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21st Century Crimson Glory

21stcenturyKing Crimson is reincarnate this year with Robert Fripp and Jakko Jakszyk leading the band, joined by winds wizard Mel Collins along with Tony Levin on bass and three drummers – Gavin Harrison, Pat Mastelotto, and Bill Rieflin.  This will represent a major event in progressive rock circles as Fripp and his Crimson vehicle have a rich history as pioneers and practitioners of the form.

Of particular note for this new lineup is the inclusion of Jakko Jakszyk up front.  Jakko led an alumnus group of former Crimson band members called 21st Century Schizoid Band in the early 2000’s.  He was joined by brothers Michael & Peter Giles, Ian McDonald, and Mel Collins each from early versions of the band. They were captured live in Japan via high quality video production aptly titled “21st Century Schizoid Band – Live in Japan” in 2002, available from Gonzo Multimedia.

For any fan of live concert video and the early work of King Crimson, this disc is a must have both for it’s content and expert production values.  The track list is rich with early Crimson gems, absent from the stage for so many years.  After the end of the 1970’s, Fripp primarily performed “Lark’s Tongue in Aspic part II”, and “Red,” from the 70’s period, both amazing instrumental classics, but representing a pretty limited span of the band’s rich history.  Occasionally another early track has been performed, but this release includes a wealth of material from their first four albums including four songs from their debut, In the Court of the Crimson King.  Other gems like “Catfood” from In the Wake of Posieden, “Formentera Lady” and “Ladies of the Road” from Islands, two from McDonald and Giles, and other solo work are included. Another early live release available on CD, Pictures of a City -Live in New York, includes tracks from Lizard, which had never been performed live.

21st century schizoid band 1Jakko’s vocal delivery in this live setting are perfectly suited to the variety of early material, particularly given the the number of vocalists represented during these early shifting lineups. The rest of the band is in great form each being themselves quality musicians.  The alumni association did not last more than a few years so this DVD of the show in Japan is an important and thoroughly enjoyable document.

Looking back now, this video offers an exciting preview of what could be possible with a new band fronted by Fripp & Jakszyk, joined by Mel Collins and the rest of the band. Fripp stated in a recent interview that there will not be new music this year but rather “reconfigured” older material.  Might they pay tribute to their earliest work with Jakko up front, or will Robert keep the nostalgia in check – either way, the new band will be welcomed in all it’s Crimson glory.