King Crimson: Beat & Three of a Perfect Pair
Robert Fripp unveiled a radically different King Crimson with 1981’s Discpline, a torrent of interlocking guitars, New Wave choruses, and spastic rhythms. While the LP single-handedly reinvigorated progressive rock in the decade, its British-American quartet line-up—guitarist Fripp, guitarist-frontman Adrian Belew, bassist Tony Levin, drummer Bill Buford—never earned equal buzz for their underrated sequels, 1982’s Beat and 1984’s Three of a Perfect Pair. Both albums, the black sheep in Crimson’s expansive catalog, are newly remixed by Fripp and prog golden boy Steven Wilson as part of DGM’s ongoing 40th Anniversary Series, but only diehards will notice the subtle mixing tweaks—like the depth of Belew’s doubled vocals on arena-groomed Beat ballad “Heartbeat.” Still, don’t let the archival reviews confuse you: Though these LPs lack Discipline’s surprise factor and track-by-track consistency, both added colorful twists to the ‘80s Crim oeuvre—Beat with its sleek Afrofunk grooves (“Waiting Man,” “Sartori in Tangier”); Perfect Pair with its bouts of brutal, mechanized noise (“Dig Me,” “No Warning”). The latest reissues offer an audiophile bounty for Crimson Kings: 5.1 surround mixes, alternate mixes, and lossless stereo tracks. More important, both enrich the story of this ‘80s lineup with rare and unheard tracks, from Levin’s hilarious barbershop quartet goof “The King Crimson Barber Shop” on Perfect Pair (“Settle back to have some fun/ And tap your foot in 21”) to the newly unearthed studio version of Beat’s manic “Absent Lovers,” highlighted by Bruford’s sculpted hip-hop drumming. For newcomers, Discipline is still the gateway, but there’s plenty left to explore once you pass through.