A few years ago I ran only one track from this session; the milestone Court of The Crimson King. At the time, it was all I had from what was their debut session for John Peel, recorded on May 6, 1969 and broadcast over BBC Radio 1 on May 11th. The way things often are, you wait around long enough and more becomes revealed. In this case, an additional track from that session has surfaced; I Talk With The Wind. So with that, I had to re-run the session with this new addition.
What’s interesting about this session, from a history standpoint, is that it comes roughly two months before they made their milestone appearance at Hyde Park, opening for The Rolling Stones. As the story goes, the crowds came to see the Stones because it marked the first time in 2 years the band played a concert. There was a lot of anticipation – the audience was also made up of fans who had come from all over Europe and the U.S. – There was a certain amount of buzz about King Crimson; the album was doing well and this session certainly helped get the message across. But the audience was there to see Mick Jagger and company and didn’t really care one way or the other about this new band. Even the film shot by Granada Television of the event itself focused solely on The Stones performance and only ran a portion of one song by King Crimson and very little or nothing of the other bands playing that free festival.
And even though The Stones Hyde Park Concert was considered a memorable event, the real excitement was over King Crimson and it marked a milestone for what would become one of the most innovative bands of the late 1960s – a band that, for all intents and purposes, ushered in The Progrock era.
Since most everyone now is familiar with King Crimson, and older collectors have at least one, if not all their albums in CD or LP in their collections, it’s hard to convey the impression that hearing this band had for the first time. They did not achieve mass acceptance as some bands of the 70s had, certainly the more mainstream acts at the time. But to a lot of people, this was what the music world was waiting for; Something to take Rock to the next logical step. King Crimson’s influence has been huge and wide and it continues, even though the band is some 21 incarnations away from the original (only Robert Fripp is the remaining original founding member), they still create excitement and Robert Fripp is still the innovator he’s always been.
I don’t know how you can do it – but try and imagine you’ve never heard anything remotely like this before, and this comes on your radio from seemingly nowhere. I just remember playing their debut album (In The Court Of The Crimson King) all the way through, and repeating it over and over for the better part of an afternoon. It drove the neighbors crazy, but this was something else and I needed to believe what I was hearing. Needless to say, King Crimson became a touchstone band – and from them, everything else made sense.
Give it a shot- hit the Play button and pretend you’ve never heard this before – and I would ask you to play it loud, but the sound of this broadcast is a bit creaky in spots and might not hold up to being pushed to 10 for any length of time.
But have a listen and enjoy nevertheless. Someday I may find the rest of the session – and life will be complete.