(Discipline Global Mobile)

KING CRIMSON: VROOOM VROOOM (Discipline Global Mobile) King Crimson has been releasing live material through their Discipline Global Mobile label for quite some time now. The latest (and if you're a fan of the double-trio lineup, the best) release is VROOOM VROOOM, a compilation of shows recorded live in Mexico City, Los Angeles and New York. My only complaints are that the running order on the CDs doesn't coincide with the order of the songs in the actual concerts, and "B'Boom" and "THRAK" appear twice (once on each CD). Aside from that, this is one hell of an album.

Starting with a blistering version of the title track, the intensity continues through "Coda: Marine 475" and into "Dinosaur." Although the quiet midsection on the latter is missing, it's still a great performance. A lot of disc one is drum/percussion based. "B'Boom" and "Prism" are basically drum improvs. While they're far from boring, they would be more enjoyable in the actual context of the shows, instead of having so many drum-based songs on one disc.

"The Talking Drum" and "Larks Tongue in Aspic (Part II)" were always concert highlights, and they don't disappoint here. The thing that's sure to grab the attention of the fans on disc one is the killer version of "21st Century Schizoid Man" (which they normally don't play). Coming out of the quiet "Biker Babes of the Rio Grande" improv, the audience erupts with applause as soon as the song starts. Adrian Belew's vocals seem a bit odd on the song, but the awesome display of musicianship more than makes up for any vocal shortcomings.

Disc Two begins with the drum improv, "Conundrum," followed by the 1982 classic "Thela Hun Ginjeet." Recently covered by Les Claypool's Flying Frog Brigade, this classic from the Discipline album is well played and features the original conversations in the background. "People" shows the listener exactly what this band is all about. The interplay between the six musicians on this particular song is nothing short of breathtaking. "One Time" and "Sex Sleep Eat Drink Dream" are both great, and this particular version of "Indiscipline" might just be the best ever.

After a great "Elephant Talk" and "Three of a Perfect Pair," "B'Boom" and "THRAK" are back. Granted, they're not bad performances, but there were other songs played during these shows (like "Matte Kudesai") that don't appear here. Disc Two also includes the rarity "Free as a Bird"--previously only available on a Japanese import or via a membership in the KCCC (King Crimson Collectors Club)--although the intro is missing here. Instead, it just starts from the end of the improv at the end of "THRAK." Rounding out this collection is one of the band's most beautiful ballads, "Walking on Air." The stereo effects on the sound are particularly noteworthy.

Some people have expressed displeasure (Fripp included) about the double trio being little more than a 'greatest hits' outfit. While this may be a true statement, it's also true that the live renditions of these 'hits' are far superior to their studio predecessors. The band improvised freely onstage during these tours (something the 80's lineup seldom did), taking musical risks at every possible opportunity. VROOOM VROOOM is an excellent representation of what the double trio was capable of onstage (even if the songs aren't in the proper order). Recommended for Crimheads and newbies alike.

© 2001 Steve Marshall
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