ALL AT SEA

King Crimson, captained by the redoubtable Robert Fripp for well over half a century, have never been timid about re-jigging the rigging and giving the band’s back catalogue a lick of varnish. As time has passed, the offerings—aimed squarely at cashed-up Boomers—have become more lavish. But unlike some artists (or their estates… not looking at anyone in particular, Experience Hendrix), DGM give good boxed set. And there are lots of them, lavish, expansive, and not recommended for those of shallow financial draught.

From the moment of arrival at the DGM Live web site, you are greeted with a wry yet accurate statement of intent.

Readers may recall that The Road To Red featured in these pages some time back. That was a DGM box, one that traversed—as our intrepid metaphor crawls out of the sea onto land—an epic path, containing a skein of concert highways and byways from the 1974 Larks’ Tongues In Aspic tour that paved the way for Red. It was a huge collection of live recordings, and I worked my way through it over a period of many months. Yet despite interest in variations of setlist and performance energy levels, an inevitable tide of repetition dragged at the legs; I decided I would not spring for further Crimson releases that duplicated material already in the Vinyl Connection collection.

Hence I did not rush out and buy the 1969 box in November last year, despite revering the seminal KC album In The Court Of The Crimson King. I have the LP, scarred but much loved, a crappy-sounding late 1980s CD, the spruced up 40th anniversary re-issue CD with bonus studio material, the four volume Epitaph series featuring the Greg Lake era band in concert… it’s enough, right? Right.

So I bought the Sailors’ Tales  box instead.

There are many things elevating this extravagance to the status of Necessity. Firstly, it includes all three studio albums from the 1970—1972 period of King Crimson’s development: In The Wake Of Poseidon, Lizard, and Islands (which contains “Sailor’s Tale”, the track giving the box its name). It also includes a new and improved Earthbound, the legendary/notorious live LP from 1972.

Including high quality card copies of the ‘Poseidon’ and ‘Lizard’ covers is a nice touch. The ‘Islands’ cover fronts the booklet.

Secondly, and more importantly, the box bountifully fills out the period before 1973’s Larks’ Tongues In Aspic. Not only are the three albums interesting, creative and at times downright exciting, but the band that was changing, stretching, discarding and developing during this period has never been properly documented before. With 21 CDs, 4 Blu-rays and 2 DVDs, I think we can consider the case now closed.

As the package only arrived today, I cannot say much about the unreleased concerts or rare material, but I can share with you in pictures what a beautiful job DGM has done with this seventh major KC boxed set. The only criticism I can muster is the absence of musician information on any of the CD sets (or indeed in the book). Still, as the ghastly fried chicken ad says, “Shut up and take my money”.

Each tri-fold digi-pak contains three CDs

Presumably, after the box was planned, they found some extra material and decided to cram it in. Bless ’em.

Solid booklet. Words, pictures, info.

We also get a large format poster (double sided), flyers, advertising and other ephemera.

Then, when you think it is done, there is a little cardboard folder containing more replicas: ticket, backstage pass, an Atlantic Records set of three photos. Even a copy of a contract. Very much like the original package of delights included with the early editions of The Who’s Live At Leeds. It’s a lovingly curated treasure trove.

Yes, it’s expensive. Yes, it is excessive. Yes, the studio albums are all a normal person needs.

Do I love it? Fuck, yeah.

36 comments

  1. And how does earthbound sound?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Ha! The question of a true KC aficionado! I’ll let you know, Neil. Earthbound is disc 18… I’m up to #5.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Well it’s a long road and I thank you for your sacrifice, I have to admit it would’ve been the first disc I listened to.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. “21 CDs, 4 Blu-rays and 2 DVDs.”

    And there’s a boxed set before this? Holy Sh*t.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Mate, there are SIX lavish boxes before this (in terms of releases, not chronologically). This is my second, and it will do me for a while, I think.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. SIX!! Holy hell. Yeah man, if that one set doesn’t last you ages, I’d be surprised. Man oh man, they weren’t kidding about the whole ‘extract your hard-earned’ thing.

        Liked by 1 person

        1. Exactly. On the plus side, no-one will complain about the size of the portions!

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          1. Man, in my dreams, Guided By Voices puts together sets like that as Bob’s retirement fund. There was soooo much that was vinyl-only and limited numbers back in the day, and a metric shit-ton of b-sides too. I’d love to get all that stuff in one place. ‘Cos I need more GBV, yessir I do… (glances askance at my lovely wife, she just rolls her eyes)…

            Liked by 1 person

            1. 🤣
              Listening to my favourite GBV as I type, Aaron. “Universal Truths and Cycles”.

              Like

            2. Ooooo that’s a great one! James got me that one on LP as a gift!!

              Liked by 1 person

  3. Oooft. That looks like a rare treat for a a KC fan, Bruce! Whenever I see these boxes with multiple discs of extras (at 27 discs this here is certainly the most expansive set I’ve ever seen) I wonder where all this material is stored! Especially when it’s an artist from the 60’s and 70’s… when it’s all tape… not digital stuff! I mean, you read about folk unearthing boxes that they forgot about, but this but this must have taken up some space!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. A well-deserved “Oooft”, J. Fripp and his people have always been archivists and, most unusually for the late 60s/early 70s, kept soundboard tapes (cassettes, I assume) of many many concerts. In this case (as with Road To Red) these were then unarchived and cleaned up. There were previous download versions of many of the concerts; perhaps testing the public/fan appetite for such extensive banquets!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I wish more artists took that much care of their work. Incredible that there’s so much stuff to fill these boxes consistently. Bravo. That’s what I say!

        Liked by 1 person

        1. Yep. As I was saying to Aaron, Fripp’s obsessive archiving is now our delight!

          Liked by 1 person

  4. pinklightsabre · · Reply

    I think my hairdresser Donnie helped Fripp get the licensing rights to extend their back catalog and I’m going to see him today, so will ask. Each time I read about your love of KC it makes me want to feel the same, I’ll try again! I envy the passion you have for them and the joy they empart. That’s a staggering clump of content there.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Have you tried ‘Discipline’, Bill? Although it is not at all like either the earlier material nor the later incarnations, it’s a ripper of an album.
      Staggering clump is good.
      Please give my warm regards to the redoubtable Donnie.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. pinklightsabre · · Reply

        I can picture the cover and I think imagine the sound, but I’ll re-engage. These things take time. Thanks Bruce…

        Liked by 1 person

  5. I dont know what to say. Maybe just how cool it is that KC keeps giving. I was hooked into my vinyl Red album the other day. Just gets better. I guess I do have something to say. If I had your wallet I’d throw mine away. Great stuff Bruce. Keep the KC train rolling.

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  6. Love this. Fripp has always been aggressive about people poaching KC intellectual property. But at the same time, I’ve always thought he’s been quite generous in giving fans exactly — and in most cases, more — of what they want. You are fortunate to have this set. Or as the old beer commercials used to say, you deserve it!” – Marty

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Cheers Marty. Let me just review a relevant anecdote from the booklet re your comment on RF…

      “Recording and releasing “Cat Food” was not without its share of controversy, not least because of a dispute over who wrote the song’s parts. (Ian) McDonald recalls being outraged upon hearing that the track was initially credited to Fripp and Sinfield alone. “They weren’t going to credit me at all,” recalls an indignant McDonald. “Fripp claimed to have written the whole thing…”

      Fortunately, McDonald had a recording of his demo, and thus a one-third writing credit.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Always a bit of drama in Fripp World!

        Liked by 1 person

  7. Wow Bruce. I admire your dedication. I quite like music, no really I do, but I really don’t think I like anyone enough to listen to so much of one band, even one as varied as KC as to work my way through a box set of this size.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Fair call, Joe. I tend to take my time with these ‘live archives’ sets. Maybe a year’s worth of live Crimso here!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. So a CD of live KC. A week then?
        Have you ever seen them yourself?

        Liked by 1 person

        1. Sadly, no. I regret not attending the last Melbourne visit, sometime in the late 90s I think. The double trio (then quartet) make a rightious noice. I think my gobbling up of live material is a compensation for never having seen the band in the flesh. This could well be something I should take up with my therapist as I think my count of live KC exceeds even the Miles bunch.

          Liked by 1 person

          1. Some friends of mine saw them in 2019, mixed reviews on the whole. I didn’t go because tickets were priced way over casual interest rate.

            4 friends from work went, only one reported that it was brilliant.

            Liked by 1 person

            1. Yeah. Ticket prices for superannuation shows are real steep. It would be a challenging gig if you didn’t know the catalogue well, I reckon.

              Liked by 1 person

            2. FWIW, I saw them in 2019 and I can report that it was absolutely brilliant!!

              Liked by 2 people

            3. Correction: It was 2018 when I saw King Crimson. (Doesn’t time fly …?) But it was still absolutely brilliant. 🙂

              Liked by 2 people

  8. Then again, who would ever want to be merely a normal person?!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Excellent point.

      Liked by 1 person

  9. 365musicmusings · · Reply

    Very nice box and unpacking pics! Wouldn’t buy, myself, but very cool!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. But you love live recordings! 😉

      Liked by 1 person

  10. You completist, you!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It’s a dirty job, JDB, but…

      Like

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