Tuesday, 13 August 2013

King Crimson - Lizard (How Many Copies Series)

Having established the 70's Live Album Series, now for something else.

The propensity nowadays is for remasters, reissues, deluxe editions and so forth. First we bought the vinyl LP, then the cassette, then the CD. Now we can have the remastered CD, the SACD and even the DVD/ blu-ray. Why do some of us nutters, buy copies of the same album? Is it madness, completeness, the search for the best sounding version or the best packaging. Maybe it's all of those and more. So here we have;

How many copies of King Crimson's Lizard do you really need?

Going by the photo, three. Or to be more accurate there is actually four. Lurking around somewhere there is an Editions EG CD, which may be the 1989 Definitive Edition as mastered by Fripp and Tony Arnold. I think the issue on this is a bit vague. I am not sure how many different CD editions were released in the 80's.

The origin of my vinyl copy is a bit vague too. I remember having a very tatty, scratched copy back in the 70's which someone gave me. But when I searched out Lizard for the above photos was greeted by a pristine copy, with the Editions EG label and manufactured in Canada.

I actually don't remember getting this. I know I bought The Young Persons Guide to King Crimson in Ottawa on one of my visits to family there, so I assume I must have bought it around the same time.

I do love this album. Firstly, the album cover by Gini Barris is spectacular. Intricate, colourful, with images reflecting all the songs on the album. I also love the marbling on the inside of the gatefold and the lettering too. The whole package is one of my long time favourites.

In terms of King Crimsons recorded output, Lizard has always been undermined, even by Robert Fripp. Maybe it's because it's like no other album in their catalogue. It is a strange sounding album. The instrumentation, arrangements and mix are weird. But all that adds to the charm of the album. In fact it was the love for this album that spurred Steven Wilson on to want to mix the King Crimson catalogue in 5.1 surround. After doing so, even Fripp came round to actually seeing the merits in it.

Shown in the top photo are the 30th anniversary CD edition, which was initially released in a sumptuous cardboard sleeve mimicking the original LP design. That was mastered by Simon Heyworth. The other package is the 40th anniversary edition, which is the Steven Wilson mix. Though the digipak packaging pales in comparison to the mini LP version, the booklet is very good, with excellent notes by Sid Smith and the mixes on the CD and DVD are excellent. Wilson has really brought out new details, nuances and clarity and you can see why he was drawn to wanting to work on this. King Crimson are my favourite band and it is heartening to see their catalogue being given such attention. This may be the last time Fripp revisits the catalogue, unless there is a huge jump in technology to warrant him doing so again. We shall see!


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