King Crimson: In the Wake of Poseidon

ON THIS DATE (42 YEARS AGO)
May 15, 1970 – King Crimson: In the Wake of Poseidon is released.
# ALL THINGS MUSIC PLUS+ 5/5
# allmusic 4.5/5
In the Wake of Poseidon is the second album by King Crimson, released on this date in May, 1970.
The contrast between soft, lyrical ballads and frenetic sonic barrages is even more pronounced, the dynamics shifts even more extreme. As on In the Court of the Crimson King, there are extended cuts comprising several discrete sections. An important development is Fripp’s increased (and increasingly sophisticated) use of the mellotron as its own instrument rather than an orchestra substitute, as seen on the album’s several ominous instrumental pieces.
“Pictures of a City” seems meant to pick up where “20th Century Schizoid Man” left off, with it’s furious ensemble passages, knotty Fripp guitar leads and Greg Lake’s authoritative vocal. “Cadence and Cascade” helps fill out the ballad quotient with a beautiful, wispy vocal from transitional singer Gordon Haskell. A valuable note of humor is interjected into the proceedings via the jokey, off-handedly jazzy “Cat Food.” Keith Tippet’s piano and Mel Collins’ sax–both soon to play larger roles–were introduced on Poseidon as well.
By the time this album was released, the band had already undergone their first change in line-up, however they still maintained much of the style of their first album, In the Court of the Crimson King, but it expands upon the ground broken by the debut. Shortly after, Greg Lake became the thirs member to leave after being approached by Keith Emerson to join what would become Emerson, Lake & Palmer. This left Fripp as the only remaining musician in the band, taking on part of the keyboard-playing role in addition to guitar. To compensate, Sinfield increased his own creative role and began developing his interest in synthesisers for use on subsequent records.
Lake agreed to sing on the recordings for In the Wake of Poseidon (negotiating to receive King Crimson’s PA equipment as payment). Eventually, he ended up singing on the band’s early 1970 single “Cat Food” b/w “Groon” and on all but one of the album’s vocal tracks. The exception was “Cadence and Cascade”, which was sung by Fripp’s old schoolfriend and teenage bandmate Gordon Haskell. There does exist however, an early mix of the song with Lake singing a guide vocal which was unearthed and featured on the DGM site as a download. At one point, the band considered hiring the then-unknown Elton John to be the album’s singer, but decided against it. Other former members and associates returned – as session players only – for the Poseidon recordings, with all bass parts being handled by Peter Giles and Michael Giles performing the drumming. Mel Collins (formerly of the band Cirkus) contributed saxophones and flute. Another key performer was jazz pianist Keith Tippett, who became an integral part of King Crimson’s sound for the next few records (although Fripp offered him full band membership, Tippett preferred to remain as a studio collaborator and only performed live with the band once).
With the album on sale, Fripp and Sinfield remained in the awkward position of having King Crimson material and releases available, but not having a band to play it. In considerable desperation, Fripp persuaded Gordon Haskell to join permanently as singer and bass player, and recruited drummer Andy McCulloch, another Dorset musician moving in the West London progressive rock circle, who’d previously been a member of Shy Limbs (alongside Greg Lake, who recommended him to Fripp) and Manfred Mann’s Earth Band. Mel Collins was also retained as a full band member.
REVIEW
by Bruce Eder, allmusic
King Crimson opened 1970 scarcely in existence as a band, having lost two key members (Ian McDonald and Michael Giles), with a third (Greg Lake) about to leave. Their second album — largely composed of Robert Fripp’s songwriting and material salvaged from their stage repertory (“Pictures of a City” and “The Devil’s Triangle”) — is actually better produced and better sounding than their first. Surprisingly, Fripp’s guitar is not the dominant instrument here: The Mellotron, taken over by Fripp after McDonald’s departure — and played even better than before — still remains the band’s signature. The record doesn’t tread enough new ground to precisely rival In the Court of the Crimson King. Fripp, however, has made an impressive show of transmuting material that worked on stage (“Mars” aka “The Devil’s Triangle”) into viable studio creations, and “Cadence and Cascade” may be the prettiest song the group ever cut. “The Devil’s Triangle,” which is essentially an unauthorized adaptation of “Mars, Bringer of War” from Gustav Holst’s The Planets, was later used in an eerie Bermuda Triangle documentary of the same name.
TRACKS:
All songs written by Robert Fripp and Peter Sinfield, unless otherwise indicated.
Side one
“Peace – A Beginning” – 0:49
“Pictures of a City” – 8:03
including “42nd at Treadmill”
“Cadence and Cascade” – 4:27
“In the Wake of Poseidon” – 7:56
including “Libra’s Theme”
Side two
“Peace – A Theme” (Fripp) – 1:15
“Cat Food” (Fripp, Sinfield, Ian McDonald) – 4:54
“The Devil’s Triangle” – 11:35
       (I) “Merday Morn” (Fripp, McDonald)
       (II) “Hand of Sceiron” (Fripp)
       (III) “Garden of Worm” (Fripp)
“Peace – An End” – 1:53
40th Anniversary Edition
CD (original album 2010 mix)
“Peace – A Beginning”
“Pictures of a City”
“Cadence and Cascade”
“In the Wake of Poseidon”
“Peace – A Theme”
“Cat Food”
“The Devil’s Triangle (part I)”
“The Devil’s Triangle (part II)”
“The Devil’s Triangle (part III)”
“Peace – An End”
Bonus Tracks
“Groon” (2010 mix)
“Peace – An End” (alternate mix)
“Cadence and Cascade” (Greg Lake guide vocal)
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