the king is calling

king crimson in 1995. from left: adrian belew, bill bruford (sitting), pat mastellotto, robert fripp (sitting), tony levin and trey gunn.

king crimson in 1995. from left: adrian belew, bill bruford (sitting), pat mastelotto, robert fripp (sitting), tony levin and trey gunn.

15 years ago last autumn, the mighty King Crimson was in the midst of an international tour that celebrated what has come to be known as the prog-rock group’s “double trio” lineup. That meant founder and chieftain Robert Fripp was doubled with Kentucky native Adrian Belew on guitar, that veteran Crimson drummer Bill Bruford was teamed with then-Crimson percussion newcomer Pat Mastelotto and that bassist/Chapman stick innovator Tony Levin was paired with a young champion of a mutant device called the “touch guitar” by the name of Trey Gunn.

Such a makeup might suggest Crimson only played sets of tag team jams at the time. But the sextet’s nearly two year-long tour provided a bold and complete voice to Crimson’s ‘70s material (the still majestic Red), a potent new immediacy to its ‘80s music (especially the giddy rampages at the heart of  Indiscipline and Neurotica) and, most of all, a platform for then-new ‘90s music that both created a wonderfully monstrous racket (Vrooom) and cooled the Crimson fury in more meditative pop streams (Walking On Air, which captured one of Belew’s finest vocal turns).

So why does all of this matter today, aside from the fact that Crimson’s double-trio music still rocks like mad? Well, it’s like this. As of yesterday, you can grab an exquisitely recorded performance by King Crimson and also do some honest good in a corner of the globe that could really use some.

Available at the Crimson website, www.dgmlive.com, is a download of a double-trio performance from October 13, 1995. The concert locale: Sendai, Japan – a region devastated by the recent earthquake and tsunami.

To be honest, the site has long had a motherlode of archival Crimson and Crimson-related performances dating back to 1969 available for downloading. But this 1995 show is different. All proceeds from downloads of the Sendai concert will be donated to the Japanese Red Cross.

If you’re a King Crimson fan, you will in no way be disappointed by this music. The performance is stunning and the recording quality even more so. If you know absolutely zilch about Crimson but are open to some mid ‘90s sounds that remain fresh and daring, this download is for you, too. And if you simply like the idea of reaching out to another land in a time of incalculable need, step right up. The King is calling.



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