The Road to Red

What we now call progressive metal – distended composition, flinty-guitar textures and crushing virtuosity – hit an early, breathtaking apex on this British art-rock institution's 1974 U.S. tour, the prelude to its last Seventies studio LP, Red. The 16 shows in this diarylike box are almost all from soundboard-or-better sources. Each is unique in its improvising valliance and the intuitive charge of arguably Crimson's hottest lineup: John Wetton's grunting yet melodic bass; David Cross' lithe violin; drummer Bill Bruford's orchestral fury; the singing-needle tone and vengeance of Robert Fripp's guitar. No two trips through "Starless" or "The Talking Drum" are alike; none fall into routine. This was touring as nightly adventure.

From The Archives Issue 1200: January 16, 2014
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