Robert Fripp - guitar; Adrian Belew - guitar, drums, lead vocals; Tony Levin - bass, Chapman stick, synthesizer, vocals; Bill Bruford - drums, percussion
There have been six or seven radically different versions of this groundbreaking British progressive rock band since its inception in late 1968. Only guitarist Robert Fripp remains from the original group (which also included ELP's Greg Lake), but the line-up featured on this recording made three brilliant albums and launched three world tours. Captured before the band took a long, extended hiatus so Levin could focus on his work with Peter Gabriel and Bruford could return to his work with members from Yes, the band gave a rock solid, tight and exciting performance at the Spectrum in Montreal.
Montreal has always been a hotbed for prog rock and when this version of Crimson landed in there in July, 1984, fans were beside themselves with excitement. After all, this was the band many believe started the British progressive rock movement with their historic 1969 debut LP, In the Court of the Crimson King.
The band opened with "Red," the only holdover from the '72-'74 era material featured here and arguably one of the best songs Crimson ever recorded. Kurt Cobain allegedly told friends prior to his death that Red was one of the most beautiful albums he had ever heard. "Red," the song, is fitting opener and sets the tone for the entire show, which is an exercise in musical adventurism.
The rest of the material came from the three studio albums released by this version of King Crimson. Adrian Belew, who had worked with Talking Heads, Tom Tom Club and Frank Zappa (who discovered him in a Cleveland Holiday Inn cover band), is a brilliant front man, combining his entertaining vocal prowess with his innovative guitar licks; on set-closer "Elephant Talk," he makes his guitar sound like a charging African elephant. Drummer Bill Bruford and Adrian Belew are featured on the bizarre but fascinating "Indiscipline," and Levin shines on the Chapman stick during the band's last FM radio hit, "Sleepless."
This version of King Crimson and an expanded version featuring additional drummer Pat Mastelotto and bassist Trey Gunn (called the double trio line-up), has continued to record and perform into this decade, though this paricular performance was the last ever show with this exact lineup. In fact, King Crimson wouldn't again take the stage for another ten years. There have been plenty of live albums and official bootlegs, but for Crimson fans, this King Biscuit Flower Hour performance from 1984 remains a live highlight in the band's career.