The same year that The Strolling Bones resurrected the ghost of their famed 1969 Hyde Park gig (by way celebrating of the band’s 50th anniversary) sees the latest, unexpected call to arms for arguably the most important, celebrated support act on that bill. Crimson had yet to make their recorded debut when they joined Family, Roy Harper, Alexis Korner and others to set the stage for that legendary Woodstock-inspired festival line-up; they secured their place on the strength of a club buzz that gained the approbation of the cream of ’60s rock talent including Pete Townsend, Bowie and Hendrix.
When In The Court of The Crimson King surfaced later in ’69, it, to quote oftentimes Crimson percussionist Bill Bruford, ”…signalled the emergence of the mature progressive rock style…” and its (the album’s and the band’s) influence has been felt and appreciated ever since by several generations of aspiring art rockers including Genesis, Nick Cave, Tool, Doves, Between The Buried And Me and Dutch Uncles. Crimson has only convened to record and tour but sporadically over the intervening years and, Bob Fripp aside, the band membership has been in more-or-less constant flux and yet in spite – or perhaps because – of this, and enhanced by its membership’s extensive and diverse repertoire – there’s scant sign of its creativity becoming stale. It’s arguably retained its freshness and credibility better than any other exponent of the prog era.
The band for the upcoming shows is yet to be fully confirmed but Fripp‘s latest online diary update reveals “…[t]he Seven-Headed Beast of Crim is in Go! mode…”, and names session veteran William ‘Bill’ Rieflin – best know for his stints with Ministry and REM but also a former Fripp collaborator – and hints that oftentimes Crimson stick-man Tony Levin (Peter Gabriel, Paula Cole, ABWH, Liquid Tension Experiment, Steven Wilson) is also on board.
One ostensible indicator of Rieflin‘s suitability for inclusion in the re-vamped line-up is his proven ability to lay down a tight groove in concert with a drumming partner; as evidenced by his position in an early incarnation of the Ministry touring band alongside PIL‘s Martyn Atkins (see below): for this writer, one of the most exhilarating pieces of rock concert footage ever committed to tape
But who are the other possible contenders for this according to Fripp ‘…very different reformation to what has gone before…’?
Completing the 4-strong English contingent alongside Fripp – maybe Porcupine Tree‘s Gavin Harrison (d) and Steven Wilson (g/v), and Jakko M. Jacszyk (g/v)? Harrison sparred with Pat Mastellotto (below) on the Crim‘s last stage outing and both Wilson and Jaczsyk have developed strong working relationships with Fripp thru studio projects in the last few years. There’s an outside possibility that Fripp may have tempted Bill Bruford (p) out of retirement, or John Wetton (b/v) back into the fold; or maybe decided to bring horns back into the mix: Theo Travis‘ star has certainly been rising over the last few years, considering his prolific collaborations with the likes of Wilson, Gong, the revitalized Judy Dyble and others.
On the American side, take your pick from Crimson veterans Pat Mastellotto (d), Trey Gunn (g/b) and Adrian Belew (g/v/d) plus the aforementioned Rieflin and Levin. Then again, one Michael Portnoy (d) has been busily pursuing a number of avenues since his parting of the ways with prog giants Dream Theater (unlikely, granted; but you know he’d kill for the job…) and Tool‘s Danny Carey must have a little time on his hands waiting for Maynard to write the next batch of lyrics; has been showing his Jazz rock bent of late and has previously played with Crimson on a double headline tour a few years back (the two bands being mutually-appreciative of the other’s gifts).
Buuuut… enough idle speculation already. Play mix’n’match to your heart’s content Crim-heads. Sufficed to say I’m excited about this (can you tell?). I’ve never seen this band live so here’s hoping I’m able to pick up tickets when the shows are announced.
In the meantime here’s a little reminder or several of Fripp & co.’s previous genius…
plus a couple affectionate tributes…