‘On (And Off) The Road’ is the latest in DGM/Panegyric’s super deluxe King Crimson box set series. As opposed to previous sets which concentrated on individual albums, this one breaks the mould by covering the band’s three 1980s albums – ‘Discipline’ (1981), ‘Beat’ (1982), and ‘Three Of A Perfect Pair’ (1984). Review and photos by Tim Darbyshire.
It’s November, so it must be time for another super deluxe King Crimson box set! This one weighs in at 19 discs – 11 x CD, 3 x blu-ray, 3 x DVD-A, 2 x DVD – and provides a thoroughly detailed overview of King Crimson in the 1980s.
Each of the three studio albums represented here have their own cd, blu-ray and DVD-A discs with the latest Steven Wilson 5.1 surround mixes and ‘new’ stereo mixes. Of special interest is CD 5 entitled ‘Fragmented’, taken from the aborted 1983 studio sessions in Champaign, Illinois. There’s plenty of live concerts and videos included too. This includes the final concert from each of King Crimson’s tours of this era: Japan 1981 (new to CD), Germany 1982 (new mixes for this edition), Canada 1984 (issued as ‘Absent Lovers‘ in ’98 but remastered for this edition). Everything is presented in the high quality we’ve come to expect from these expansive DGM/Panegyric box sets.
The sturdy 12″ x 12″ box contains 5 six-panel triple digipaks, a 12″ x 12″ card with the other 4 discs, 2 concert posters, a 1984 Japanese tour replica concert programme, setlist, concert tickets, press releases, promo photo and a 40-page album sized soft cover book.
The book contains previously unpublished photos by Tony Levin, and sleeve-notes incorporating Robert Fripp’s diaries and new interview material with all band members written by the excellent Sid Smith and David Singleton. The extracts from Fripp’s diaries are particularly interesting, documenting the thought processes behind reforming the band.
Seven years after the demise of King Crimson after the album ‘Red’ in 1974, Robert Fripp decided it was time to return to the ‘first division’ and put together a quartet of musicians under the guise of Discipline. Fripp, who had spent many of the interim years in New York, was au fait with the New Wave bands on both sides of the Atlantic and accordingly recruited Americans Adrian Belew (Talking Heads, Frank Zappa, David Bowie) and Tony Levin (Peter Gabriel). Bill Bruford – a link to previous incarnations of King Crimson – completed the quartet, and although the music bore little resemblance to Fripp’s 1970s band, Discipline changed their name to King Crimson as the project gained momentum.
The three resulting albums – 1981’s ‘Discipline’, 1982’s ‘Beat’ and 1984’s ‘Three Of A Perfect Pair’ – have a more updated New Wave sound, partly due to Belew’s distinctive vocals and second guitar. Fripp was also looking to create ‘gamelan’ style of interlocking rhythms – an early influence for the math-rock bands of today? – and his complex arpeggios dovetailed with Belew’s range of angular guitar sounds.
Although ultimately short-lived – the band was dissolved after the 1984 tour by Fripp – this line up remains a popular one among aficionados. It was also the first time in Crimson history that the same band had recorded more than one album. Interestingly, until the very recent inclusion of ‘Indiscipline’ in the setlist, the 1980’s period has been ignored by Robert Fripp and the latest incarnation of King Crimson as they tour today.
Clearly, as with all box sets, this release isn’t aimed at attracting new fans. As the 1980s led us to commercialism and certain prog bands’ biggest selling (and worst) albums, King Crimson avoided falling into that trap. As a result, these three albums sound more current than most of Yes’ or Genesis’ 1980s output. The new mixes are (predictably) sonically stunning, and the plethora of material contained here makes this box a must-have for any fan of 1980s Crimson.
Luckily Robert Fripp owns all the rights to King Crimson’s recordings, a process that was not without a struggle. This of course means he has the freedom to release these large box sets. Somehow, sadly, I doubt we’ll ever see ‘Close To The Edge’ or ‘The Lamb Lies Down On Broadway’ receive the same treatment……
Full details of box contents (from Burning Shed website):
Disc 1 – Discipline:
1. Elephant Talk
2. Frame by Frame
3. Matte Kudasai
5. Thela Hun Gingeet
6. The Sheltering Sky
Selection of Adrian’s vocal loops
Alt. mixes of The Sheltering Sky & Thela Hun Ginjeet mixed by Steven Wilson.
Mixed and produced from the original multi-track tapes by Steven Wilson and Robert Fripp (2011). Mastered by
Simon Heyworth and Robert Fripp (4)
Disc 2 – Live in Japan:
Taken from an audience cassette recording at Kokusai Hall, Tokyo on December 18th, the final concert in 1981. Audio restored & newly mastered at DGM by David Singleton and Alex R Mundy 2016. (1)
Disc 3 – Beat:
Neal and Jack and Me
Sartori In Tangier
Requiem (extended version)
Absent Lovers (instrumental studio recording)
Mixed and produced from the original
multi-track tapes by Steven Wilson and
Robert Fripp (2016). Mastered by
Simon Heyworth and Robert Fripp (4)
Disc 4 – Live at Alabamahalle:
Recorded September 29 in Munich, the
final concert in 1982. Remastered and
recompiled 2016 by David Singleton
and Alex R Mundy with six tracks
from new audio sources. (2)
Disc 5 – Fragmented:
Mostly recorded January 17-30, 1983
at C.V. Lloyd Music, Champaign, IL
Recording Engineer: Gary Platt,
Produced by Robert Fripp and David
Singleton. Two new bonus tracks 2016. (3)
Disc 6 – Three of a Perfect Pair:
CD – 2016 Stereo Mix:
1. Three of a Perfect Pair
2. Model Man; Sleepless
3. Man with an Open Heart
4. Nuages (That Which Passes
5. Passes Like Clouds
2. Dig Me
3. No Warning
4. Larks’ Tongues in Aspic III
1. The King Crimson Barber Shop
2. Robert’s Ballad
3. Shidare Zakura
4. Industrial Zone A
5. Industrial Zone B
6. Industrial Zone C
Mixed and produced from the original multi-track tapes by Steven Wilson and Robert Fripp (2016). Mastered by
Simon Heyworth and Robert Fripp (4)
Discs 7 & 8 – Absent Lovers:
Live at The Spectrum, Montreal, July 11th, the final concert of 1984. Mixed by David Singleton & Robert Fripp from the original multi-track tapes for the DGM release Absent Lovers (1998). As newly recompiled in high-resolution for inclusion on Disc 15
Disc 9 – Are You Recording Gary?:
An insight into the inner working of the band, and the familiar heard in an unfamiliar way. Edited & assembled by David Singleton from original album session tapes, with additional downmixes by Alex R. Mundy
Disc 10: – Discipline (dvd-a):
Audio content: 5.1 surround mix; original mix; 2011 mix & additional tracks in 24/96 and Album rough mixes in 24/48
Video content: Old Grey Whistle Test (4)
Disc 11 – Beat (dvd-a):
Audio content: 5.1 surround mix; original mix; 2016 mix & Alternate Album in 24/48
Video content: Heartbeat promo; two tracks live in Munich (4)
Disc 12 – Three of a Perfect Pair (dvd-a):
Audio content: 5.1 surround mix;
original mix; 2016 mix in 24/48
Video content: Sleepless promo (4)
Disc 13 – Discipline (blu-ray):
Contents as Disc 10 (audio 24/96) plus:
Moles Club French TV interview
Live in Frejus 2016 audio & video transfers
Disc 14 – Beat (blu-ray):
Contents as Disc 11 (audio 24/96) plus:
Complete Alabamahalle TV broadcast (widescreen format).
Disc 15 – Three of a Perfect Pair (blu-ray):
Contents as Disc 12 (audio 24/96) plus:
Video content: Three of a Perfect Pair – Live in Japan (Widescreen format).
Japan April 29th 1984 Part Show;
Japan April 29th 1984 (single camera);
Japan April 30th 1984 (single camera).
Audio content: Absent Lovers
High resolution and surround sound
Disc 16 – Live at Moles Club:
Taken from an audience cassette recording of April 30, 1981, the very first performance by Belew, Fripp, Bruford & Levin, while still called Discipline. Remastered and recompiled 2016. (2)
Disc 17 – Europe 1982:
A newly discovered unreleased live album. Mixed by Brad Davis & Robert Fripp in 1983. Taken from the concert in The Arena, Frejus, August 27th 1982. Plus four bonus tracks from the remainder of the concert
Disc 18 – More Neal and Jack and Me (dvd):
Video content: The Noise – Live in Frejus as previously released on the DGM DVD Neal and Jack and Me (2002). Plus Three of a Perfect Pair – Live in Japan – re-assembled from newly discovered master reels with previously unseen footage. Both in their original 4:3 standard definition format.
Disc 19 – The Town and the City (dvd):
Audio content: Live in Philadelphia, Asbury Park, Cap D’Agde, Frejus 24/48 high-resolution stereo, Europe1982, previously unreleased live album 24/96 high-resolution stereo
Alabamahalle TV broadcast in its original
4:3 standard definition format.
40-page album-sized booklet with
previously unpublished photos by Tony Levin, and sleevenotes incorporating Robert Fripp’s diaries, new interview material with all band members written by Sid Smith and David Singleton
2 concert posters, concert programme, setlist, concert tickets, press releases, promo photo and other memorabilia
1) Previously available as a download only from http://www.dgmlive.com
2) Released in an earlier format in King Crimson Collectors’ Club.
3) Partly released in earlier format in King Crimson Collectors’ Club.
4) Available in King Crimson 40th Anniversary Series