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Robert Fripp: Electric Guitar
Mel Collins: Alto, Tenor & Baritone Saxes, Mellotron
Boz: Bass Guitar & Vocals
Ian Wallace: Drums
Originally issued as a mid-price album in June 1972, Earthbound consists of highlights from Crimson's US tour from January to March of that year recorded on stereo cassette. Rejected for release by their American record company at the time, (due to poor sound quality) Earthbound was the first 'official bootleg' issued by a major rock group. It must have come as something of a shock for fans of their meticulous studio output to hear such a raw, aggressive sounding band - such rawness would not find favour until the punk explosion of 1976/77. The stark nature of the album, signposted by the cover and carried through to the recording itself in all its audio verite glory, provided some essential clues as to what made Crimson such a vital live attraction on the circuit of the time. One track each from the band's 1st & 4th albums, a single b side and two lengthy improvisations showed that the studio recordings were merely points of departure for the live band. With large chunks of the sound additionally fed and sometimes distorted through a VCS3 synthesizer, 21st Century Schizoid Man had never sounded more manic, while the much extended Groon managed to incorporate the original tune, an improvised section complete with solos followed by some more VCS3 wildness before finally closing with one of Fripp's most eloquent short guitar solos.
By the time of release, the lineup had already disbanded - not an unusual occurrence for King Crimson. Fripp had returned to England at the end of the tour to select the material for the album and plan the next incarnation of the band, while the remaining members stayed in the US where they joined with blues man Alexis Korner.
Much maligned and misunderstood when originally released, the album has stood the test of time rather well. Fripp was willing to challenge the expectations of live audiences and record buyers - not for the first or last time. Crimson was always like an untamed beast - especially in its live incarnations. Earthbound serves as an aural snapshot in time of some of those wild moments.
1. 21st Century Schizoid Man
3. The Sailor's Tale