In the Wake of Poseidon is the second album by King Crimson which was released in 1970. I’ve noticed this album and their debut, In The Court Of The Crimson King to be almost a yin and yang, with the latter being more dissonant and jazzier. It should be noted, especially those new to the band, that In The Wake Of Poseidon were recorded at the same time as the debut. This album, seems to be overlooked, but there’s some classic Crimson music here.
During this time, the band was imploding but it stayed some intact until the recordings were finished. Ian McDonald had already left, Greg Lake only provided most of the vocals as he left before the completion to go onto form ELP. Gordon Haskell was recruited to provide vocals on “Cadence and Cascade” (4:37). The remaining line-up is as follows, Peter & Michael Giles (bass and drums), Mel Collins (sax & flute) and Keith Tipppett (piano). This line-up didn‘t last as the next album, Lizard had an all new line-up (see my review of it in the links below). Oh and of course Robert Fripp provided guitar & Mellotron.
As previously stated, the music is somewhat different, almost like a bridge from the debut to the Lizard album. You hear more jazzier and avant-garde tones that would be explored more on the next album, Lizard.
Years ago, when I first heard this album, I wasn‘t keen on the album but as the years went by and I got older, I‘ve grown to love it as much as the debut. Some of my favorite tracks as well as the entire catalog, are "Pictures of a City" (8:01) which sounds somewhat similar to "21st Century Schizoid Band" but a bit jazzier. Then the title track, In The Wake Of Poseidon” (8:26) which contains some beautifully played Mellotron coupled with fantastic vocals by Greg Lake.
Another favorite is three-part epic "The Devil's Triangle" which shows the band going into territories like Univers Zero. The music just builds with new sounds appearing over the course of 11 minutes. This is one song that if you listen to in the dark and with headphones on and eyes closed, and your mind might conjure up something nightmarish yet beautiful.
In 2010, King Crimson released a 40th Anniversary Edition of this album, which was mixed by Robert Fripp and Steven Wilson (Porcupine Tree). I have to say right off that I feel this edition is the DEFINITIVE EDITION! The music is so clear and jumps out at you with restraint.
As part of this re-issue, there’s a new mix of the B-side "Groon" (3:35), which to me is on par with “Cat Food” (4:54). There’s also a DVD which has the entire album in Surround Sound, an original Stereo Mix plus a new high resolution stereo mix, and some demo and early takes that were mixed in high resolution stereo for this release. Those that have a top-notch surround sound system will benefit greatly with this edition.
In closing, if you own any of the previous issues, I would say give those to someone that wants to explore King Crimson, then you must purchase the 40th Anniversary Series. Highly recommended is painfully an obvious deduction here.
Reviewed by Ron Fuchs on March 29th, 2011