King Crimson: Discipline




King Crimson


Discipline (E.G. Music 3629-2)

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Robert Fripp (guitar and devices), Bill Bruford (drums),

Adrian Belew (guitar), Tony Levin (stick, bass)


Composed by King Crimson


Recorded: date unknown; released in 1981


Rating: 82/100 (learn more)

There has always been a fine line between progressive rock and fusion. Progressive rock historians tend to include fusion in their archives. At Internet site collections of prog rock, you will find listings for Mahavishnu and Weather Report. The same is generally not true coming from the fusion side of the equation. Only occasionally will you see groups such as Focus or King Crimson included in the fusion discussion. But those and other bands did cross over the fusion line from time to time, and deserve to be so noted. The case comes down to improvisation. While it is unclear whether studio recordings of progressive rock tunes in the gray area between the genres include improvisation, there is little doubt that live concerts contained at least some of it. King Crimson, in its first incarnation, clearly developed a style that incorporated jazz, funk and group improvisation.

The group on Discipline, coming seven years after King Crimson's preceding lineup called it quits, initially wasn't going to operate under that name. Founding member Fripp put together a new band to be called Discipline. He recruited Bill Bruford, who had appeared in several previous King Crimson lineups, Adrien Belew and Tony Levin. At some point Fripp changed his mind, and just called the new group King Crimson. Apparently he felt the spirit of the original band.

The reconstituted King Crimson's 1980s style veered towards the new-wave movement of the time, especially on vocal numbers. But being a fusion fan, I ignore those cuts. There was less improvisation, if any, on a tune like "Discipline." But fusion elements were still present, including mantra-like riffs and Fripp's slightly off-kilter arpeggios that he had been playing since back in King Crimson's early days during the '60s. "Discipline" doesn't have much forward motion. Any advances it does make come at a snail's pace. But a "disciplined" rhythm in both count and melody makes for a taut exercise in walking the tightrope between progressive rock and fusion.

Reviewer: Walter Kolosky

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