A YEAR IN MUSIC: KING CRIMSON – Red (1974) (2)

A YEAR IN MUSIC: 1974
Review by: Alex Alex

“Red” by King Crimson is a concept album, telling a story of two brothers.  The older brother loved the younger one very much, ever since their childhood.  When he first learned that his mother was pregnant he could not hold the tears of joy, that’s how he loved his younger brother. The older brother even could not think of his own life as a separate one from that of his younger sibling.

As teenagers both brothers spent together much time on the streets of the New York, engaging in quite dangerous, perhaps, even criminal activities. Probably, they were members of some street gang, though the story does not have that clear. It was not a rare thing that the brothers participated in knife fights, often receiving some wounds.

Then the older brother moved some other place, we are not told where but it’s an airplane flight from New York. The younger brother remained in New York, continuing his shadowy activities, and was killed one winter in a street fight, presumably by some other gangsters.

When the older brother had learned that, he immediately flew from where he was living to New York. During the flight he can not think of anything but the blood. He is trying to sleep but cannot and is seeing the blood everywhere, as in a nightmare. That’s the blood of his younger brother. At the same time he realizes that bloody nightmare will be the last thing he will remember of his brother.

The older brother safely arrives to New York. He is now calmed down and thinks of the absurdity of the providence which has led to that tragic death.

Finally he stands at the funerals. It is a bright sunny day but he is not able to see the sun. All he sees is blackness. Some old friends are trying to tell him some words of condolence but he does not really hear, nor sees them, only seeing starless and Bible blackness all around him.

The album is called “Red” because of the blood and the earth. 

The phenomenon of seeing a total blackness under certain emotional stress is described in other works of art (“And Quiet Flows the Don” is the most prominent example) and is quite a common thing to experience should you happen to be VERY unlucky.

For an equally heartbreaking tale of two sisters see this movie: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0365376/
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A YEAR IN MUSIC: KING CRIMSON – Red (1974)

A YEAR IN MUSIC: 1974
Review by: Roland Bruynesteyn

Red by King Crimson is the best album of 1974, and its relevance over 40 years later cannot be exaggerated for several reasons:
  • Anything conceived by Robert Fripp is obviously bound to be interesting, possibly even more so if released under the KC brand name
  • KC singlehandedly kept prog rock relevant by reinventing it, when others were starting to become silly dinosaurs, or tired rock stars, or both
  • The musicianship is absolutely stunning. Technical virtuosity by itself is never enough, but it almost always helps
  • As the big box The road to Red (that I’m lucky to own) shows, their playing is not just studio precision, KC 1974 was a thundering machine when playing live
  • Red more or less set the template for several musical sub-genres, such as doom rock, prog metal, industrial (and even its popular spin offs like Depeche mode)
  • Red not only preceded the aggressive punk attitude, it did so in a very sophisticated way, showing that you can channel your anger into music and words
  • Starless and the title track are just two amazing songs…