Lee Speaks About Music… #42

Beat (40th Anniversary CD/DVD Edition) – King Crimson

KC - Beat


The 9th album Beat by King Crimson makes a bit of history regarding the band itself. It happens to be the first time in any incarnation of the bands members that they are all still present to make a 2nd album. Has a matter of that this line up even went one better and made 3 albums. Never before has this happened with any incarnation of King Crimson.

Though they may have had the same members still, the one thing I can personally say is that they certainly ran out of ideas, and this particular album I very much think is the weakest out of all 3 of them made with this incarnation.

The album Beat if anything is perhaps the bands most commercial album and a lot of the material suffers big style for it. The 80’s were upon us and so to was the video camera. The new in thing in the charts was videos and even though Adrian Belew had ideas for King Crimson to make a good few of them, Robert Fripp on the other hand was watching the pennies.

Fripp did not see the point in spending 50 grand to make one video of one song, when you could make an whole album for 100 grand. Even though with this line up they did manage to make a few of them at a lot cheaper price. Quite personally I think the money was wasted, because they were dreadful :)))))))))).

The 40th Anniversary Edition Release…

The 40th Anniversary Edition of King Crimson’s 9th studio album Beat was released on the 28th October 2016. It was only 34 years old at this stage but Robert Fripp was not hanging around even though this release took 5 years more to surface than the 40th Anniversary of their previous album Discipline. Both 40th Anniversary editions of Beat and Three Of A Perfect Pair were actually released on the same day.

Has with all these 40th Anniversary editions they come with a CD with the new mixes and a DVD with an array of bonus material. Even though most of the material is generally the same thing over and over, my personal incentive is the 5.1 mixes, but you can also find some other goodies and at its price point and they are very good value. Speaking of the price I did order my copy from Amazon and this one once again was a bit more expensive than some of them and cost me £17.61.

The Packaging & Artwork…


Has with all these 40th Anniversary Editions the packaging is done on the cheap side but it’s quite adequate and they come in a box that adds further support to the packaging. It also comes with a booklet and contains information from the King Crimson Diaries. It’s a bit informative but lacks a lot of content regarding the bonus material on the DVD and is worded wrong in parts too.

The artwork is once again based on a symbol and this one happens to be an half time quaver image designed by Rob O’Connor. It’s only really designed because the so called artist decided to draw it to look like a GIF rather than anything of more quality like a JPG that you would find in the computer world. I have to say it just looks bloody dreadful I am afraid :))))))))).

Beat (40th Anniversary CD/DVD) Review…

The 40th Anniversary CD/DVD Edition of Beat by King Crimson comes with a CD that contains the new 2016 mixes of the album mixed by Steve Wilson & Robert Fripp and a DVD with other bonus features including a 5.1 mix and includes some video content. Though I have to say this particular release does not offer an abundance of extras in relation to many of the other releases.

The CD & Bonus Tracks.

The CD comes with the new 2016 mixes mixed by Steve Wilson and Robert Fripp and once again they are very good and have not gone overboard with them. However Fripp did decide to include the extended version of “Requiem” as the 8th track instead of the original version which was only half its length. It also comes with 1 bonus track entitled “Absent Lovers” which is an instrumental track that uses words from the albums opening track “Neal and Jack and Me” though it’s not an instrumental version of it at all.

Apart from the new 2016 mixes and what little bonus material we have here they are the only difference between the 30th Anniversary edition. So no doubt they was struggling for material when they made this album, and they had very little of it.

The DVD.

SS 1

Unlike Discipline the DVD for Beat offers you no fancy pixel animation upon loading and just presents you with its straight forward main menu screen. They all however load with the Global Discipline Logo before hand and some are in 4:3 aspect ratio and some in 16.9. You would think by now they would of done away with the 4:3 aspect ratio ages ago by now.

SS 2

The Audio Setup is set to DTS 5.1 by default. Once again there is a difference between this release and Discipline in that both the 5.1 and stereo audio formats are in 24/48 only and there is no 24/96 to be found anywhere on this release.

There is also another noticeable difference and with this release in that the 5.1 mixes have been done from the 2016 new mixes instead of the original tracks, so they appear to be cutting corners on this release. It features the same tracks on the CD including the bonus track mixed in 5.1.

It’s also worth noting that if you play it n stereo only you also get another 2 bonus tracks which are an alternative take of “Neal and Jack and Me” and a live version of “Absent Lovers” which was recorded live in Oxford. England.

SS 3

The Extras menu contains the original 8 track album which are the remastered tracks for the 30th Anniversary edition that was released back in 2001. The album was only 19 years old at this point :))))))))))). All I can say is that Robert Fripp’s diary must be way out LOL. However it’s great to have the original tracks included for making comparisons and has you have them here, you can also sell your old releases on ebay and get a bit of money back should you wish.

The 2nd choice on the extras menu is supposed to be the Alternative Album. Only the menu is wrong and so too is the description in the booklet. Instead it contains the rough mixes of the original album. These recordings were prepared by Rhett Davies before the album went into its final mixing and mastering stages.

The final selection contains the videos and here we have 3 of them. The promotional video of the studio version of “Heartbeat” to which I always found quite boring to be honest. But the live versions of “Waiting Man” and “Heartbeat” are the best things in this section by far.

The 5.1 Mix.

Has a rule I much prefer the 5.1 mixes to done from the original tracks and not the new remixes. However the fact that the new mixes are very good will certainly not be getting any real complaints from myself.

The 5.1 mix is very satisfying has with practically everyone in these 40th Anniversary editions and once again Steve Wilson and Robert Fripp have done with the bees knees with them. This is the thing why I buy these releases again and no doubt the cost of them is well worthy of the price point for the 5.1 mix alone.

Musicians & Credits…

Original album produced by Rhett Davies. Cover design by Rob O’Connor. Equipment by Graham Davies. Recorded at Basing Street Studios, London. Social Services Tex Reed. Strategic Management Paddy Spinks.

Robert Fripp: Guitar/Organ/Frippertronics.
Adrian Belew: Guitars/Lead Vocals/Additional Drums (track3).
Tony Levin: Bass Guitar/Chapman Stick/Backing Vocals.
Bill Bruford: Drums/Percussion.

The Original Album Tracks Review…

The original album Beat by King Crimson was released on the 18th June 1982. The album itself contained 8 tracks spread over a playing time of 35 minutes 19 seconds. Out of the 8 tracks only two of them were instrumentals and just like the previous album Discipline it does appear that this line up is more focused on songs more than anything else, though I do feel they missed the mark in writing anything that was gonna really stand out and make a mark on this album in particular.

According to form a lot of the inspiration for the album Beat came from a book entitled “On The Road” written by Jack Kerouac. The book itself is based around living life in the post war beat generation taking in the subject matter of living life against the backdrop of jazz, poetry and drug use.

The albums title of Beat is not based around a real form of music as in the beating of a drum or a rhythmical style of music that has a beat to it sort of thing, and it’s widely used here in the titles of the songs and the lyrical subject matter of the songs. Some of which even include the author himself in the songs such as the opening track on the album for example.

The fact that the word “Jazz” was also mentioned in the subject matter bears very little relation to this album at all. But of course the band King Crimson have always tried to incorporate some fusion of jazz into their music one way or the other, I would say that on this occasion that they was a long way off the mark, and for me personally I very much would say that the album Beat is perhaps the first time the band ever really tried to make a pop album.

Track 1. Neal and Jack and Me.

The opening track without a doubt is the strongest well written song on the whole of the album. Both Belew and Fripp weave their way along on the guitars in and out of time signatures of 5/4 and 7/8 and is very much more like the kind of material we got with the bands previous album Discipline.

It’s a very well structured song were all of the band play integral parts throughout it. The lyrics are references to the novelist Jack Kerouac and his best friend Neal Cassady who also played a character part along with Kerouac in the book “On The Road“.

The first time I ever brought this album back in the 2000’s I brought it on the strength of hearing this song alone and never heard anything else on the album before purchasing it. This track wins the top spot award on the album and is my personal favourite.

Track 2. Heartbeat.

The best pop song on the album is perhaps the only way I can describe this one, and yes this is where King Crimson really became commercial and tried to make pop records :)))))). “Heartbeat” was released as a single and they even made a video to accompany it. The song is not bad to be honest but the video I have to say was just dreadful.

I would also say that a lot of fans who were into King Crimson’s earlier material back in the 70’s would be thinking what the hell is going on here :))))) I very much said the same thing when I first heard it, it became a bit of a shock :))))))))). But a lot of those great bands from the 70’s were all at it to be honest in the 80’s and King Crimson were no exception at all to having a go at it.

Track 3. Sartori in Tangier.

The first of the 2 instrumental pieces on the album sees the band having a pop in their more diverse style. The title of the track is derived from Satori in Paris and the city of Tangier in Morocco and has that flavour and the style in the music the band are putting across here. It’s a great little number and very well worked out piece of music.

Track 4. Waiting Man.

Even though the band are trying to be more diverse on this song the “Waiting Man” is perhaps a song that does not hold up very well in the way it’s been constructed. To be honest they have done it differently live which speaks a damn site better than this studio version. But overall the the band have very little to say with this one I am afraid.

Track 5. Neurotica.

A great song that starts off with an intro that has been lifted from a track entitled “Hååden Two” written by Robert Fripp and featured on his 1979 solo album Exposure. After the rather nice intro the song launches into chaotic mode and Adrian Belew has quite a mouthful of words to contend with that he wrote for this song that is well fitting with the subject matter and the songs title.

Musically there is plenty going on here along the mayhem of it all, and the song has great diversity and chord progression along its path. It’s not quite on par with the material we seen on their previous album Discipline but it is heading more to that direction in some terms.

Track 6. Two Hands.

A late night song for romantics perhaps that contains lyrics penned by Belew’s wife back then Margaret. It’s a nice enough ballad of a song but perhaps the sort of thing you would find on a Lionel Ritchie album rather than one by King Crimson.

Track 7. The Howler.

Another one of those songs that does not really have a lot to say about even if the band musically try their best to inject some sort of mad fusion into it. Fripp suggested a beat poem entitled the “Howl” written by Allen Ginsberg to Belew as an inspiration for the lyrics.

The 15/8 guitar riff that Belew played half way through it is also likened to the same riff he played to the Tom Tom Club single “Genius Of Love” which just goes to show the band were lacking ideas coming up with material for this album.

Track 8. Requiem.

The album gets put to bed with the last of the 2 instrumental tracks and the longest track on the album that runs for 6 minutes 48 seconds entitled “Requiem“. I have to say it’s just totally boring and so familiar with the solo material Fripp does with his soundscapes.

The extended version that comes with this release is actually 12 minutes and 15 seconds as if the original version was not boring enough, you now have to now even suffer more of it :)))))). In all honesty its just a load of verbal diarrhoea and a complete waste of space and that is putting it mildly I am sorry to say.


To sum up my review of the 40th Anniversary edition of the album Beat by King Crimson. I would say it has very little to offer you regarding the bonus material your getting here. Both the new mixes and the 5.1 mixes are very good but its perhaps more of an album for collectors and certainly one I would not personally recommend, simply because the band lacked a lot of ideas and there is very little in the way of any good written material upon it.

For me personally I have always considered the albums Beat and Islands the worst albums King Crimson ever made. But that is precisely how they speak and come across to me. For those who may have got into King Crimson by hearing and buying the album Beat first back in the 80’s. This album may speak to them more and they may like it a damn site more than myself on that score.

For me the highlights of the album are “Neal and Jack and Me“. “Sartori in Tangier” and “Neurotica“. It’s not entirely a pop album but the nearest thing they ever did to making one I personally feel.


To conclude my review here I would just like to  say that there is no doubt this incarnation of King Crimson with a doubt are excellent musicians and they made a promising start with their previous album Discipline. But being an excellent musician means nothing unless you have the material to back yourself up, and this is where the band unfortunately let themselves down with the album Beat.

But hey just how many bands and artists in this world have churned out a winner all the time. Very few I would say and many have put out albums just as bad as this one that’s for sure.

There is no doubt that band were struggling to come up with enough decent material for this album, and in all honesty it would of been better for them to wait till they had enough so they could pick and choose the best from it, and not just bung an half decent album like this on the market just to try and make a quick buck.

Has for myself. I am just the mug who went out and brought it again :))))))))). But I do love these 40th Anniversary editions for the 5.1 mixes and the quality you do get with the DVD and I am still glad I brought it. Though Like I stated earlier. It’s not an album I would recommend at all.

Strange Spaghetti In This Solemn City…

The CD track listing is as follows:

01. Neal and Jack and Me. 4:24.
02. Heartbeat. 3:51.
03. Sartori in Tangier. 3:35.
04. Waiting Man. 4:27.
05. Neurotica. 4:49.
06. Two Hands. 3:22.
07. The Howler. 4:13.
08. Requiem. 12:15.
09. Absent Lovers # (instrumental, bonus track). 4:11.

Lee’s overall Complete Package Value Rating…

The Packaging Rating Score. 7/10

The Bonus Tracks Rating Score. 5/10

The 5.1 Mix Rating Score. 10/10.

The Original Album Rating Score. 4/10.

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