Generally considered to be one of King Crimson’s undeniable peaks – if just for Exiles, The Talking Drum and both parts of the title track alone – Larks’ Tongues In Aspic was the result of one hell of a chemical reaction between David Cross (violin/viola/ mellotron), Bill Bruford (drums), Jamie Muir (percussion), John Wetton (bass/vocals) and Robert Fripp (guitar/mellotron/devices). Panegyric are marking its 40th anniversary with the release of four different reissues, from basic CD, 2-CD and CD+DVD packages featuring new mixes by Steve Wilson and Robert Fripp, to a luxurious box set limited.
Those with a royal treasury at their disposal will certainly plump for the latter booty: an embarrassment of riches that includes alternate mixes, session reels, first takes of all the tracks, restored bootlegs and soundboard recordings. The audio goods are matched by the visuals, which include unseen studio footage, a lavish booklet and even sleeve art print. It is, essentially, everything that this particular line-up ever recorded.
At 80 minutes, the CD of session reels is manna from heaven for Crimson fans, putting you in the studio with them as they recorded the album; so evocative, it’s as if you’re there at the very moments of creation. Studio chatter sees engineer Nick Ryan essentially become an old friend as the recordings progress, such is the amount of time he’s spending with the group. Elsewhere, during the recording of the album’s gamelan intro, we hear Jamie Muir getting into the zone, insisting, “I’ll do it without the cans. Can you leave me alone? Nothing personal or anything.”
There’s nothing more thrilling than hearing the call for “Larks’ Tongue, Take One”, before the band bite into the meat of the composition – and then re-record its various sections. Such lifting of the veil allows you to hear both the old and new mixes of the album under a new light. It also offers insight to the live recordings, which reveal a band familiar not only with with the material but also with each other, launching into to some interstellar versions of the likes of Exiles and Easy Money.
With King Crimson’s reputation soaring and their and influence even more apparent these days, Crimson fans shouldn’t lark about: the box set is strictly limited to a 7,000-only run.