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Robert Fripp: guitar & mellotron
John Wetton: bass & voice
William Bruford: Percussives
By the time King Crimson entered the studio in July 74, the band had spent the best part of two years on the road, recorded two albums along the way ('Larks' Tongues In Aspic' & 'Starless & Bible Black'), & shed two band members en route (percussionist Jamie Muir left for a monastery, violin/mellotron player David Cross had left at the end of the US tour a week earlier. They had also built a reputation as one of the tightest, most powerful bands on the rock circuit. Recording as a trio in Olympic studios in London, with contributions from former members & friends on sax, violin, oboe & clarinet, the group produced the last Crimson studio album of the 70s & one of the decade's masterpieces - Red.
Red emerged as a distillation of everything Crimson had been working towards live & in the studio between 72 and 74. In the thirty years since its release, Red has built an enviable, enduring reputation among fans & professional musicians alike - with bands from each succeeding decade citing it as an important influence. Vernon Reid (of Living Colour) has spoken of being 'amazed' at the power of this band live, Butch Vig reputedly played it to Nirvana as the ideal rock trio sound/template prior to the recording of 'Nevermind', bass maestro Billy Sheehan regards it as one of the all time great recordings, while Primus' Les Claypool huge & the members of Tool - with whom a more recent lineup of Crimson toured in 2002 - are also firm enthusiasts of the album.
As with so many key records of the era, it is only in recent years that the album's real significance has become apparent. As younger generations of fans discover the band - whether directly or via some of the musicians mentioned above referring to it - the album has become one of Crimson?s most successful. It also routinely emerges as the favourite studio album for many long term fans of the band - no mean feat with such a rich & varied recording history to choose from.
As the album has had such an influence on so many, it is appropriate to leave the final word to a musician. The quote - part of a longer eulogy to Crimson & Fripp - comes from Steve's online diary & was written during the recent G3 tour featuring Steve Vai, Joe Satriani & Robert.
'It's impossible to quantify the effect that this band has had on contemporary musicians' - Steve Vai, July 2004
2. Fallen Angel
3. One More Red Nightmare