Sweeping anniversary reissues planned for King Crimson’s Larks’ Tongues In Aspic

DGMLive has announced details for the forthcoming 40th anniversary reissue of King Crimson’s Larks’ Tongues In Aspic, the only album to feature the quintet of Bill Bruford, David Cross, Robert Fripp, Jamie Muir and John Wetton. The reissue, which DGMLive says is due October 15, 2012, will be released as a CD/DVD package, in a two-CD package, and in a giant limited edition box set.

Larks, issued in 1973, marked the debut of John Wetton in King Crimson, as well as drummer Bill Buford — who had just left Yes, as the group prepared to tour behind Close to the Edge. Muir left Crimson during the tour in support of this release, and the remaining quartet continued through Fripp’s initial retirement in 1975.

The new double-CD reissue includes a clip of the quintet performing the first portion of Larks’ Tongues In Aspic from the legendary Bremen Beat Club recording, which has been much bootlegged over the years — though reproductions have been of varying quality. (It’s also previously been available through DGM’s Collector’s Club.) The CD/DVD reissue includes a new stereo mix and selected audio extras, with a DVD featuring a new 5.1 surround mix, original and new stereo mixes, a full album of alternative mixes by Steven Wilson and more than 30 minutes of unseen footage of the band performing live in the studio.

The box set includes an amazing 13 CDs, a DVD, and a Blu-ray, all housed in a 12-inch box with new booklet and special memorabilia. The DVD mirrors the content from above, while the Blu-ray also includes additional hi-res stereo material — all presented in DTS Master audio. Four of the CDs feature studio content, including session reels featuring the first recorded takes of all pieces on the album. Another CD includes live studio sessions. The eight additional CDs are restored live-audio bootlegs and soundboard recordings.

The expanded set also includes a 36-page booklet with an extensive new interview with Robert Fripp, notes by King Crimson biographer Sid Smith, album sleeve print, concert ticket replica (with a special code for further concert download) and band photo postcards. This box set is limited to initial orders, one pressing only, to a worldwide maximum limit of 7,000 units.

Further details, including how to pre-order, are forthcoming from DGMLive.

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THE KING CRIMSON INTERVIEWS

Here are links to our exclusive talks with members of King Crimson, including modern-era figures like Adrian Belew and Tony Levin, as well as legacy contributors like Greg Lake and John Wetton. Click through the titles for more …

ADRIAN BELEW

On the future of King Crimson: Adrian Belew’s just-completed tour with Tony Levin and Pat Mastelotto presented an opportunity to revisit their time in King Crimson. Unfortunately, Belew says, partial reunions are all that fans are likely to see for the foreseeable future. Belew also talks about the difficulties in relearning Crimson’s complicated catalog and the suddenly murky future of a band that’s been around since the 1960s, but hasn’t issued a new studio recording since 2003’s Power to Believe.
On his thunderous experiment with the Metropole Orkest: Adrian Belew, coming off a fascinating collaborative effort with the Metropole Orkest, was set to revisit his celebrated tenure with Crimson on a summer tour. But not before stopping by for a SER Sitdown “I couldn’t exactly say that the orchestra was going to be what it turned into, such a powerful and modern version of orchestral music. A lot of people have said this to me — and I take it as a compliment: It’s got a lot of Zappa and King Crimson attributes to it, orchestrally speaking. Still, there’s not much to refer to in that area. I didn’t have a lot to go on, to know what it was truly going to turn out to be, but I am very very pleased with the results.”
On “Dinosaur,” other memorable cuts: The band returned in a groundbreaking new double-trio format, featuring Belew, Fripp, Bruford, Gunn, Levin and Mastelotto. Thrak ended a 10-year span between albums, dating back to 1984’s 3 of a Perfect Pair. Belew says he has gotten used to these long periods of inactivity. In fact, he says they usually lead to important breakthroughs. Such was also the case with 1981’s Discipline, which followed a seven-year band hiatus: “I call those honeymoon projects. You come back with so many ideas.”
On helping to restart King Crimson in the early 1980s: Discipline was an album that retooled the group’s core prog-rock vibe with a modern sheen. It didn’t seem, at first, like the best fit — since founder Robert Fripp is a noted guitarist himself: “That was one of the ideas, especially in Robert’s mind, to carry on the musical legacy but with a whole new brand of music. Each of us had new toys that no one else was using like the stick, and the guitar synth. I really felt like we ended up making something fresh that didn’t sound like anything else.”

JOHN WETTON

On King Crimson, then and now: Prior to joining supergroup Asia, Wetton had been part of a quartet of seminal albums, 1973’s Lark’s; 1974’s Starless and Bible Black and Red; and 1975’s live document USA. The period saw Crimson make some of its most experimental and influential early recordings, but also begin to lose sales momentum. By the time Red was issued, in fact, Fripp had already disbanded the group in favor of a short-lived retirement. “King Crimson,” Wetton allows, “was nothing if not a paradox.”
On “Starless,” and other key cuts: Wetton discusses signature moments from his tenures in Asia, King Crimson and as a solo artist. As he prepares for 2012 projects with UK and then with Asia, he took us inside the creative process on a decades-old album that, even today, Wetton says he’ll be hard-pressed to match. Find out how optimism has shot through Wetton’s work since he stopped drinking, and how the title track from King Crimson’s Starless and the Bible Black somehow ended up on the group’s follow up release. Oh, and what Asia’s mega-hit debut — the biggest selling album of 1982 — has in common with Adele’s current blockbuster release.

TONY LEVIN

On playing with King Crimson, Peter Gabriel, John Lennon: When we caught up with the ever-transforming bassist, he had just taken part in a fearless trio album with guitarist David Torn and Yes drummer Alan White: Part prog, part free-form improvisational music, part noise rock, Levin Torn White brought in each of their familiar textures and sounds, yet sounded somehow completely new. Levin talked about Levin Torn White, and as well as landmark moments from his career with Crimson, Paul Simon, Peter Gabriel, John Lennon and others.
On “Thrak,” and other landmark moments: Part of the legendary “double trio” period for King Crimson, as the proto-proggers returned after a 10-year absence following 1984’s 3 of a Perfect Pair. The concept presented unique challenges for those involved, with six members simultaneously contributing their own ideas: “Challenging, for sure!,” Levin says. “As usual with Crimson, we embraced the challenge, trusted in Robert Fripp’s judgment that we had the right musicians, and that the direction would be new and worthwhile. The result did justify that trust.”

GREG LAKE

On King Crimson’s beginnings: We dicussed the debut album by King Crimson, and Lake’s initial collaborations with Fripp. Rather than sounding embryonic, the album arrived fully formed – almost as a kind of prog-rock template: “I knew what he could play; he knew what I could play. That’s one of the things that was underpinning King Crimson – that Robert and I are almost one person, in a sense. I really know exactly what he’s going to play.”
On “Court of the Crimson King,” and other key songs: Find out more about what made Crimson’s initial lineup such an endlessly interesting amalgam, the special chemistry that Carl Palmer brings to Emerson Lake and Palmer, and how the legendary keyboard solo on ELP’s most memorable song almost got erased before anyone ever heard it. Lake also shares his memories his memorable initial encounter with ex-Thin Lizzy guitarist Gary Moore.

Something Else!

The Something Else! webzine, an accredited Google News affiliate, has been featured in The New York Times and NPR.com's A Blog Supreme, while our writers have also been published by USA Today, Jazz.com and UltimateClassicRock.com, among others. Contact Something Else! at reviews@somethingelsereviews.com.
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    MORE FROM AROUND THE WATERCOOLER AT SER TOWERS …

    TOM JOHNSON: I’ll have to see the pricing on this one, but I think this is getting filed in the “you’re not getting it” file. Thirteen CDs?! I don’t need those 8 live bootlegs. I, and most of the target market for this box, probably have all the live ‘LTIA’ band we need already thanks to the Collector’s Club and DGM Live downloads. I’m betting these aren’t anything new but repackages of DGM Live downloads. If this is as expensive as I’m thinking it’s going to be, DGM only has themselves to blame if this doesn’t sell well. It could easily have been just the “other” 5 CDs and Blu-ray/DVD and been a great box (still overkill, I guarantee it, just like the ‘Court’ box was.) Why they couldn’t offer an edition without the live stuff, I’ll never understand.

    NICK DERISO: From my end, I can’t think of an album that’s ever been put out where I would pay for a 13-disc reissue examination.

    MARK SALESKI: Trout Mask Replica.

    TOM JOHNSON: I’m still kind of disappointed that ‘Discipline’ was merely given the typical CD/DVD treatment. I think it’s much more of a landmark album than ‘LTIA.’ Even ‘Red’ should have gotten more than that.

    NICK DERISO: I don’t think I can make it through the first disc from Beefheart! Heh.

    MARK SALESKI: Certainly an acquired taste, I will admit.

    TOM JOHNSON: Back on the ‘Larks’ reissue — doing some looking around, and I’m seeing quite a bit of negativity being spewed toward this mega-super-giganto-deluxe. I think they might find a very lukewarm response to this set. I don’t know who is guiding decisions like these. Should have done some fan-based research – asking around for what people truly want would have been a very wise idea. I’m betting an ’80s box covering all three albums at once with sessions, outtakes, and some live stuff, would probably have been huge. They’re kind of dismissing those three albums like afterthoughts.

    NICK DERISO: I’d like both, actually!