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King Crimson — The Night Watch
(Discipline DGM9707, 1973/1997, 2CD)

The Night Watch Cover art

The Night Watch is a testament, or an epitaph, to one of the greatest bands that ever performed. I had the vastly inferior LP boot Un Rêve sans Conséquence Spéciale, a single disc recorded at the Amsterdam Concertgebouw on Nov. 23rd, 1973. Yes, it's that show. The tour for Larks' Tongues in Aspic, the foundation for the even better album to follow, Starless and Bible Black. If you have never heard this music, shame on you, stop here. If you have, I needn't go into how good these songs are, they are like a cabernet, age has only improved them. Travel back in time, to a smoke filled hall in Holland, the sweetly cloying aroma of marijuana thick. Before you a band plays, at times fiery, at times serene. At all times amazing. For the first time hear "Starless and Bible Black," "Fracture," and as your head reels from that last joint, time itself stops and you forget how to breathe as you gaze, slack-jaw as the band performs "Trio." I never had the pleasure to see this band play, so mementos like this are treasures. As is expected with DGM releases, it has superior liner notes and photos (though some of it is from The Great Deceiver box set). The sound quality is fucking amazing and if you hold the vinyl bootleg up to the speaker during "The Talking Drum" the atoms that bind the polymer together actually "jerk," causing the LP to explode. If you have The Great Deceiver set, it doesn't matter, you'll buy this. If you want to hear what true rock and roll is, buy this. Do yourself a favor, turn down the lights, turn up the stereo and listen (maybe even light up). If any album deserves the tag, best live album ever, this could be it. They just don't make music like this anymore. Yeah, I liked it.

by Dane Carlson, Published 1998-07-01

What makes the world's most anal guitarist fixate about a live moment in a band's stellar history? Is it that he looks upon the past to link a discussion with the present or is it a fond look on a glorious day gone by for a small select audience? I believe it is for inspiration and true historical footnoting of one of the world's topnotch live bands. Not many true Crimheads may find this two disc set worth trotting out $20 to delve deeper into a period already exhaustively documented on The Great Deceiver box set. Plus three of the songs from the album have already been available on Starless and Bible Black. The compelling reason to own this product is for a more complete, in-context-view of a band in tune with its audience in one of the few gigs the band themselves recognized as a peak performance. This recording  is what Fripp meant by stating, "This is one of those hot dates you get excited about where real magic happens on-stage!" I've owned a boot copy (Un Rêve sans Conséquence Spéciale) for several years; I kept it due to the unparalleled power of the segue from (the now-titled) "Frightwatch" through "The Talking Drum" and the best ever version of "Larks' Tongues in Aspic Part 2." In direct contrast, "Trio" is one of the most serene pieces the group ever played. The improved sound quality of this live chronicle makes the album essential for your collection. And it is one of the finest live shows by any band anywhere. Run don't walk to your local store to hold it in your greedy little hands.

by Jeff Melton, Published 1998-07-01

Probably the most bootlegged King Crimson concert of all time, this classic show from the Concertgebouw in Amsterdam has likely been heard by even the casual fan of the group. (I think I heard this particular live show before I had even heard the studio versions of some of the tracks contained in it!) Why is this show so common? Because... parts of The Night Watch were originally broadcast on the BBC Rock Hour radio show. However, as is the case with most radio shows, some of the tracks from the concert were not part of the broadcast. King Crimson has righted the wrong by releasing the entire concert in this package. It's vintage Wetton / Bruford / Fripp / Cross Crimson. Many fans might wonder how this stacks up to the material from The Great Deceiver box set. The recording quality and mix are not surprisingly superior. (They were planning on releasing and FM broadcasting parts of the show after all.) Individually, most of the tracks on The Night Watch are also represented on The Great Deceiver. And the ones that aren't are on the Starless and Bible Black album. However, the great sound quality and classic performance, combined with the fact that it's a complete concert, make this set a must have for all Crimson fans — even those who have memorized The Great Deceiver. This is a great live band.

by Mike Grimes, Published 1998-07-01

Filed under: New releases, Issue 15, 1997 releases, 1973 recordings

Related artist(s): Bill Bruford / Earthworks, David Cross, Robert Fripp, King Crimson, John Wetton

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