King Crimson's epic 26-CD Complete 1969 Recordings doesn't hold back

Mammoth box set charting the creation of prog rock’s alpha moment: King Crimson's In The Court Of The Crimson King

King Crimson: The Complete 1969 Recordings
(Image: © Panegyric)

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Come the end of 1969, popular music’s tectonic plates had shifted forever; the Rolling Stones were in the process of becoming ‘the greatest rock’n’roll band in the world’, The Beatles were shutting up shop, and Jimi Hendrix had made his defining statement with The Star Spangled Banner

Intriguing mutations were afoot too. As Miles Davis looked to rock music to kick-start his electric period, so rock – in the shape of King Crimson – turned to jazz and classical music, and in the process defined what was to follow in the decade ahead. This epic 26-disc box set (two DVDs, four Blu-rays and 20 CDs) tells the story of KC’s In The Court Of The Crimson King, one of the most audacious debut albums ever released. 

It doesn’t hold back. Seven of the CDs focus on King Crimson’s live work, which here includes their festival debut opening for the Stones in Hyde Park, as well as their appearance at the National Jazz & Blues Festival on a bill that featured fellow travellers Yes.

Pick of the bunch are the shows at Fillmores East and West, thanks to a combination of cleaned-up sound and stunning performances. Steven Wilson sprinkles his magic dust over the original album, while the recording sessions – complete with in-studio dialogue and alternative versions – are for the Crimson hard-core. 

Best of all are the BBC sessions that ramp up the fuzz and fizz. Sid Smith’s detailed sleeve notes make for engrossing reading.

Julian Marszalek

Julian Marszalek is the former Reviews Editor of The Blues Magazine. He has written about music for Music365, Yahoo! Music, The Quietus, The Guardian, NME and Shindig! among many others. As the Deputy Online News Editor at Xfm he revealed exclusively that Nick Cave’s second novel was on the way. During his two-decade career, he’s interviewed the likes of Keith Richards, Jimmy Page and Ozzy Osbourne, and has been ranted at by John Lydon. He’s also in the select group of music journalists to have actually got on with Lou Reed. Marszalek taught music journalism at Middlesex University and co-ran the genre-fluid Stow Festival in Walthamstow for six years.