The Power To Believe (40th Anniversary Edition) – King Crimson
King Crimson’s 13th and final studio album The Power To Believe finally gets the 5.1 treatment with the release of the 40th Anniversary CD/DVD Edition and this is something I was well pleased to get hold of and for me personally it’s an album that has always been up there with my favourite albums by the band. I think the very thing that made this album come out that much better than its predecessor The ConstruKction Of Light is down to the same line up of the band going out on tour with the the progressive metal band Tool in 2001 at first. Much of the material that winded up on the album had been played live beforehand and even appeared on a few other releases before the album was eventually launched. Although that was not unusual and they had done things like that before they released the album THRAK back in 1995.
The other thing that helped the album come out so well is that they decided to record the album in a studio rather than at Adrian Belew’s home studio and that was most likely down to Robert Fripp not being happy with how The ConstruKction Of Light came out. Though some parts were recorded at Belew’s studio and Mastelotto’s garage and even a church of all places. They also brought in the producer Gene Freeman known more professionally as the Machine. He was also known for his work in remixing and utilising the vocabulary of Hip Hop, Metal and Industrial dance rock. Though it was Pat Mastelotto’s idea to bring him in even though he may not have seemed the obvious choice for Belew and Fripp to go along with. It was also only the fourth time that King Crimson had embarked on working with an external producer.
Unlike the trouble they had in locating the master tapes to be able to do a 5.1 mix of The ConstruKction Of Light they had no problem with this album. But the other thing they never did with this particular album is do new stereo mixes like they did with many of the albums. However, it has been enhanced and they are now calling this the new master. It’s all crazy really and it’s just had a new production master by Fripp & Singleton and the only new mix it has had is the 5.1 mix which was once again done by David Singleton. They are also calling this new release an Expanded Edition because they have added 3 extra bonus tracks to the album which were remastered by Singleton too. It also comes with a really good couple of other bonus features on the DVD. But before I go any further let’s take a look at the albums packaging and artwork as usual.
The Packaging & Artwork…
Like all the 40th Anniversary King Crimson Editions they come in a 2-panel cardboard Digipak housed in a cardboard slipcase. The both discs are supported by plastic trays that hold the disc firmly in place and it also comes with a booklet. They are quality packages and my only real gripe is that it would have been better if the booklet was fixed inside rather than it being loose, or they could of used a 3 panel DigiPak so it had a pocket to store the booklet. Still at this price you cannot really complain.
The 14-page booklet contains all the linear production notes, glossary pictures and a few pages of an essay written by Sid Smith telling you about the time the album was made and a few other things. It does not go into great detail but is suffice enough and it does not come with the lyrics either for some reason. Overall it is a very good quality package.
Once again, the artwork comes from a painting by the English painter and sculpture Pamela June Crook known professionally as P J Crook and once again the artwork is STUNNING! Her paintings have featured on many of King Crimson’s albums and they have been using her artwork consistently since 1997. The Packaging Art & Design was done by Hugh O’ Donnell and the photography was done by Michael Wilson, Bill Munyon, Trey Gunn & Paul Brown.
The Power To Believe Release Editions.
The 40th Anniversary Edition of The Power To Believe was included in the Heaven And Earth Box Set that comprises of 24 Discs. 18 CD’s. 4 Blu Rays and 2 DVD’s and includes The ReconstruKction Of Light to which they have also used the artwork to that album for the box sets front cover and the other 2 individual packages you can purchase for less. The Box Set is the same size of a vinyl album and it also comes with posters and other memorabilia and can be purchased for around £130 or less.
From what I can gather by looking at some of the unboxing videos on YouTube all the discs in the box set come in 3 panel cardboard DigiPaks without the plastic trays to hold the discs in place and they are merely slotted into the side pockets of the Digipak. The artwork on all the discs features the individual band members instead of the original artwork that was on the original albums and the other 2 individual packages in the 40th Anniversary series. Strangely enough the Heaven And Earth Box Set does have the 50th Anniversary stamped on it and I guess they are going by the fact that this year is the bands 50th Anniversary.
It’s a neat package and I am sure it’s a GREAT! collector’s item for their fans but way out of my personal budget of what I would spend myself. But I am glad that King Crimson do not force you to buy the box set to get your hands on the 5.1 mixes like other artists do and for me that’s a Godsend so I can at least get my hands on what I personally want.
Thanks to a comment left by MK on my review of The ReconstruKction Of Light who informed me that there is a slight fault with some of the discs that are in the Heaven And Earth Box Set and it effects some of the bonus material by playing them at a slightly faster speed. It’s very hard to detect the fault and to be honest I cannot hear any difference at all on the CD/DVD package I brought. It does mainly affect the bonus material on the Blu Rays in the box set and not so much the DVD. You can read all about it here: https://www.dgmlive.com/news/Heaven_and_earth
The Power To Believe 40th Anniversary CD/DVD Edition was released on the 31st May 2019 alongside with the 40th Anniversary CD/DVD Edition of The ReconstruKction Of Light on the same day. These are the cheapest of the packages and can be purchased for around £14 or less. Both the Double LP Vinyl Editions of these albums will be released at the end of this month on the 27th September and have been pressed onto 200 gram vinyl and will be priced around £26 or less.
The Power To Believe In Review…
King Crimson’s 13th album The Power To Believe was originally released on the 4th March 2003. The album contained 11 tracks spread over an overall playing time of 51 minutes, 11 seconds. The new expanded edition comes with 3 extra instrumental bonus tracks making a total of 14 tracks and has an overall playing time of 64 minutes, 29 seconds. The album was destined to be called Nuovo Metal which is a term Robert Fripp used to describe the sound of the music they were playing; he had heard the term Nu Metal used to describe the music of metal bands like Korn and Incubus and so on which gave him the idea. Although the albums title The Power To Believe came from an haiku that Adrian Belew had lifted from his own work and he even used the words from one of his own songs “All Her Love Is Mine” from his Op Zop Too Wah album he released back in 1996.
Most of the recording and mixing for the album was done at the Tracking Room studios in Nashville in America. The studio was built in 1995 by the famed architect Tom Hidley. It’s also the largest studio in Nashville and the 6,500 sq. ft. space was designed for impeccable sound quality. Each room features unique characteristics, plus doors designed by NASA to eliminate sound leakage. One of the rooms has a reverb chamber called the “Stone Room” that is frequently used for percussion.
The Tracking Room
Many top artists have recorded their albums at The Tracking Room including Taylor Swift, The Beach Boys, U2, Lynyrd Skynyrd, Roy Orbison, Mark Knopfler, Megadeath and many more. It’s even recorded the highest selling country music album of all time. Fripp and Belew asked Gunn and Mastelotto to come up with a shortlist of studios whilst they were in Nashville. The Tracking Room in Nashville was Gunn and Mastelotto’s favourite from the four or five they presented. They never thought for one minute that Fripp would go for it especially has it cost $3,000 a day to record there.
Practically all of the material for The Power To Believe the band had played live at various venues during the years 2001 & 2002. The soundscape that was used for the final track on the album “The Power to Believe IV: Coda” was even recorded by The Vicar in a church in Cornwall, England way back in 1997. The Vicar is the persona name used by David Singleton and the name often cropped up on many King Crimson albums and ProjeKcts since 2001. The original idea came out of a conversation between him and Robert Fripp back in 1999 and from 2001 – 2013 his identity remained pretty much a secret to keep people guessing who it was.
Both Fripp and Singleton have been close friends for years and they are both joint owners of Global Discipline Mobile which is an independent label and record company they both set up in 1982 to stop them being ripped off for the copyrights of their own music. The name was derived from King Crimson’s 1981 album Discipline and from the name of Singleton’s previous recording business (The Mobile). It was also set up to help other artists record their albums on the label though today it’s mainly used for artists who are associated with King Crimson and many other musicians from that band have used it in the past too. David Singleton even records his own music on the label under the name of The Vicar.
As with all these CD/DVD Editions you get a lot more bonus material on the DVD. The CD contains the Expanded version of the album to which the 3 bonus tracks “Sus-tayn-Z I” “Superslow” and “Sus-tayn-Z II” that came from the sessions have been included. I think they are pretty decent enough bonus tracks though they do not really match up with the rest of the material on the album to really make this an Expanded version of the album. So, let’s now take a look at what’s one the DVD.
Just like we seen on the DVD that came with The ReconstruKction Of Light there is none of P J Crook’s superb artwork to be seen and all we get on all the menu screens is basically the text. Claire Bidwell was responsible for the Design & Layout of the DVD and in all honesty, she is a complete amateur and should not be let loose on such a job. This really is a poor presentation and it’s only the final 2 King Crimson albums in the 40th Anniversary series that have been presented this poor way. Thankfully the music does make things up for her incompetence.
The main menu (as seen above) gives you 5 options the first 2 give you the choice of listening to the main feature in either stereo or 5.1 surround sound both have been recorded with a high-end resolution of 24 bits 48khz. It’s also worth noting that both the stereo and 5.1 mixes do also come with an MLP Lossless track too and you do not just have the choice of DTS for the 5.1 surround and PCM for the stereo mix. But you will need a DVD player that plays DVD A (Audio) discs to get the MLP format. By clicking on your choice, it presents you with the following screen.
The main feature also includes the 3 extra bonus tracks and it’s nice they have also been given a 5.1 mix. From this screen you can simply make your choice to ether select a track or play the whole album by clicking on the tracks. When this screen opens up it does not automatically play the album and you have to click on the 1st track to do that. The DVD also contains the original stereo mix of the album without the bonus tracks and comes with the choice of 24/48 PCM & MLP Lossless audio formats.
A couple of EP’s are also included here on the DVD and the first one is Happy With What You Have To Be Happy With which was originally released in the year before the album was released and this was released on the 8th October 2002. As you can see from the track listing above it contains a couple of the tracks that made their way onto The Power To Believe album. Though they are different and the first of them “Happy With What You Have To Be Happy” is only slightly different in that its longer by one chorus. “Eyes Wide Open” on the other hand is an acoustic version.
Happy With What You Have To Be Happy is an excellent EP or more of a mini album with how it contains 10 tracks over an overall playing time of 34 minutes, 34 seconds. The EP contained unreleased studio and live material at the time of its release. The 11th track “Einstein’s Relatives” was a hidden bonus track on the original EP. It comes with the original stereo mix and an audio format of 24/48 PCM.
The final piece of the bonus material is the EP Level Five well it’s more like an album rather than an EP and contains 6 tracks over some 45 minutes to which the 6th track “Improv: ProjeKct 12th and X” was secret hidden bonus track. The EP was originally released back in 2001 and contains various live performances during the Summer 2001 tour in the USA and Mexico and was released to give an insight or a glimpse into what the material would be like on their next album The Power To Believe in particular with the opening couple of tracks that did wind up on the album only in a studio form.
It also featured a live version of the self–titled track from their previous album and other material from the ProjeKcts series. This is another superb bonus feature to have and comes with the original stereo mix and an audio format of 24/48 PCM. The bonus material really is an extra bonus you are getting and well worthy of having. Now let’s have a look at the 5.1 mix.
The 5.1 Mix.
The 5.1 mix is pretty much AWESOME! and this is an album that does benefit and is more suited for a 5.1 mix and David Singleton as done a TOP DRAW! job of it I will say. To be honest I have always admired Singleton’s work as much as Steve Wilson’s when it comes to 5.1 mixes and both are capable of doing some pretty amazing work on them. There is a lot more width over the stereo mix and he has very well placed the instrumentation over the 6 channels very well making it quite an exciting and more pleasurable mix.
The percussion and effects that both Mastelotto and Belew play in particular have been very well placed and you can hear things behind you, over the top of your head and they have been utilised very well with their placement along with the guitars and bass and a mix like this puts you right in the frame and the picture of things. It really is DELICIOUS! and brings out all the dynamics and the clarity from all the instrumentation and he gets 10 out of 10 for this mix.
Musicians & Credits…
Music by King Crimson. Words by Adrian Belew. Produced & Mixed by King Crimson & Machine. Recorded & Engineered by Machine at The Tracking Room. Studio Belew and Pat’s Garage. Mixed & remixed by Machine at The Tracking Room, Nashville Tennessee and The Shop, Hoboken New Jersey. Additional Engineering by Jeff Juliano. Additional Programming by Machine. Haiku voice recorded at Studio Belew. Voice Source on Elekrik: Tim Faulkner. Track 11 produced by The Vicar & Robert Fripp, Soundscape recorded live in performance at Newlyn Church, Cornwall England on December 7th 1997. Cover Artwork from a painting by P J Crook. Photography by Michael Wilson, Bill Munyon, Trey Gunn & Paul Brown. Packaging Art & Design by Hugh O’ Donnell. DVD Design & Layout by Claire Bidwell. DVD Authoring & Assembling by Neil Wilkes.
Robert Fripp: Guitar.
Adrian Belew: Guitar & Vocals.
Trey Gunn: Warr Guitar.
Pat Mastelotto: Traps and Buttons.
The Album Tracks In Review…
The Power To Believe is very much an album that has a reoccurring theme with its 4 parts in much of the same way with how “Peace” worked on their 2nd album In The Wake Of Poseidon. In some respects, with how it has a softer subtle approach with how Belew’s voice is presenting the title tracks words via a vocoder and how it can at times use soundscapes in a subtle way. It’s like a more modern approach to that melancholic tranquil side of things that “Peace” presented us with on that much earlier album. But it’s also is an album that has the power and force we seen on albums like Lark’s Tongues In Aspic and Red and even reflects back to those albums too and still has the industrial side of things of their previous album The ConstruKction Of Light.
The major difference between this album and their previous album is down to the fact that it uses more soundscapes and much of the albums material is worked around them too. For me personally The Power To Believe is much more of a solid album and where it wins over their previous album is down to the fact that the band spent more time playing live improvisations beforehand to develop the material more for the album. The material here is much stronger both musically and lyrically. So, let’s now take a look at the albums tracks.
Track 1. The Power To Believe I: A Cappella.
The first of the 4-part suite that features throughout the album is merely a short introduction by an unaccompanied Adrian Belew presenting the words from one of his own solo songs “All Her Love Is Mine” and delivering them differently via the use of a vocoder. The same words feature in all four parts and all four parts may give the impression that The Power To Believe is some form of a concept album. Musically with how some of the tracks link to one another and how the album flows along it can also feel like there is a concept thingy going on, though there is not and and some of the other vocal tracks on the album go down other avenues.
Track 2. Level Five.
The first of the instrumental pieces on the album follows Belew’s brief introduction and this is where the albums kicks off and unleashes its power and force upon you. This piece reflects much of the power we seen on the 1981 album Discipline and contains some excellent interplay between Fripp and Belew and even Gunn gets into the action too whilst Mastelotto’s electric drum kit injects an industrial like groove to it all. It’s a very well worked out structured piece and is in fact the final part of the Lark’s Tongue In Aspic series and even though it’s titled as “Level Five” it is in fact “Larks’ Tongues In Aspic Pt.5” and you can certainly hear how it’s been developed around that same structure of “Larks’ Tongues In Aspic Pt.2” which was done back in 1973.
Fripp originally intended for “FraKctured” to be the final part that was on the previous album The ConstruKction Of Light, but seeing how it bore closer resemblance to “Fracture” from 1974’s Starless and Bible Black, he changed the name. Though nothing in the original album’s packaging confirmed that it was part of “Larks’ Tongues in Aspic” series the official confirmation appeared in the Elements 2017 box set, where it was included in sequence with the rest of the suite and called “Truly LTIA Pt V in all but name”. Fripp also confirmed that “Level Five” was indeed the fifth entry in the suite and had been renamed as such on 2018 setlists.
Personally, I think this is better than parts 3 & 4 and is better developed and worked out and has more going on for it. It really is a GREAT! track and one of the contenders for the albums TOP SPOT!
Track 3. Eyes Wide Open.
The first of the vocal tracks on the album and what a truly GREAT! song this one is too. “Eyes Wide Open” if anything sees Belew back on form and at the top of his game. Personally, I think regarding the vocal tracks and the quality of them, that is what was missing more so on The ConstruKction Of Light album and this is more up there with “Matte Kudasai” from the Discipline album. It’s a very well written ballad of a song and easy to see why they used the title for their concert tour to promote and support the album, and why they also chose it for the title of DVD they released in the same year of the album.
The Eyes Wide Open DVD is an excellent purchase and contains 2 DVD’s. The first of which captures the band live in Tokyo, Kouseinenkin Kaikan, on the April 16, 2003. The 2nd disc captures them live at the Shepherds Bush Empire, London, on July 3, 2000 whilst they were on tour of The ConstruKction Of Light album. The DVD is also included in the Heaven And Earth box set although the original DVD release is still widely available and can be had for around £10 – £14 at most stores. It’s a DVD that has given me tremendous pleasure since I purchased it back in 2003 and David Singleton done an excellent job with both the 5.1 and Dolby Prologic mixes.
Lyrically the song pertains to not missing a thing and being aware of certain situations and opportunities that may arise, it could even be seen as a case of don’t let your chance go by sort of thing. The bright tonality and melodic rhythm lines from the guitars are really BEAUTIFUL! But even more interesting is how Mastelotto’s drums work in the piece and the bass sound of them is very much like a djembe knocking out a sort of African Jungle vibe pattern at first and I love how the drum kit really opens up more in the lead break. “Eyes Wide Open” is my personal favourite song on the album and I could easily pick two or three favourites on this album that would merit the albums TOP SPOT AWARD! and this is very much one of the three.
Track 4. Elektrik.
Another of the instrumental pieces on the album and a very strong contender for the albums TOP SPOT AWARD! “Elektrik” is the longest track on the album and weighs in at 8 minutes. It’s a bit like “Elephant Talk” from the 1981 Discipline album in the way that is has an intro and outro and its main part meanders and weaves its way along a bit like Larks’ only at a more slower pace to which allows much more of the melodic lines to shine through. Trey Gunn uses more distortion on his Warr Guitar and it gives it a rattling effect and adds more power to more melodic lines coming from the guitars. It really is a GREAT! track and the voices you can hear in the background were lifted from samples of the American poet T. S. Eliot reciting his famous poem “The Waste Land” he wrote back in 1922 whilst he was living over here in England.
Track 5 & 6. Facts Of Life (Including Intro).
The band rev and rock things up a bit more with this next song and I am pretty sure Belew even gets the Black & Decker Drill out on his guitar for this one too :))))). The intro is a soundscape that very much sounds like they are portraying a desolate wasteland and Eliot’s poem may have inspired them to do this intro. The drums then come into play along with 6 billion Ants and it all kicks off very well indeed. The lyrics are fairly straight forward and are perhaps pertaining to right and wrong in how we choose to go about things. For example, “doesn’t mean you should just because you can” could be seen as a choice in how we go about things such as war and they are all facts of life.
“The Facts Of Life” is a very powerful song were even Mastelotto’s drum kit adds to the distortion and mayhem here and it’s as if the guys are crunching on metal and they really are GRINDING! it out in a very good way.
Track 7. The Power To Believe II: Power Circle.
The 2nd part of the 4-piece suite features Belew on guitar synth playing a touch of the east and this is one of those pieces that he also helps out in the percussion department alongside Mastelotto and it features some fine Gamelan vibes. Although it’s classed as a vocal track there is very little words in it and it apart from the words Belew recited in the 1st part and it is mostly instrumental. The piece is also structured around Fripp’s soundscape on the guitar. Much of the Gamelan parts give the piece more of an oriental flavour and even though the 2nd part is titled “Power Circle” there is less energy utilised and it brings the album down a few notches from its previous more powerful track.
Part 2 of the suite I personally think is much better to see played live the will even say more to you than how it presents itself to you on this studio version. It is more of a meandering chillout track and works very well in simmering the album down a bit more from its boiling point here though. I would even say that the second part of the suite is the best of all the 4 parts that make it up.
Track 8. Dangerous Curves.
The instrumental track “Dangerous Curves” is a very well built up and powerful piece and is very cinematic and built up initially from a Fripp soundscape that gradually builds itself up and up. It’s quite intense and would suit a good haunting thriller and I quite like the live version on the Level Five EP too. The piece also harks back to the first part “Merday Morn” from “The Devil’s Triangle” from their 2nd album In the Wake of Poseidon though I personally think this track is better and is another contender for the albums TOP SPOT!
Track 9. Happy With What You Have To Be Happy With.
It’s time to ROCK! things back up again and this is quite a powerful bit of distorted blues rock and is a song about writing a song. Belew as the knack of using repetitive words and repeating them and these can be quite tongue twisting lyrics, considering the lyrics are minimalistic it’s quite clever and the song has a refrain as well as a chorus. It’s another really GREAT! song and has quite an effective little lead break with Belew doing his normal thing and attacking the strings on his guitar :))))).
Track 10. The Power to Believe III: Deception Of The Thrush.
The 3rd part of the suite incorporates a small part of “Deception Of The Thrush” a piece that should of really made the album and was left off due to the fact that they could not get the permission to include T. S. Eliot’s voice reciting the words or so it states in the booklet. It does seem a bit strange how it was allowed on “Elektrik“. At most of the live shows it quite often followed the 3rd part of the suite too and they did record a version of it to do the same on this album, though without the permission they had to end the album off with another of Fripp’s soundscapes instead.
Belew utters a few words through the vocoder on the intro and the first part slowly builds up with heavy percussion and Fripp’s guitar and as it goes along the bass and drums play more of a part and it all winds down at the end to allow the final part of the suite to come in and end the album off.
Track 11. The Power to Believe IV: Coda.
The final part of the suite brings a very smooth ending to the album and features Fripp playing one of his soundscapes with Belew once again repeating the words from the intro through a vocoder. The soundscape Fripp is playing he recorded at St. Peters Church Newlyn Cornwall back in December 1997 and it fitted on here very well to ut an end to quite a very good album.
To sum up The Power To Believe by King Crimson. I would say it’s a very good album and one were some tracks stick out more than others although the rest of the material very well fits and sits in with them all. I personally could not fault any of the tracks that make up the album and as an album it works extremely well. It’s not the best King Crimson album but I do feel it’s up there with some of the best output the band have put out throughout their musical career. Just like some of the tracks on The ConstruKction Of Light they were better performed live although on this album most of the material is much stronger and holds up very well even in a studio form.
You get quite a good deal for the money with this 40th Anniversary edition and the addition of the both EP’s Level Five and Happy With What You Have To Be Happy are really worth having if you never already had them. Although it’s the 5.1 mix that is what my money is on and it does not disappoint one bit and it really is an exciting mix that David Singleton has done here and very worthy of the 10 out of 10 I gave it. The 3 bonus tracks on the CD I can take with a pinch of salt and they are OK but not on par with the rest of the material on the album and they do not really do a lot to extend the album.
My personal highlights from the album are as follows: “Level Five“. “Eyes Wide Open“. “Elektrik“. “Dangerous Curves” and “The Power To Believe II: Power Circle“. Though I will say the latter of that lot I do prefer live.
King Crimson’s final studio album The Power To Believe is quite a solid body of work with the material that eventually made the album, in many ways it has the some of the finer ingredients that we see on the 1981 album Discipline and the vocal tracks in particular are quite strong and very well written. It was not long after that Tony Levin did return back to the fold in 2004. However, it was a short-lived interim line-up and the band stayed on hiatus till 2008.
Since then the band have been going out with other various musicians joining the line-up every now and then and have been playing live shows all over the world and shown no real interest in making another studio album. They still continue to churn out box sets and live recordings of every venue they play at practically and are still continuing to do so. For some the number 13 might be an unlucky number. But in this case, I rather think their 13th album turned out very well and it was not as if they went out at a low point of their career and it’s a damn site better than some of their earlier albums too.
The 40th Anniversary CD/DVD Edition offers tremendous value for the buck and is well worthy of buying all over again especially for surround freaks like myself.
Because You Never Know What You Might See…
The CD track listing is as follows:
01. The Power To Believe I: A Cappella. 0:44.
02. Level Five. 7:15.
03. Eyes Wide Open. 4:10.
04. Elektrik. 8:00.
05. Facts Of Life: Intro. 1:38.
06. Facts Of Life. 5:05.
07. The Power To Believe II: Power Circle. 7:43.
08. Dangerous Curves. 6:42.
09. Happy With What You Have To Be Happy With. 3:17.
10. The Power To Believe III: Deception Of The Thrush. 4:10.
11. The Power To Believe IV: Coda. 2:51.
12. Sus-tayn-Z I. 5:00.
13. Superslow. 3:38.
14. Sus-tayn-Z II. 4:16.