Official Bootleg: Live In Chicago,
June 28th, 2017

King Crimson

King Crimson pump out live records almost as expeditiously as the Grateful Dead, and with the band back on the circuit and touring relentlessly, it’s no surprise, they’ve released four live albums since 2015. For 2017, Official Bootleg: Live In Chicago, June 28th, 2017, captures a show featuring an eight-piece configuration of Crimson covering a good portion of material from the 1970s, along with key tracks from the 60s, 80s, 00s, plus David Bowie’s “Heroes,” which originally included Crimson’s leader Robert Fripp originally on lead guitar.

The three-disc Radical Action To Unseat The Hold Of Monkey Mind with its seven-man lineup has many of those 70s pearls like “Picture Of A City” and “The Letters.” Live In Chicago digs deeper by adding “Cirkus” and “Lizard” (referred to as “The Lizard Suite”) from 1970’s Lizard, “Islands” from 1971’s Islands, and “Fallen Angel” from 1974’s Red. You’d think without Adrian Belew on board and Jakko Jaksyk’s voice more suited for the older songs, the set would veer away from anything Belew sang, but guess again. The troupe actually take on “Indiscipline” with Jaksyk completely changing the melody line and cadence. The song is virtually unrecognizable until you pick up on the chord progression, a splattering of incandescent drumming, and key lines like “I repeat myself when under stress.”

With so much at stake, and each show a monumental task, the set’s booklet goes to great lengths to explain the process of selecting a show for live release. After Fripp goes through the various incarnations of the band “in the form of a roughly scribed love letter,” the group’s manager David Singleton writes specifically how the Chicago show made the cut. Apparently, a performance from Vienna was being mixed for release until Fripp mentioned that “Chicago was exceptional.” For now, the Vienna show, which was from 2016, is on the back-burner, while Live In Chicago goes for broke with the “current eight-headed beast.” One spin through, and you’ll see why.

~ Shawn Perry

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