King Crimson to Release Long-Coveted ‘Blue Tapes’
For years, the so-called 'Blue Tapes' have been among the most sought-after items for King Crimson fans, coveted as much for the musical clarity on display during these 1973-74 concerts as for their scarcity.
Not anymore. Robert Fripp's DGM Live label is set to officially release the complete 'Blue Tapes' on Oct. 13 as part of a massive 24-disc behemoth titled 'Starless.' Mastered from quarter-inch, two-track direct-to-stereo soundboard reel-to-reel recordings of King Crimson's 1974 European tour, the 'Blue Tapes' highlight the 20-CD/two-DVD-A/two-Blu-ray box -- which expands to focus on live and studio work from October 1973 to April 1974 featuring Fripp, Bill Bruford, David Cross and John Wetton.
Wetton, told Somehing Else! in May that he still marvels over the band's amazing collaborative relationship. "Well, nobody knew where the improvisations started and where they stopped -- including us, by the way," he said. "There were formal pieces, and then improvisation took over again. Between 40 and 60 percent of the stuff that we played on stage with Crimson was improvisational. We had it down to fine art, as to how each piece dovetailed into the next one. And it was always different. Every night would be different."
This edition of King Crimson, however, would prove to be sadly short-lived. Wetton joined Fripp’s ever-shifting amalgam before 1973's 'Lark’s Tongue in Aspic,' and would contribute to both 'Starless and Bible Black' and 'Red' in 1974. But by the time Crimson's live recording 'USA' arrived the following year, the group had gone on hiatus.
“I thoroughly enjoyed my two or three years in King Crimson,” said Wetton, who later co-founded UK and then Asia. “It was like going to college, really. You come out with a qualification that no one can take away. When it was working, it had everything: Just when you would get sick of the riff churning around, something would happen -- and it would turn into this beautiful, lyrical passage. It was magical. It was really magical, very powerful.”
Limited to a single pressing, the upcoming concert box is meant to serve as a companion piece to DGM Live's expanded reissue of 'Starless and Bible Black,' which was released in 2011. The 'Blue Tapes,' named for the color of the boxes they've been housed in for four decades, will cover 11 discs.