The GB Album Club 035 - Three of a Perfect Pair by King Crimson

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unclejam23

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Duders! Welcome to the 35th edition of the Unofficial Giant Bomb Album Club! Last week, we did some proggy post-rock/metal with Clairvoyant by The Contortionist. This week, we're doing some proggy... well, prog, for our album this week is Three of a Perfect Pair by King Crimson! Links for listening:

Spotify

Apple Music

Youtube

Here at the Unofficial Giant Bomb Album Club, we put a bunch of (in this case) random albums into a pool and randomly pick one to listen to and discuss every week. We're doing a themeless chaos run this cycle, so if you want to submit something, anything, head over to our Discord! Do it.

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ZombiePie

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The left side of this album is good to great. The right side is a goddamn trainwreck of a mess. I still enjoy it as the last studio album to have Robert Fripp, Adrian Belew, Tony Levin and Bill Bruford together.

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unclejam23

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Forgot to mention that this album was picked by @fanaticalmilk! (Now writing actual thoughts.)

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unclejam23

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So I must sacrifice some music snob/hipster points, for the only King Crimson album I've ever listened to is In the Court of the Crimson King.

I remember finally listening to it around 2015-ish and thinking that I would probably find it overrated. (I think this way about a lot of albums deemed "classic." The internet has a gift for overstatement and I've been on it too long.) Turns it out it very much isn't. It's so good and so obviously influential, in fact, that ever since listening to it I always associate King Crimson with the bleeding edge. King Crimson cuts the path and everyone else follows. Or at least I thought that until listening to Three of a Perfect Pair.

That sounds more dramatic than I mean it. What I really mean is that In the Court of the Crimson King casts such a long shadow that it affected my listening of Three of a Perfect Pair a great deal. King Crimson, in my head, are the trailblazers. But here they are chasing their contemporaries. The first half of this album is perfectly serviceable '80s pop rock. Competent and listenable, sure, but also undistinguished. So I was prematurely readying arguments in my head for @zombiepie about how the second half would at least be interesting, but honestly, it isn't even that. It's avant-garde, yes, but it's avant-garde in the same ways a lot of "avant-garde" rock of the era was avant-garde, it doesn't really shift aesthetics enough, and then it ends without catharsis or a point.

I get that this is not a particularly beloved album and that whatever King Crimson record I listened to after the debut was going to have an uphill battle for me. But Three of a Perfect Pair still brought this band back down to Earth for me. I was bummed, but then I realized that was a good thing. Now I can go into my next King Crimson album with a clear head, not expecting god's gift to music or a total shitshow. (For the record, I don't think this album was that bad, but still.) I can go in expecting nothing at all, and that, in and of itself, is a kind of gift.

All that said, "Nuages (That Which Passes, Passes Like a Cloud)" is very pretty.

Favorite Songs: "Three of a Perfect Pair," "Nuages (That Which Passes, Passes Like a Cloud)," "Industry"

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redwing42

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Court of the Crimson King was also my only previous exposure to King Crimson, but I was also familiar with Belew from his work with David Bowie (and less so with Frank Zappa), as well as his solo album "Young Lions". So while I was maybe expecting the former, I was definitely familiar with what this album actually turned out to be. I can't say I particularly liked this album, though I thought it was fine and had its moments. It did make me want to go back to Young Lions, and though it has probably been a dozen years or so, I still think that is a fun romp.