King Crimson’s ‘In The Court Of The Crimson King’ Gets a 21st Century Make Over! – (2010 40th Anniversary)

I do not know much about King Crimson, I asked for ‘In The Court Of The Crimson King’ for a Christmas present. Simple as that. I knew they are considered founders of Prog by some, so I decided to take an aural peek.

I have heard three of the songs that feature on the album before but only cover versions by Ozzy Osbourne and Steve Hackett. Ozzy Osbourne covered ’21st Century Schizoid Man’ on his 2005 ‘Undercover’ album. Steve Hackett covered the title track, plus the glorious ‘I Talk To The Wind’ on his live double album ‘Tokyo Tapes’, which featured original KC member Ian McDonald.

The copy I received is part of the 40th Anniversary Series that includes bonus tracks and a DTS 5.1 Surround Sound treatment of the whole album amongst other 5.1 Surround Sound treatments such as the Dolby MLP as well as Stereo mixes all across this two disc version, one is a CD the other a DVD, which even includes live film footage from the Hyde Park gig of July 5th 1969.

The whole album has been painstakingly remastered from the original master tapes for both the Stereo and Surround Sound version’s by non other than Steven Wilson who has gone on to remaster most of the King Crimson catalogue.

Track List

CD Disc 1

  1. 21st Century Schizoid Man
  2. I Talk To The Wind
  3. Epitaph
  4. Moonchild
  5. The Court Of The Crimson King

Bonus tracks

  1. Moonchild (full version)
  2. I Talk To The Wind (due version)
  3. I Talk To The Wind (alternative mix)
  4. Epitaph (backing track)
  5. Wind Session

DVD Disc

In surround sound both DTS and MLP as well as Stereo

  • 21st Century Schizoid Man
  • I Talk To The Wind
  • Epitaph
  • Moonchild
  • The Court Of The Crimson King

Plus performance film footage from 5th July 1969 Hyde Park Country.

Band Members

  • Robert Fripp Guitar
  • Ian McDonald Flute, Clarinet, Saxaphone, Vibes, Keyboards,  Mellotron.
  • Greg Lake Vocals, Bass Guitar
  • Michael Giles Drums, Percussion
  • Peter Sinfield Lyrics, Illustrations

Cover Art was produced by Barry Godber who passed away not long after the album was released, he was originally a computer programmer born in 1946 and it is allegedly his only painting which is now owned by Robert Fripp.

Having heard the bonus tracks on the CD I would say that they are an interesting addition to this collection.

Now onto the the Surround sound DVD, this is was attracted me to the album. I had heard snippets before covered by Ozzy Osbourne and Steve Hackett as previously mentioned. I had also caught a few of the songs on dedicated radio stations however to finally hear these in Surround Sound was a surprise of shock and awe!

21st Century Schizoid Man 

Menacing with a balance of power and the vocals have a raw but edgy power! The Saxophone is clear as day! Nothing is muddy now! We compared the staggering remasters to the original vinyl and the effort really unfurls. Yes, the remasters are louder than their original but personally we did not notice much clipping and there appeared to be good dynamics. The song received the crunch that was generally less apparent in the original. It does lack a little of the warmth of the original but the clarity is absolutely brilliant. The lyrics are a stream of a consciousness, a warning to the greed, the destruction of nature and man made mother nurture. This is a dystopian tale where generations are lost in consumerism. Strangely accurate.

I Talk To The Wind

A gentle yet beautiful song – the Flutes are majestical here! The vocals are clear as glass! It is weird to think this album is over 40 years old, because here it sounds as fresh as a glass of milk off a farm. What an analogy!


An almost Kettle/Timpani drum opening sets the scene for a heavy mood, Mellotron strings and a slow paced drum beat do the rest its similar to The Moody Blues “Nights In White Satin”.


A stinging electric guitar starts this song then an affected vocal tells the story, a muddy bass guitar, dampened drums as well as a flute and Mellotron string section filling the rest of the song. This version has a large chunk in the middle missing from the original, however the original full length version is included for those who might miss it. It does raise the question if they were only going to rerelease it with both versions, why not just use the original one?

The Court Of The Crimson King

Mostly a very prominent and menacing Mellotron with extrusive drums. Then, Greg Lake’s vocals tell a warped tale of medieval superstitions. Or perhaps a funeral for Albert, Victoria’s husband as evident by the ‘black queen’. The meaning is unclear yet we have our own theories. A joyful flute fills over the line ‘the purple piper plays his tune’ as once again those Mellotron strings and Choir like backing vocals return for the glorious melody. This forms the end of the album which refuses to go quietly – fantastic in my opinion. The Surround Version adds new dimensions and emphasises the reverb and bite of the track.

It is excellent and better than I expected from an album made in 1969 to sound, especially when considering the issues with various versions of the album over the years. Steven Wilson of Porcupine Tree has worked some loving magic on this with the original master tapes.

A range of moods played throughout my mind and body whilst listening to this, of course the Surround Sound version is the best!

The Hyde Park footage is a bonus and should be viewed as such although it adds something to this two disc version.

If you like (early) Genesis or Pink Floyd and you wish to learn more about Progressive/Psychedelic/Space Rock music then this is for you. Also, get the two disc version with Surround Sound – worth every penny.