Updated: Feb 23, 2022
In the Court of the Crimson King is the debut album of the British Rock band, King Crimson. It was released in October 1969 and is considered to be one of the most significant albums in the field of progressive rock, with the leading elements of jazz and classical music. The 44 minutes of this album is like going through a huge roller coaster ride. It is filled with the darkest parts of the decade like the Vietnam War, Cold War and the effects of such violence on the people of that time. The album consists of just five songs, but each exceeds five minutes, indifferent to the recent pop albums. The eyes on the album cover reveal incredible sadness and it reflects the music.
I. 21st Century Schizoid Man
The album cover shows the 21st Century Schizoid Man, who is terrified of the war and you can see that terror in his eyes. The first song is bizarre and sounds otherworldly with the use of classical instrumentation. With dystopian type lyrics by Peter Sinfield, this song talks about the Vietnam war. The violence and the negative effects of such wars will turn the
21st century into schizoids, who are detached and apathetic and tend to live in a fantasy world. The middle instrumental part of the song is called Mirrors. Its name is such because if you listen to it closely, as the bass increases, the guitar decreases and vice versa. The seven minutes of Mirrors is filled with sounds like TV static, hollers of an abnormal saxophone and can be considered a traditional prog-rock song.
II. I talk to the wind
My favourite song from the album, I talk to the wind is like a breath of fresh air after the first song. It's a gentle ballad with light drums and flute throughout the song. It carries on the lyrical theme of how the man is confused with everything going on around him and has lost faith in his surrounding people. Greg Lake's voice is so subtle and smooth that it kicks you into a feeling of deep subconscious and alienation.
Epitaph is an amazingly dynamic epic highlighting a gentle, acoustic guitar and Greg Lake's best vocal performance on the album. It is about how mankind's dark future is slowly coming to power. "March for no reason" and "Tomorrow and Tomorrow" are the two instrumental pieces included in this song.
It is not the best song on the album and also the longest one. You will just be bored by the song ends because after the instrumental part starts it feels like too much is happening at once and that the band members are just trying out new stuff on their instruments and then they decided to put it on the song. This has two instrumental pieces as well, "The Dream" and "The Illusion".
V. The Court of the Crimson King
The final song is called The Court of the Crimson King and it is to die for. It is so grand, with mellotron as the centrepiece instrument of the song. There are again, two instrumental pieces, "The Return of the Fire Witch" and "The Dance of the Puppets", both heavily influenced by a flute. The song does sound like a conclusion to the whole album and yet, leaves you wondering about the harsh reality of the world.
In the Court of the Crimson King gave birth to a separate sub-genre of progressive rock or something to that effect. The album originally received mixed reviews but it gained popularity eventually. Bands like Genesis and Yes were influenced by King Crimson. For anyone who wants to get into progressive rock, this album might give you a head start for that!