a powerful, energetic set with some arrangements reworked and differing from previous tours. Featuring a restored middle section of “Larks’ Tongues In Aspic Part One” that had not been played since 1973, substantial keyboard arrangements, Tony Levin on upright bass during “Neurotica” giving the piece an extra swing, there’s an emotional set-closer, Starless and an immensely powerful “21st Century Schizoid Man” as an encore.
King Crimson completed their tour in style and to much acclaim from fans and critics alike. As Robert Fripp notes in his diary entry included in the notes: “David (Singleton, KC manager/producer), pointed out that the very first piece KC played in the US, at Godard College, Montpelier, Vermont on October 29th. 1969, was the same piece as completed KC’s 52 years – 21CSM”.
In contrast to the Washington show, the four performances from the ‘Friends and Family’ concert in late August 2021 at The Egg in Albany, opening show of the second leg of the tour and the same venue where the current band played its first US gig in 2014, have a more intimate feel.
Bringing the second disc with a poignant performance of “Islands” – perhaps the best recording of this song by this band, David Singleton, who also prepared all the audio for this release, thought it one of the best sets the band played on this or previous tours.
The release features photos from the concerts, sleeve notes by David Singleton and diary entries for the concert days from Robert Fripp in a 24-page accompanying booklet.
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