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Favorite King Crimson Ballads

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    Favorite King Crimson Ballads

    Crimson is well known for those frantic, knotty, heavy, intense, angular moments. But almost every King Crimson album has a song or two of serene beauty, and even what one might call ballads. What are some of KC fans' favorite softer tracks or ballads in the catalogue? I was thinking the slow/soft ones with vocals but if you want to include instrumental moments like 'Trio', that's ok too. Here's 5 of mine:

    1) I Talk To The Wind - beautiful flute, very pastoral, and one that was hardly ever played live. Most of ITKOTCK was resurrected by the current/final lineup with exception of Talk To The Wind. I guess three drummers would kind of ruin it., It remains a classic from a classic album.

    2) Cadence And Cascade - with Gordon Haskell on vocals. Many view him as the weakest vocalist in KC and his stint was brief (He appeared here, and on Lizard,, but abruptly quit before they could tour Lizard). Others have sung this track but Haskell's fragile vocals suit it best. Again, nice flute as well.

    3) Two Hands - from Beat (1982). Overlooked gentler track borrows that African slit drum percussion thingy from The Sheltering Sky for this ballad sung from the perspective of a figure in a painting on a wall observing a couple making love. Robert Fripp's trumpet-like solo here is the kind of atmospheric solo he just dosn't play anymore. Fripp and Belew both supposedly dislike the track and thought it a mistake. I find it to be really swell. Never performed live.

    4) Book Of Saturday - one of John Wetton's definitive songwriting moments with Richard Palmer-James, plus some tasty melodic violin from David Cross. On an album with a lot of far out fusion, such a track hits the spot.

    5) Islands - dreamy title track is a standout for me in the entire catalogue. Gentle, stormy, evokes the sea. Piano, horns, flute, plaintive vocals from Boz Burrel (not a bad singer at all during his stint). You hardly hear any Fripp on it. Peter Sinfield's poetic words - very nice. Where else can you get lyrics like "Cats prowl, mice run" ? I like the anthemic ending, and I like how the drums are low in the mix. I love Islands. Beautiful track.

    Honorable mentions: Matte Kudasai, Walking On Air, Lady Of The Dancing Water. I didn't want to leave them out, but I guess I did. What are your top 3 or 5 King Crimson soft tracks/ballads?

    #2
    Good list Soundwaveseeker! Two songs that came to mind immediately are Moonchild and Heartbeat.

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      #3
      Epitaph is my all time favorite KC song (if that counts as a ballad). As poignant today as when they wrote it, and when I first heard it. In fact - I’m gonna listen to it right now. 😉

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        #4
        Mention needs to be made of Exiles…just gorgeous!

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          #5
          The version of Talk to the Wind with Judy Dyble vocals, which was first issued on the Young Person's Guide to KC, is my favourite KC ballad.

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            #6
            Originally posted by Olorin View Post
            Mention needs to be made of Exiles…just gorgeous!
            Yep agree completely. I would also add Matte Kudasai. A great song.

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              #7
              I’m not sure The Night Watch counts as a ballad, but I love it. Would have to go with Book of Saturday.

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                #8
                Originally posted by Kevin W View Post

                Yep agree completely. I would also add Matte Kudasai. A great song.
                I didn't mention Matte Kudasai only because someone else already had. But I guess to answer this question in full, my favorite Crimson ballads would be Exiles, Book of Saturday, Matte Kudasai, Heartbeat, and Walking on Air. And the most openly erotic of those is Heartbeat, for sure!

                Robert Fripp famously said that on record, Crimson was a love letter but in concert, it was a hot date. But truthfully, its best ballads are beautiful love letters.

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                  #9
                  Originally posted by JMKUSA View Post
                  I’m not sure The Night Watch counts as a ballad, but I love it. Would have to go with Book of Saturday.
                  The Night Watch has been a favourite for me since I first heard in the mid-70s. I'm not sure it's a ballad either, but I love Palmer-James' lyrics, and as I've come to know the painting really well over the years too, my appreciation of the song has only deepened.

                  I'm not a Belew fan I'm afraid, of his writing or singing. Instrumentally Krim with him were very strong, but I can't stand his ballads, Heartbeat in particular makes my teeth hurt!

                  Islands I like a lot, and Moonchild. Exiles and Book of Saturday too.
                  Sometimes the lights all shining on me, other times I can barely see.
                  Lately it occurs to me what a long strange trip it’s been.

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                    #10
                    the flute of talk to the wind always gets me, RIP Ian McDonald
                    The Definitive YES Albums

                    -The Yes Album-Fragile-Close to the Edge-Tales From Topographic Oceans-
                    -Relayer-Going for the One-Drama-90125-Big Generator-Union-Talk-
                    -The Ladder-Magnification-Fly From Here-The Quest-

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                      #11
                      Starless

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                        #12
                        Originally posted by Gtkgasman View Post
                        Epitaph is my all time favorite KC song (if that counts as a ballad). As poignant today as when they wrote it, and when I first heard it. In fact - I’m gonna listen to it right now. 😉
                        Red might still be my favorite KC album in its entirety - but Epitaph is an absolute masterpiece and one of the greatest songs ever written by anyone.

                        Here's to hoping that the song even exists for future generations.

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