including Entry of the Chameleons
- Indoor Games
- Happy Family
- Lady of the Dancing Water
With its grandiose aggregate of clashing styles, whirling free-form improvisations, soaring classical themes and dramatic showcases and showdowns, Lizard, is even by today’s standards, a remarkable and extraordinary album.
Given the ambitious ground it attempted to cover, it’s perhaps no surprise that King Crimson’s third studio album still has the capacity to polarise opinion amongst enthusiasts, and even those who helped make the record in September and October 1970.
This 40th Anniversary Edition comes with a brand new stereo mix of the album and a truly stunning 5.1 surround sound mix that reveals previously hidden depths and details of some of the most challenging music King Crimson has recorded. In addition to the 2004 remaster there are three bonus tracks including a previously alternate take of Lady of the Dancing Water, and an early studio run through of Circus.
“The 23-minute title track sounds more like a kind of free-form post-Miles era Gill Evans than anything you might have caught down at the Fulham Greyhound...Not everything comes off but the sense of adventure that drives the whole enterprise is admirable.” Paul McGee, The Word.
“Often described as “jazzy”, Lizard is basically baroque rock, but its mellotron fanfares are mixed with the splintered lines of jazz pianist Keith Tippett and the free-blowing horn section from his sextet.” Mike Barnes, Mojo.
“Lizard...is a flawed and mostly unsatisfying though intermittently brilliant work whose highlight is the lengthy multi-part title track which features then then comparatively unknown Jon Anderson on vocals.” Tommy Udo, Classic Rock presents Prog
from Robert Fripp’s sleevenotes
My view of Lizard, until very recently, has been this:
Lots of ideas, mostly presented simultaneously & very few of which work. Various bits are unsure whether to try & make connection with a unified central theme, or maintain their independence. Mostly, the search for a unified central theme escapes satisfaction & the constituent elements adopt a semblance of neutrality, so as not to attract culpability for their involvement. Labour & labouring, mostly joyless, strive effortfully to present the appearance of cohesion.
There is one exception: the Bolero. The main theme, played on oboe by Robin Miller (co-principal oboist with the BBC Symphony Orchestra under Boulez at the time) is a gift. This is a melody which sustained me in difficult times.
A being-melody can survive almost anything we do to it.
Within the corpus of Crimson albums, Lizard is, historically, one of the least popular - if we are to rely on royalty statements for the numbers. (NB but best not to rely on royalty statements for very much at all, including numbers & royalties).
Nevertheless, some strange characters in the listening community liked, even developed a passion for, Lizard; above all the Crimson albums of the First Period. Perhaps the leading very strange Lizard lover is Steven Wilson, a driving force in moving the Crimson catalogue to 5.1 & re-presentation for the coming decade.
My gratitude to Steven for taking this on. I had not believed it possible for anyone to see into the centre of Crimson in a way that would convince me. Even were that possible, surely Lizard would defeat them? Steven has reached into Lizard’s heart & drawn out its central core essence. Steven’s choices are 95-98% the choices I would make myself. For the first time I have heard the Music in the music.
Steven is in the minority, but not quite alone. A second very strange Lizard lover is Jakko Jakszyk, leader of the Schizoid Band. And, from time to time, in different places, I have met others who admit to the same strange passion. Now I can hear why.
Friday, 24th. April 2009;
Making sense of Lizard
A life-long King Crimson fan, 40th Anniversary Editions producer, Porcupine Tree's Steven Wilson, offers his thoughts on the challenges of remixing Crimson’s third album.
"One of the first things I said to Robert when we started talking about the 5.1 mixes was that I wanted to do Lizard because for me, that’s always been an album that was too big for stereo to contain. There’s so much going on in that record.
I’ve always felt that if presented in the right way, I could make a case for this being the most experimental rock record ever made. It’s extraordinary what they’re doing on this album. In terms of fusing free-jazz with progressive rock for me there’s almost no parallel and yet it seems to an album that is overlooked by jazz fans and progressive rock fans alike.
When I was doing the Battle of Glass Tears, there were sections of that where the solos are all blowing free jazz and on the master tapes there are multiple takes. To try and figure out that spaghetti took a lot of focus and attention. That’s definitely the hardest remix I’ve done so far because the master tapes were in such a terrible state. There appeared to be no logic about where things were on the tape. I mean it was as though they were trying to make an album with 48 tracks but they only had 16. It was very ambitious.
That solo at the end of Lizard (Prince Rupert’s Lament) is just one take. There’s no edits in there. That’s 2 1/2 minutes and the notes he’s pulling out - the feeling, the sustain, the emotion. I mean if I do a solo I’ll do about 50 takes and edit the best bits together and it might sound good at the end. But just to step up like that, without any effects - just a bit of distortion and echo. Amazing."