Discipline (40th Anniversary CD/DVD Edition) – King Crimson
After Robert Fripp disbanded King Crimson in 1974 it took him a good 7 years before he finally decided to put the band back together with a new incarnation of the band. He very much decided to reinstate the drummer Bill Bruford from the bands previous incarnation and brought in a couple of Americans.
The first being the session player Tony Levin who is very much well known and noted for his bass and stick playing with the solo artist Peter Gabriel. The other new recruit was Talking Heads guitarist Adrian Belew who had also played with the likes of Frank Zappa and David Bowie. Both were extremely talented musicians.
We were now in the 80’s and a lot of things regarding music had certainly changed in that decade. For me personally I felt that at least 80% of the music that was churned out in the 80’s was biggest pile of crap I have ever heard in any decade. It’s a decade I detested for all it’s new romantics and so called retro music.
There was no doubt that even the 80’s had changed a lot of bands I loved so much in the 70’s for the worse. And even they were churning out crap to try and keep some sort of limelight rather than continue doing what they was already doing 10 times better in the first place.
The band King Crimson were no exception at all, and there is no doubt that even their music had now changed. Though it was not completely a disaster has some of the 70’s bands were doing at the same time. There was no doubt King Crimson were heading in a new direction, and with the 3 albums they set out to do with this new line up in the 80’s.
They also appeared to be heading into a more commercial direction, and even the Mellotron that played quite a major part in their previous music was now nowhere to be seen, but they did still managed to keep some of their diverse ways and add noise to try and keep some contention of what this band was all about.
Over the next series of reviews I shall be bringing you the 3 albums made with this incarnation. Discipline. Beat and Three Of A Perfect Pair plus the 1995 album THRAK done with a slightly different incarnation of the band which will complete the 40th Anniversary Editions.
The only albums I have not brought in these 40th Anniversary Editions are Lizard and Islands. But I may at a later point buy them just to complete the series, and review them. Though they are not amongst my favourite of the bands output.
The 40th Anniversary Edition Release…
The 40th Anniversary Edition of King Crimson’s 8th studio album was released on the 3rd of October 2011. Though at this point the album was only 30 years old. But Robert Fripp decided that in 2009 when King Crimson’s debut album In The Court Of The Crimson King was 40 years old, they all was and he was not hanging around for them officially to become 40 years old and set out on another making money scheme.
Honestly this guy would try and sell you a dead horse (LOL) especially when you look at all the live albums, compilations and box sets he has released. You would have to be on a kings wages to buy it all :))))))))))). Thankfully this release was at a more reasonable price and cost me £17.61 on Amazon but even that was about £3 more expensive than some of these editions you can get on there.
But I cannot complain because this release does have the superb quality that many of the others do have about them in this series. I would also love to see both the albums The ConstruKction Of light and The Power To Believe given the same treatment as well, and they are the only ones that have not been given it so far.
The Packaging & Artwork…
The construction of all the packages for the 40th Anniversary Editions are very much all the same. It uses 2 thin layers of cardboard glued together to make the case and plastic holders commonly used in CD Jewel Cases to add strength to the case and they do provide better protection for the CD’s too.
A box is also provided to store the case and it also comes with quite a good well detailed booklet. The packaging is not the best of quality and is done on the cheap, but never or less ample enough to do the job.
As for the artwork it appears that for this incarnation of King Crimson that Robert Fripp has gone for signs or symbols. Fripp very much brought the rights to use a variation of a Celtic Knot design by George Bain. The original vinyl album that was released back in 1981 also had his design on the cover.
Later on Fripp decided to change the design and it was replaced by another Knotwork design done by Steve Ball. He even used this design for his logo of Global Discipline Mobile. Ball’s design is the one that is found on all subsequent releases of Discipline.
Discipline (40th Anniversary CD/DVD) Review…
The 40th Anniversary CD/DVD Edition of Discipline by King Crimson comes with a CD that contains the new 2011 mixes of the album mixed by Steve Wilson & Robert Fripp and a DVD with an array of many other bonus features including a 5.1 mix of the original album and some video content.
The CD & Bonus Tracks.
The new mixes done by Wilson & Fripp I have to say are very good and I personally think they sound a bit sonically better overall. I do not find myself really wanting to go back to the original remasters and can quite honestly live with these.
In relation to the 30th Anniversary release, this release comes with 4 bonus tracks instead of just 1. Though labelled on the box and in the booklet it only appears to have 3 bonus tracks. The CD says different and shows 11 tracks and not 10 as stated on the packaging.
Though I would not get to excited because the first 2 bonus tracks are only some of Adrian Belew’s loops and are only a few seconds long. The other 2 bonus tracks are both mixed by Steve Wilson and are “The Sheltering Sky [*][Alternate Mix][Alternate Take]” and “Thela Hun Ginjeet [*][Alternate Mix][Alternate Take]“.
Upon loading the DVD presents with some lovely pixelated animation that forms the knotwork sign and you are then presented with this menu screen. The menu is simple enough to get around and gives you 4 options.
Clicking on the Audio Option presents with the choice of LPCM Stereo and DTS 5.1 Digital Surround. Both of these come with high quality 24/96k formats. Besides these formats they also come with both a stereo and 5.1 surround MLP Lossless format. But to access that option you will have to go into the settings of your DVD or Blu Ray Player and switch it from Bitstream to Multi Channel Analogue.
You will also need an AV Amp or Receiver that has Multi Channel Outposts on the back and need to have the appropriate amount of RCA (Phono) Leads attached and wired up as well.
Both the stereo and 5.1 mixes in this main section only contain the original masters of the 7 tracks on the original album and not the new mixes and the bonus tracks.
The Extras menu features quite an array of them and has you can see from the top of the menu it also comes with the original mix of the album you got with the 30th Anniversary edition. It also contains the alternative version of “Matte Kudasai” which was the only bonus track that came with that release.
The 2nd option on the extras menu which is the BBC Old Grey Whistle Test contains 3 videos but only 2 of them are actually from the Old Grey Whistle Test from back in the days when Ann Nightingale was presenting the program.
The first video is a live version of “Elephant Talk” which was recorded at The Venue in London in October 1981. Both “Frame by Frame” and “Indiscipline” were recorded live at the BBC for the TV programme on the 15th march 1982.
The Rough Mix section contains the recordings of all the albums 7 tracks that date back to the end of May 1981. These recordings were prepared by Rhett Davies before the album went into its final mixing and mastering stages.
It shows how good these tracks were recorded in the first place and no reverb had been applied at this stage either. Apparently the album was that well recorded that the final release had very little done to it in the mastering stage of it, and they only used the mastering for a little bit of pitch correction and nothing more.
The Additional Tracks section contains the 4 bonus tracks that are on the CD plus “The Terrifying Tale of Thela Hun Ginjeet” and a 12 inch Dance Mix USA Promo version of “Elephant Talk“. I have to confess regarding the so called dance mix of “Elephant Talk” there is hardly any difference at all. If anything it’s best not to even talk about it :))))))).
However “The Terrifying Tale of Thela Hun Ginjeet” is certainly interesting and is in 3 parts. The first two parts are discussions from Fripp and Belew and the 3rd part is a a blistering live take of the song from Philadelphia, PA in 1982 and is superb.
There is a fault in this section though in that the only way you can get to hear “The Terrifying Tale of Thela Hun Ginjeet” is by either playing all the tracks in this section or selecting the previous track before it. Because you cannot select it to play it like all the other tracks in this section, and they missed out in placing a marker for it to do so.
The 5.1 Mix.
Both Steve Wilson & Robert Fripp done the 5.1 mixes of the original 7 tracks of the album taken from the original multitrack master tapes. Has with the biggest majority of the 40th Anniversary Editions the 5.1 mixes are terrific and this is precisely what I personally gain by buying albums that have been given the 5.1 treatment when they are done as good as this.
The 5.1 mix alone is worthy of the price your paying for this release alone and presents you with the best version you are basically ever going to hear. The detailed dynamics and the way they have utilised and panned the instrumentation over the 6 channels is quite stunning.
You could have the best pair of headphones in the world but no way on this earth could they produce the sonic dynamics and sound quality you can get that even a mediocre priced set of loudspeakers will cost you. I am sorry to say that stereo simply cannot touch it.
There is no doubt that one can get a complete new buzz from an album when it’s been mixed as good as this, and it will without doubt give you a complete new fresh way of hearing it without having anything added or subtracted from the mix. You will simply hear things that not even a pair of headphones are capable of picking up. This is down to the separation being far greater to produce sound in this way.
For 5.1 freaks like myself this album is simply a gem and you will get 100% satisfaction from buying a release like this all again just for its 5.1 mix. It simply does not disappoint.
Musicians & Credits…
Music by King Crimson, elephantosity by Belew. Produced by King Crimson and Rhett Davies. Cover by Peter Savile. Discipline Knotwork by Steve Ball. Equipment by Graham Davies. Recorded at Basing Street Studios, London. Assistant Engineer Michael Mills. Strategic Management Paddy Spinks.
Robert Fripp: Guitars & Devices.
Adrian Belew: Guitars/Lead Vocals.
Tony Levin: Stick/Bass Guitar/Support Vocals.
Bill Bruford: Drums/Percussion.
The Original Album Tracks Review…
The original album Discipline by King Crimson was released on the 22nd September 1981. It contained 7 tracks over a respectable playing time of 38 minutes 15 seconds. There was no doubt that King Crimson were heading in a new style and direction regarding the material that was written for the album, and even though the material is credited to all 4 of the bands members, I would personally say that the biggest majority of it came from ideas from Adrian Belew.
Belew was very much an effects nut who loves to delve with the latest technology that has been made available for the guitar. Just like Fripp he comes with an array of guitar effects. He originally started out playing the drums and you will even see him quite often play drums and percussion live on stage with this King Crimson line up.
He is also a solo artists in his own rights and had been working on what was to become his first debut album around this time. His debut album Love Rhino got released in the following year but he had spent a good few years working on it, and he loved experimenting with sounds to produce animal noises. Many of which he incorporated into the material with this new line up of King Crimson.
In many ways it was Adrian Belew who created the excitement in this new incarnation of the band, and he was at the forefront of it. He even wrote all the lyrics for the material and it was the first time that the band never involved bringing in a person solely just to write lyrics.
This was a complete new chapter in the history of King Crimson’s music and one that came with a more direct popular approach to it all and a bit of noise thrown in for good measure.
Track 1. Elephant Talk.
The album opens up with my personal favourite track on the album entitled “Elephant Talk“. It’s a track that has Adrian Belew written all over it one would think. But from a writing pointing of view I would also say that Tony Levin had quite an hand in this one too. His bass lines play a major role here and not just Belew’s sound effect he produces on the guitar to make the sound of the elephant. Which incidentally also sound like an electric drill :))))))))))
Belew has a good way of writing lyrics and putting them across, and I have to say I do find his lyrics very interesting and all fitting to the subject matter on all the songs he does. I can see why Fripp felt there was no need to bring in another lyric writer for this incarnation of the band.
Speaking of Fripp who is the bands main guitar player. Both he and Belew work so well together at playing counter melodies around each other, and their parts are very well worked out.
“Elephant Talk” is a really great song and one the band can pull off so well live too. They tend to do it a bit different all the time when on the stage and my all time favourite version of the song can be found on the 1999 Déjà Vrooom live DVD where the both bass players Tony Levin and Trey Gunn play a superb intro to the song together.
Track 2. Frame By Frame.
Another superb well written song that features both Belew and Fripp feeding off each other on the guitar with it’s main melody and counter melody lines. Both Levin and Bruford support it superbly. Levin’s backing vocals also work very well and provide great support to Belew’s lead vocals as on all the tracks.
It’s another great song the band handle live very well on stage, but they quite often omit its intro and play it at a lot slower pace than the blistering pace it is on this studio version. Belew will even tackle the song all by himself on the acoustic guitar too. It’s another top song and contender for the top spot on the album.
Track 3. Matte Kudasai.
Another contender for the best track on the album is “Matte Kudasai” which in Japanese interprets to “please wait”. The song is a most beautiful ballad where you get to see some of the more refined characteristics in Belew’s voice, and as well as his role on the slide guitar which is wonderful, Fripp plays some of his better guitar moments with the rhythm with the chords of the song. Though once again he has added overdubs.
There is no doubt that King Crimson with this line up are back to being a band that makes songs just as they did in reality on their debut album in 1969. and this one is a pure classic.
Track 4. Indiscipline.
Another excellent song that contains lots of diversity, fusion and mayhem all of which could certainly have been found back in the days with what is considered the bands best line up from 1972-1974. Though the biggest majority may say that this is more like a combination of Talking Heads and King Crimson. To be honest I do not care how people look at it, but just like Belew says in the song itself. I would say “I Like It”.
The words to the song was inspired by Belew’s wife back then Margaret and the thing he did like was a sculpture she had made, and not the guitar in his hands you will often see him looking at whist performing the song live. It’s yet another contender for the top spot on the album.
Track 5. Thela Hun Ginjeet.
The last of the songs on the album and one that comes with an anagram of “heat in the jungle” for its title. Musically the song is worked out around Levin’s bass groove and it contains many guitar effects from Belew and Fripp whilst Bruford bashes his way along on the drums. The words were inspired by Belew taking a walk around the corner of the studios in Basing Street in London with a tape recorder looking for some inspiration.
I have to say the story that Belew told the band when he returned back the studio from his experience from that walk around London, certainly sounds to me that he was walking around the Bronx in New York and not London at all :)))))))))))))).
It’s another song the band quite often performed live back then and always omitted the actual spoken words which to me was perhaps the best thing about it all. It seems rather strange hearing it live just with them singing the chorus and it sounds more like an instrumental track for doing it that way.
Track 6. The Sheltering Sky.
The longest track on the album happens to be an instrumental piece and the first of 2 here on this album. According to form it’s title was inspired by a Peter Bowles novel of the same name he wrote in 1949. Bowles was also associated with the beat generation which was also to become the inspiration for the bands next album.
Bill Bruford plays what’s known as a Slit Drum throughout the whole track, effectively it’s a block of wood with slits in it, and the rest of the group weave their magic around. It’s a very well good worked out piece unlike many of King Crimson’s instrumental improvs it’s perhaps got more of worked out structure to it all.
Track 7. Discipline.
The self titled album track is another piece that shows some great diversity and fusion to it. Once again Levin’s bass line plays a dominant role and the band weave some magic along the way.
Its perhaps not the best way to end an album like this off and I do feel that more attention should of been paid to the placement of the tracks on this album too. Putting 2 instrumental tracks at the end does not really work that well, and they should of been spread out more.
The album Discipline by King Crimson for me personally was without doubt a very good album and one that seen as a very good return for a band that had been dormant for 7 years. Considering this was the 80’s and music had changed in a big way, the material we have here is perhaps pointing in a more commercial direction, but yet still contains some of the elements from the old line up. OK the keyboards may have been chucked out of the window but the diversity was still there at this point.
In some respects the band had gone back to doing what they did in the first place back in 1969 and that was making songs instead of doing more instrumental pieces. Just as much as “I Talk To The Wind” was a classic ballad of a song, I would also say that the same could be said for “Matte Kudasai“.
OK it’s not got the same melancholy about it, but we are now in a different decade and this for me is also a very well written song and damn site better than what was in the charts at this point, where most songs were all way too keyboard orientated songs, and personally they never spoke so much as a dickie bird to me.
At this point in the bands career they very much proved they could still write great songs and still make a noise when needed to be. It can only be seen as a fresh new start with this particular line up, and it worked on this album. But the 2 albums that followed it certainly took a nose dive.
To conclude my review of the 40th Anniversary edition of Discipline by King Crimson. I really cannot fault the new mixes on the CD but as with all these new editions the real valuation is with the DVD’s that not only contain the superb 5.1 mixes but also the more high end audio they have put out with all the extras. Effectively the price point is worthy of the DVD alone and even if they did not come with a CD I would still buy them because that is where the real quality lies.
I would very much say in Adrian Belew’s own words “No matter how closely I study it, No matter how I take it apart, No matter how I break it down” and add that this was still a line up that consisted of superb musicians who managed to churn out another really great album. It still contains the same structure and diversity King Crimson have always had, and is certainly not the same music Talking Heads were doing like many suggested just because Adrian Belew happened to be part of it.
There is no doubt King Crimson with its new fresh approach to music was still a force to be reckoned with, and although it’s music was perhaps certainly more accessible and approachable, it was not too commercial at this stage of the game with this album. Though I certainly do feel they had a shot at being more commercial with the album that was to follow it up.
Discipline to me was another solid body of work with the material that was writ for it, and Adrian Belew no doubt played and integral part in making it all happen. I would even go as far as saying, that it was him who added that bit more excitement to the band and no doubt they was all happy with the end result of this album, and even looked more of an happier band live on stage with this new fresh line up.
Only one more thing left to say, and that is…
I Like It…
The CD track listing is as follows:
01. Elephant Talk. 4:43.
02. Frame by Frame. 5:08.
03. Matte Kudasai. 3:47.
04. Indiscipline. 4:34.
05.Thela Hun Ginjeet. 6:25.
06. The Sheltering Sky. 8:22.
07. Discipline. 5:10.
08. A Selection of Adrian’s Vocal Loops [*]. 0:18.
09. A Selection of Adrian’s Vocal Loops [*]. 0:33.
10. The Sheltering Sky [Alternate Mix][*]. 8:26.
11. Thela Hun Ginjeet [Alternate Mix][Alternate Take][*]. 6:31.
One thought on “Lee Speaks About Music… #41”
I am not so familiar with this album, so I just hopped to Youtube and enjoyed some Live-versions of these songs. My favourites are Matte Kudasai and Indiscipline and Thela Hun Ginjeet. I agree with you very much, that the band is driven by the enthusiasm of Adrian Belew. He comes up with most beautiful Slide-work (soundwise almost like a Pedal-Steel as used by Steve Howe), highly energetic rhythm and lead-work on the guitar, which seems to be influenced by the New Wave. I register also a big influence of his former band Talking Heads, the rhythmic approach with african influences and the focus of longer groove-orientated parts (something to dance to). Even the stage-appearance looks a bit like the Talking heads. There are still Progressive Rock elements here, but also a big portion of End-70/80 New Wave. I also admire how Fripp and Belew organise there guitar-parts and the rhythm-backbone Levin and Bruford is not just rock-solid, but highly creative, though I don’t like the Drum-sound so much.
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