Tuesday, 29 October 2013

King Crimson - USA 40th Anniversary Series

This is the album that isn't! It says USA by King Crimson but it's not the same beast that I heard back in 1975 on vinyl. That album had remix assistance by Eddie Jobson on violin and piano. The improv Asbury Park lasted around 6 minutes and segued straight into Easy Money, the guitar solo of which was faded out. Lastly, 21st Century Schizoid Man actually came from another concert venue, namely Providence. None of that exists on the CD portion of this new issue. What we have is a mix of the full concert which took place at the Casino Arena, Asbury Park. So no Jobson, a longer Asbury Park improv with Cross more prominent in the mix, a longer instrumental section at the end of Easy Money and 21st CSM from that venue.
While it's great to hear the whole concert as it was, especially the full improvs, I personally prefer the original USA as it appeared on vinyl. That may be in part due to long time familiarity of the album, but I can see why Fripp and Wetton made some of the mixing decisions they did. For instance the greater presence of Cross's mellotron on Asbury Park, though giving a more symphonic sound to it, does reduce the power and impact of Fripp's guitar and actually the whole band. The keyboards are too dominant. Also, Fripp's solo after Easy Money is one of his very best and nothing after the brilliant peak of it could add anything more, hence why the fade out works so well in maintaining the power of what has come before.
You do get a hi res version of the expanded USA album on the DVD, but this new mix is Casino Arena, Asbury Park, not USA. It says USA on the packaging, but it's not the same USA on the CD.

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