- Forget the Polydor and EG reissues (and anything that’s come along lately) – these early British pressings are the only way to hear this album sound the way it should
- Contains the rare pre-Crimson Robert Fripp demo of I Talk To The Wind, recorded with a female lead vocalist [which can be found at the end of side one]
- 4 1/2 stars: “…rounded up an excellent, if somewhat idiosyncratic, survey of the group’s seven years together, its contents ranging from the unimpeachable classics to unimaginable rarities… the definitive study of the original King Crimson.”
- KILLER Shootout Winning Triple Plus (A+++) sound or very close to it on both sides of this original Island Sunray pressing
- We had a wide variety of Islands (Pink and Sunray) and UK Polydor pressings, and if you want to know which of them sounds the best all you have to do is buy this LP!
- At good loud levels the horns blasting away on “21st Century Schizoid Man” are guaranteed to blow your mind on this copy
- 5 Stars: “The group’s definitive album, and one of the most daring debut albums ever …. it blew all of the progressive/psychedelic competition out of the running, although it was almost too good for the band’s own good — it took King Crimson nearly four years to come up with a record as strong or concise.”
- We’ve recently compiled a list of records we think every audiophile should get to know better, along the lines of “the 1001 records you need to hear before you die,” but with less of an accent on morbidity and more on the joy these amazing audiophile-quality recordings can bring to your life. In the Court of the Crimson King is a good example of a record many audiophiles may not know well but should.
Over the many years of doing shootouts for this album, we’ve listened to a lot of different pressings. Right from the start we could hear that no domestic pressing was, or was likely to ever be, remotely competitive with the best Brits.
Most later reissues — domestic or import — were as flat and lifeless as a cassette, although we admit that some were clearly better than others.
The MoFi pressing is one of their best. Unfortunately we have little tolerance for the dynamic compression, overall lifelessness and wonky bass heard on practically every record they ever remastered. One of the reasons your MoFi might not sound wrong to you is that it isn’t really “wrong.” It’s doing most things right, and it probably will beat whatever you can find to throw at it.
But it’s lacking some important qualities, and a listen to one of our Hot Stampers will allow you to hear exactly what you’re not getting when you play an audiophile pressing of In The Court Of The Crimson King, even one as good as MoFi’s.
Side by side the comparison will surely be striking. How much energy, size and power and passion is missing from the record you own? There’s only one way to find out, and it’s by playing a better copy of the album. This one will do nicely!
One of our good customers had this to say about some Hot Stampers he purchased recently:
I played McDonald & Giles last night
Massive improvement over my US first pressing I bought new back in the day. I could tell it was produced with care but I was pleasantly surprised just how nice it is.
This is worth every dollar. I’m extremely pleased.
I hope you can find a better cover for me.
A question: I have pressings of Ziggy and Aladinsane. Also a very nice UK RCA 1st pressing of Pinups.
They are much better than the US versions I have played since the early 1970’s (yes, still in great shape as I’ve always had decent playback equipment)
Sonically these 3 are not at the same level as McDonald & Giles. Do your white stampers of these titles have the warmth, detail and impact of that one?
Ziggy has the potential to sound better than M and G, but that’s what good cleaning and shootouts are for, to find the best copies.
All you can do is keep buying them and improving your cleaning technology, eventually you should find something better, maybe even much better.
And the next top quality Ziggy we find will sell for $1000 or more.
So there is probably not much we can do for you there, sorry!
Sonic Grade: B
The MoFi pressing shown here is surely one of their best.
Unfortunately, these days we have little tolerance for the dynamic compression, overall lifelessness and wonky bass heard on practically every record they ever remastered. Including this one.
One of the reasons your MoFi might not sound wrong to you is that it isn’t really “wrong.” It’s doing most things right, and it will probably beat most of what you can find to throw at it. A quick survey:
If you have the Atlantic pressing, from any era, you have never begun to hear this record at its best.
UK Polydor reissue? Passable, not really worth the labor to put them in a shootout and have them earn mediocre grades.
The same can be said for some of the early UK Pink Label Island pressings. None of them has ever won a shootout and none probably ever will. We don’t buy them as a rule, for two related reasons: one, they are expensive, and two, their sound quality does not justify paying the premium price sellers typically are asking.
We leave them to the record collectors who like to collect originals.
We and our customers are audiophiles. We like to collect records with good sound. If we have our heads on straight, we don’t care what pressing we buy as long as it’s the one with the best sound. (Of course, not everybody agrees with us about that, but enough of you out there do, such that our business is sure to proper in the years to come.
Back to the MoFi
It’s lacking some important qualities, and a listen to one of our Hot Stampers will allow you to hear exactly what you’re not getting when you play an audiophile pressing, any audiophile pressing, even one as good as MoFi’s.
Side by side the comparison will surely be striking. How much energy, size, power and passion is missing from the record you own?
There’s only one way to find out, and it’s by playing a better copy of the album. (more…)
- You’ll find incredible sound on both sides of this very well recorded proggy album
- These early UK pressed sides are full of the kind of Tubey Magic that makes us (and other right-thinking audiophiles) swoon – thanks Brian Humphries!
- If you like early King Crimson – they were in the band don’t you know – you will surely get a big kick out of this one-of-a-kind sleeper from 1970
- 4 stars: “The main attraction is really the performances turned in by McDonald and the Giles brothers — they all sound fabulous…”
- If you’re a Prog Rock or Art Rock fan, this is a classic from 1970 that belongs in your collection.
- The complete list of titles from 1970 that we’ve reviewed to date can be found here.
Brian Humphries engineered the album, and although you may not be all that familiar with his name, if you’re an audiophile you know his work well. Take a gander at this group:
- Traffic – John Barleycorn Must Die
- Black Sabbath – Paranoid
- Traffic – The Low Spark Of High Heeled Boys
- Pink Floyd – Wish You Were Here
Two are of course on our Top 100 Rock and Pop List, and all four — five if you count McDonald And Giles — qualify as State of the Art Rock Recordings from the era. (more…)
- Stunning sound throughout for this vintage Island Sunray pressing with both sides earning Shootout Winning Triple Plus (A+++) grades or very close to them
- Every bit the sonic equal of the first album – if colorful Big Production Jazzy Prog Rock (with mellotron!) is your thing, you can’t go wrong here
- 4 stars: “Lizard is very consciously jazz-oriented — the influence of Miles Davis (particularly Sketches of Spain) being especially prominent — and very progressive, even compared with the two preceding albums.”
- The band’s superb 1973 release makes its modern Hot Stamper debut here with KILLER Shootout Winning Triple Plus (A+++) sound or close to it from start to finish
- Bass and body are key to the best pressings, along with Prog Rock energy, and here you will find plenty of all three
- A powerful, dynamic recording, yet the Island Tubey Magical Richness and Smoothness are always there to keep the proceedings from getting out of hand.
- 4 1/2 stars: “… this lineup quickly established itself as a powerful performing unit, working in a more purely experimental, less jazz-oriented vein than its immediate predecessor.”
Like any KC record, this album alternates its soft parts and its heavy parts. The soft parts sound oh so sweet and delicate, each intricacy revealed to perfection by the out-of-this-world recording quality, while the heavy parts sound big and bold, augmented by Fripp’s meaty, fuzzed-out guitar and Bill Bruford’s savage percussion.
What’s uncanny about this pressing is how the softness and heaviness play off each other, transitioning into one another, WITHOUT LOSING A THING. With most prog rock records, once the bombast starts kicking in, all the intricacies of the midrange and top end get washed out. But when this pressing’s rockin’, the subtle contribution of the mellotron in the background can still clearly be recognized, floating above the clouds, tying everything together, with all of Bill Bruford’s intricate percussion effects along for the ride. (more…)
One of our good customers had this to say about some Hot Stampers he purchased recently:
Finally got the thoroughly sit down an carefully listen to the Poseidon LP.
WOW !!!! I heard the hotness of the pressing!!!
Great condition to for a vintage UK LP.
I also read about and purchased the Walker Audio cleaning system! Great system!!!!
Will be on the lookout for other hot stampers as they become available.
Lastly, it is great that you include the play grade of the vinyl too or at least note if it is exceptionally quiet!
This helps make an informed decision on what to expect.
A distinguished member of the Better Records Rock and Pop Hall of Fame.
This is a Minty British Polydor red label import LP. These British imports are consistently superior to their domestic counterparts. We do not even bother to pick up domestic King Crimson albums anymore; the sub-generation tapes they are made from cause them to be smeary, veiled and compressed. If there are good ones out there we sure haven’t heard them.
As for this copy, both sides are tubey magical and sweet, again, qualities sorely lacking in domestic pressings. Both sides are however a bit recessed compared to the best we’ve played. Side two is especially dynamic though; the sound really jumps in places. (more…)
- King Crimson’s second studio album debuts on the site with outstanding Double Plus (A++) sound or BETTER on both sides
- This pressing is Big and Tubey, with clear, breathy vocals, especially critical to the success of the a capella opening track, “Peace – A Beginning”
- This lovely original Island Pink Label British Import LP has a beautiful textured cover and plays as quiet as we can find them, Mint Minus to Mint Minus Minus throughout
- 4 1/2 stars: “The record…, 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.”
If you love the sound of a vintage All Tube recording of the mellotron — whether by Led Zeppelin or The Moody Blues — you will find that Robin Thompson has got hold of a very good sounding one here. Thompson is of course the engineer for the first King Crimson album, so his recording skills as regards the instrument are well established.
Note that the British Island pressings for this album as well as the first are by far the best sounding, assuming you have a good one. What is interesting about early Island LPs is just how bad some of them are. And let me tell you, we’ve paid the price in time and money to find out just how bad some Island Pink Labels can sound. (more…)