In The Court Of The Crimson King (1969) was the debut album of the legendary prog band King Crimson. It still belongs to one of the best progressive rock albums ever made and moreover to one of the first real prog rock releases. The Mellotron-parts in the title track and in Epitaph are just breathtaking. Therefore I always have had a soft spot for this album and it's just bad luck that no video footage is available from that period. That was one of the reasons that I followed the activities of the 21st Century Schizoid Band, a collection of musicians performing the music of King Crimson. Most of them played in KC as well, except Jakko M. Jakszyk (lead guitar, lead vocals, flute, keyboards), who was too young to participate in one of the many line-ups. However, Mike Giles (drums), Ian McDonald (keyboards, flute, sax), Pete Giles (bass) and Mel Collins (sax, flute, keyboards) were all once members of KC.
I could already enjoy several CD-releases, but until now never a DVD. The live performance at Tokyo's Shinjuku Kouseinenkin Hall in November 2002 got a live release on CD and DVD in 2003, but I never had the chance to see the footage of this DVD. I felt lucky that Live In Japan was re-released in 2010. This meant that I could enjoy the strong material from KC's debut album on film after all. It's true, not from the original line up, but that doesn't matter that much to me. The bonus-CD from the same concert is a nice extra, but I think that a many people already have it in their collection, so it's only interesting for those who were ignorant of this release.
On Live In Japan you can enjoy songs taken from the first four KC-albums: In the Court of the Crimson King (1969), In The Wake Of Poseidon (1970), Lizard (1970) and Islands (1971). Tracks from related albums including McDonald & Giles, McDonald's Driver's Eyes and Michael Giles' Progress are also on the set list. The almost hundred minutes of concert footage shot in Japan are worthwhile watching with fine close-ups of the musicians and a 5.1 surround sound. So there's neither a reason to complain about the sound and the images, nor about the performed songs. The choice between the KC-material and the compositions of the other projects is well-balanced. However, not all songs appeal to me, but the classic KC-pieces like In The Court Of The Crimson King, Formentera Lady, I Talk To The Wind, Epitaph and 21st Century Schizoid Man are very well performed. Compared to Robert Fripp Jakko M. Jakszyk obviously is another kind of guitarist and also his lead vocals differ from the vocals on the original recordings. I don't mind, for the songs come very near the original versions. I think that was the intention when they went on tour as the 21st Century Schizoid Band.
The DVD has some nice extra's that are also worthwhile. During the interviews you learn things you never heard before. Also the footage of the recordings of the Official Bootleg, Volume1, the band's first CD-release, shows some interesting stuff. A glimpse of their debut at the Canterbury Fayre is very enjoyable and finally they included footage shot in the Queen Elizabeth Hall in London. Personally, both the CD and the DVD of Live In Japan felt like a pleasant journey back in time. I'm sure that, since I liked it, many other prog heads will find this document interesting. Especially recommended to people who love the early days of King Crimson!
*** Henri Strik (edited by Peter Willemsen)
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