As the Crimson King returns for the 80s renewed and refreshed for a new era, I find it odd that the happiest of their sojourn through the primary colors is colored “blue.” Isn’t that the saddest of the three? 1982’s Beat follows “red” hot Discipline with the same amazing team of musicians that continue through to the last of the trilogy, 1984’s “yellow” Three of a Perfect Pair. That team is the King himself, Robert Fripp, returning member Bill Bruford, and newer members Tony Levin and Adrian Belew. Talk about your superstar line-up!
“Neal and Jack and Me” has everything that made Discipline so appealing, but throws a more mainstream spin. Of course then it takes a 180 just before the two minute mark. While not sacrificing any musical integrity on this record, they find ways to turn a phrase or spin a melody that reaches the masses. Songs like “Neal and Jack and Me” “Heartbeat” and “Two Hands” have great mainstream appeal for this era of prime period Peter Gabriel, David Bowie and Talking Heads.
I was lucky enough to witness their performance when they toured this record and walked away from one of my best concert experiences ever. Without the use of mind-altering substances, I was completely mesmerized. I remember actually feeling numb and “zoney” at the end of the evening, thus was the trance inducing nature of what this amazingly talented bunch could do. “Waiting Man” was especially incredible that night. It is rhythmically complex, but really smooth and easy with Belew’s vocal soaring over the complexities. It is, in psychiatric terms, “passive aggressive.”
“Neurotica” and “The Howler” maintain the more frantic nature of 1981’s Discipline, while “Sartori in Tangier” and “Requiem” are instrumentals that could not be confused with any other artist than KC.
Beat is not as esoteric as the previous album nor is it as inventive or fresh sounding. It is however, a great album that continues this style of the Crimson machine very well. If I was stuck on a desert island, I’d want Discipline. But I would really miss this particular album a lot.
Reviewed by Terry Jackson on March 15th, 2012