Enjoy it! King Crimson's second official live album was originally released in and constituted a huge improvement over the disappointing first live record Earthbound from three years before. Extra violin and piano by Eddie Jobson was added later in the studio. The original vinyl release featured six tracks with the introduction Walk On.
The 30th Anniversary edition included two extra tracks in Fracture and Starless. Asbury Park is an improvisational piece named after the venue at which they were playing that night. I normally dislike improvisations but this one is ok and thankfully not overlong. While the Wetton-era is not my favourite period of the band, I do enjoy this live document.
The performances are mostly good and so is the sound. Of particular interest is the addition of violin to some songs that didn't feature that instrument in their original album versions, most notably on 21st Century Schizoid Man. As with its predecessor, their debut live album 'Earthbound' released in , this is also a posthumous live work, documenting the end of other King Crimson's line up. It was recorded in the final of the 'USA' live tour. So, 'USA', became the farewell album of this line up, with Robert Fripp guitar and mellotron , John Wetton lead vocals and bass , David Cross violin, viola, mellotron and electric piano and Bill Bruford drums and percussion.
Eddie Jobson violin and electric piano also appears as an additional musician. The main difference between both albums is with the line up. The line up on 'Earthbound' is weaker than on 'USA'. This third line up is one of the best line ups of the group. For instance, Bruford and Wetton are two of the best musicians of the 70's. And we have also here the presence of Jobson, an artist that I deeply admire. The original vinyl version has only six tracks.
In the band released the 30th Anniversary Edition, on CD format, with nine tracks. As this is the version that I bought, this is the version that I will review. Almost all the tracks recorded live were taken from two locations in the USA. They were recorded at the Casino, Asbury Park, in 28 June , with the only exception of its seventh track, who was recorded at the Palace Theatre, Providence, in 30 June This album was the first of three major collaborations between both musicians.
On the original live version of 'USA', this excerpt wasn't listed as a separate track and is only audible by a very careful listener. It serves as a kind of an introduction to the album. It has only minutes. The two last tracks on the album, 'Fracture' and 'Starless', are the two extra tracks that weren't featured on the original release of 'USA' and that only were added for the subsequent release of the 30th Anniversary Edition.
About the live performance, classics like the thunderous "Lark's Tongues in Aspic-Part II", the atmospheric and ominous "Lament", the sheer beauty of "Exiles", with its massive mellotron sounds, as well as the pure genius of "Fracture" and "Starless" are all represented here. So, fortunately we can have in the Anniversary edition, for the first time, two more of the best King Crimson's songs, 'Fracture' and 'Starless' thrown in for good measure.
Both tracks are also two of my favourites, especially the latter of which is easily one of my top five songs of the band. Another enjoyable aspect of the concert is the racy alternative lyrics to this track. An interesting inclusion of "21st Century Schizoid Man" is here as well, as by then the band was trying to move away from material from the earlier albums.
A real treat is the track "Asbury Park", a never before released instrumental that is a real fusion workout for the band, with speedy guitar solos, furious bass and drums, and creepy mellotron. Finally and considering that Cross was asked to leave the band during the sessions of Red, some violin and keyboard parts were re-recorded by Jobson. Conclusion: 'USA', released three years later than 'Earthbound', is a live album much better than 'Earthbound'. The qualitative differences are so huge that it can even be compared to the differences between water and wine.
As I wrote before when I made my review of 'Earthbound', several reasons contributed to make 'Earthbound' an atypical and failed King Crimson's album. On 'USA', or these factors simply didn't happened or were completely exceeded. But let's see it more in detail.
The decision of to break up the band again, surely doesn't brought demotivation and tension in the band's members, because there was certainly a great intensity, dynamic and musical chemistry between them.
I sincerely think that we can feel it all over the album. About the line up, it's very professional and creative, one of the best King Crimson's line ups. About the repertoire chosen, it's diverse and representative and represents some of the best that the group had done until then.
The live versions are all very good, having nothing to do with those performed on 'Earthbound'. The last but not the least, the sound quality is simply amazing. So, I consider 'USA' a perfect live album, unfortunately an underrated album sometimes.
It really has everything what a great live album must have. Prog is my Ferrari. Indeed, as is usually the case with prog, the live recordings lose a lot of the refinement that their studio counterparts set the standard for. This is especially evident with "Easy Money". While I love how crunchy and clean, yet hard-hitting the intro is on the studio album, the version here really just sounds messy.
And without Jamie Muir's inventive percussion antics, you realize very quickly just how integral he was to the sound of this era of King Crimson. There are still some very good tracks, however, notably "Exiles" and "Starless", as well as the improvisation "Asbury Park", which is really the album's most unique offering.
Much like Yes' "Progeny Highlights", this is a live album that you'd probably enjoy if you stumbled upon it but it's not really worth seeking out if you already have the studio albums. KC's sound had certainly become more aggressive by the time of their second live album.
Strong, but could have gone without Jobson. Representing their live concerts from their US tour in the year before Red, this live album contains a lot of strong performances, but is marred by the Jobson overdubs. Unfortunately, when they went to mix this album, they found that David Cross' violin The performance here is really powerful and improv.
I have at best had an ambivalent relationship with King Crimson. Some of their stuff is superb. Some of it is not that good. This live album is superb, though. It is followed by Lament which has so After years listening to different styles of music, I bought the "USA 30th Anniversary Edition" in , when I was rebuilding my collection of prog music. I must admit that some of the tracks were "new" for me, but all of them were so familiar!!!! The songs are from the last period of the band, Report this review Posted by Gabriel.
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