Tag Archive: mel collins

You can get your own copy of this album from here: http://bit.ly/kingcrimsonislands

And so we sail our ship into choppy waters and the fourth studio album by King Crimson… Beware the sirens call!

You can get your own bent-up copy of this album here: http://bit.ly/redvinyl

And so “Red” from 1974 gets the deluxe 200g vinyl treatment from Discipline Records.

You can get your copy of this album from here: http://bit.ly/fishoutofwaterdeluxe

And so I decided to look at the various solo albums that were released by the members of Yes after the release of “Relayer”

This was requested by a number of viewers of Prog Review, so I thought I’d sit down and share my thoughts on this often-overlooked King Crimson album.

You can get your copy of the 40th Anniversary Edition of LIzard here:

Click here for HD version

Well my review of Fly From Here on YouTube proved so popular – gaining more visits in a day than this site is getting in a week thanks to Google stuffing me in the page ranking – that I’ve recorded some more of my reviews for the YouTube service.

A Scarcity of Miracles by Jakszyk, Collins and Fripp

In the Land of Grey and Pink [40th Anniversary Edition] by Caravan


A Scarcity of Miracles Album Cover

Very easy listening...

I came to this record with trepidation, because I unfortunately knew how it was going to pan out and how this review was going to be. I wanted it to be different, but the strengths and weaknesses of this recording were already highlighted in the promo video released before this collection debuted. Also, Robert Fripp in his diary had indicated that it was a certain type of record that would only appeal to a certain kind of person.

But firstly, let’s get the thorny issue of whether or not this is King Crimson. Like the Sylvian/Fripp album was a King Crimson album in all but name, this could be viewed as part of the KC catalogue if Fripp hadn’t gone off into experimental territory between 1972-2003 and stayed with the same set of musicians from the 1971 band. Obviously, the sax roots the album to that band and Gavin Harrison’s tasteful drumming is reminiscent of the late Ian Wallace in places, and in parts Jakszyk sounds as if he is channeling the plaintive vocals of Boz Burrell, but don’t think that this record is anything as exciting as “Islands”.

The format and packaging is identical in style to the recent 40th Anniversary remaster series put out for King Crimson, with the album coming a slipcase, containing a two-panel double CD tray and a separate booklet.

Lesser men will carp that this is the greatest album Fripp has been involved in for thirty years, but I am here to deliver my spin on things and not some puffed-up, self-promoting PR speak. First off, the most exciting track of the record you’ve already heard – the title track is the money shot, it is the song that best represents the collection and it is no wonder they made a video to accompany that track because it is the best song to promote the record.

The title track is sublime, it is a good collection of elements we’ve come to expect, shimmery soundscapes, flowing sax lines and an easy-listening vocal. And herein lies the problem for me. You really have to be a fan of Jakszyk’s voice and his lyrics to move forward with this record and I’ve never really liked any of his work. He’s a great guitarist and musician, but his voice and words just make me want to stick knitting needles in my ear canals. His style is a throwback to all those awful songs from the 1980s that I cannot abide. Replace him with David Sylvian or even John Wetton and the record would have improved 100-fold for me. But that’s just me – you might like his sixth-form lyrics and his dictionary of rhymes approach to wordsmithery.  He is the weakest link of the album for me and I would have preferred a completely instrumental mix of the album – for there lies true reward.

And while it is nice to hear Fripp do his thing – there are plenty of soundscapes and leadlines for you to get your teeth into – don’t expect him to take off in full flight. This is Fripp taking a Sunday afternoon constitutional around his village with his Missus on his arm. He is gentling, he is taking the weight off his feet, he is in third gear. And it is nice to hear Fripp in this mode, because he has become linked to burning guitar solos, but there are none of those here. Just gentle washes of sound and delicate phrasing.

The real revelation is of course hearing Mel Collins performing against a wash of soundscapes. Like Theo Travis before him, the sound of saxophone against Fripp’s soundscaping is a rare thing of beauty and I like this a lot. I want more. This is good – in an easy-listening kind-of-way.

And that’s the nub of the problem, it is an easy-listening album for the prog generation. I see an old folk’s home populated by grey-haired and whiskered old geezers wearing tattered Genesis, Yes and Rush T-shirts being played this to calm them down after getting excitable after viewing Rick Wakeman doing his grumpy old man shtick on BBC’s Watchdog show.

It is an album that runs in one gear. There are no peaks and troughs – it is a steady journey through increasingly familiar territory. After the title track, it all turns into a sepia, watercoloured wash of more-of-the-same. Put this on if you don’t want to scare the Vicar, or if you are hosting a dinner party and you don’t want the music to overshadow your conversation, or even if you are having trouble sleeping. It’s one of THOSE records.

At the halfway mark, it was getting increasingly difficult for me to continue and by the final lap, the suicide-inducing “The Light of the Day” I had decided it would be hard for me to sit through a second listen. But I did, and I did it for you, dear reader – for I had my first listen in 5.1 surround sound and my second listen in stereo on the headphones to get the full vibe of the record.

The surround sound mix is sumptuous and you are surrounded by Fripp’s soundscapes and Collin’s sax. As usual, this is the premiere way to hear the album and makes it even more of a coffee bar background-music affair. There’s the video to behold in 5.1 and an album’s worth of alternate mixes and two improvisational tracks that formed the basis of “This House” and “Secrets”. It’s a pretty complete package you’d expect from DGM and there’s also a high-resolution stereo mix to check out too. The stereo mix is well mixed – with all the elements well represented. In fact, the production is very clean and very good indeed. There’s a lot of space for the instrumentation to breathe and it’s not has dense or claustrophobic as other KC recordings (obviously). My condemnation of Jakszyk only extends to his vocals and lyrics, for his production skills are well met here and bode well for his future 5.1 surround mixes of the KC back catalogue he’s been put in charge of.

As a package, you certainly get your money’s worth but the strength of this collection lies on whether or not you like your prog served over-easy. I myself prefer to sail in more choppy waters.

And here’s a little video review I made to express my thoughts on this record:


I notice that some of you have come here looking for this album to download for free. Don’t be daft. I am not going to host any files on this site from any other artist than myself. If you do want something free that sounds a little bit like King Crimson (in places), then click the link that follows to access a free voucher that will allow you to download my latest “The Luckiest Man in the World” album for free. Hallelujah!


poseidon.jpgThe second in this batch of reissues is the also the second album released by King Crimson during its long career in the business they call music. Personally, it is not a record that I am a particular fan of, as structurally and tonally it pitches its tent in the “In the Court of the Crimson King Part 2″ territory.

However, I was looking forward to the 5.1 surround remix of this because these new remixes do throw new light onto these recordings and Steve Wilson’s work often shines the torch into dark corners we’ve never been exposed to before.

In terms of packaging, it follows the usual slipcase and double disc tray package, but despite the booklet including the usual history of the time from Sid Smith there is no separate commentary from Robert Fripp about this album. Perhaps there was nothing left to be said about this period?

But onto the review of the music, for that is what you are all here for, no? Initial impressions are that this record is very much a showcase for the talents of Michael Giles. Yes, he was apparent on the “In The Court” 5.1 remix, but here his drums are mixed very much to the fore and are delivered with a piquant crispness deserving his unique lolloping style.

Album opener “Peace – A Beginning” arrives out of an audio soup – just like it does on the original recording – though in this instance the transformation from murk to clarity is more apparent.

Perennial stomper “Pictures of a City” is transformed – more so than say “21st Century Schizoid Man” – as it is now wider, crisper and carries more depth and detail than ever before. Of course, I am a little resistant to its charms due to its over-similarity to its older sibling “Schizoid Man” but the syncopated stop-starts are tighter than its predecessor and it seems that everything is faster in this mix. Of course, that’s my ears playing tricks on me.

“Cadence and Cascade” is a welcome break from the hubbub and in this version its pastoral nature is laid bare, with its instrumentation tastefully spread around the surround spectrum with the piano breaks popping up just as they did in the stereo mix. One criticism – and this is a criticism that I will also level at the title track – is that the vocals seems to be mixed way too low. Gordon Haskell’s voice is slight on this track anyway, but now the instruments grab your attention to the detriment of the near-whispered vocals.

The same can be said of “In the Wake of Poseidon” – Greg Lake is no whisperer, but his powerful vocals here are drowned out by the instruments, which is a shame as both tracks end up feeling a little unbalanced. In terms of the mix, the title track hasn’t sounded better and its cinematic nature and powerful mellotron-flavoured lead lines are there to propel the song forward. However, the lack of detail in this mix starts to make you wonder if the original recording was a little under-developed, but that’s the critic in me rearing its ugly head.

“Peace – A Theme” is presented as is. It doesn’t sound particularly as if it has been mixed for surround – it’s just a lone guitar playing the theme. However, I would have expected a little more atmosphere from the surround mix, but I didn’t feel it and to these ears, it might as well been the stereo mix.
“Catfood” is a delight. OK – it’s up there with “Ladies of the Road” in terms of annoyance factor, but here the surround sound mix comes into its own and the piano of Keith Tippett is allowed to dance around the field and Lake’s vocals are bounced around the rear speakers for the “Catfood” refrain on the chorus. The track is really opened up and benefits greatly from this spit-and-polish.

“The Devil’s Triangle” is not a track I would wish to sit through more than a handful of times in this lifetime, but I did it again for you, dear reader, and I hope you appreciate the suffering I endured to make it through to the end. In this instance, the original master tracks for the song were lost and so Simon Heyworth presents the stereo master enhanced by a 5.1 upmix – something I’ve never heard on one of these types of discs before. Surprisingly, the effect works, you do get a sense of sitting in the middle of the song, but in terms quality compared to what’s preceded, this track stands out like a bit of a sore thumb, the ugly guy at the orgy, if you catch my drift. Again, what else could they do? Leave it off the album? I suppose this is the best compromise but it doesn’t matter as I have no plans to revisit this track again for another 10 years anyway.

“Peace – An End” brings together the elements from the previous two “Peace” tracks. It sounds nice enough but in terms of a mix, the surround sound does nothing for it. I think it (and its siblings) works better in the stereo mix.

As a surround sound album, it works nicely enough except for the upmix of “The Devil’s Triangle” and illustrates the gulf between the recording quality between this and its co-release “Islands”. The instrumentation here – especially the drums – are pristine and so make this a much livelier and satisfying prospect, whereas “Islands” will always sound a little more strange to these ears due to issues at its original recording stage.

The package is made complete by the inclusion of more versions of the charmless “Groon” than you can wave a stick at (no I can’t stand that one either and, for me, is like the audio equivalent of pulling – there’s a reason why it was a B-side, you know). However the real item of interest for the fans is Greg Lake’s vocal take of “Cadence and Cascade”, which illustrates the subtleties of vocal performance and how interpretations can differ between two vocalists.

Overall, it is an interesting release but no matter how much fairy dust they sprinkle on it, this will always be the poor cousin to “In the Court” – it lacks the imagination of that album, the sheer bonkers doolally nutty charm of “Lizard” and the plaintive soul of “Islands”. In proper music reviews they say something like: “one for the fans”.