As a preamble to a recording take, it’s not exactly clear whether it was meant to be an attempt to focus minds or a witty intro to a take countdown. It was of the moment, with no intention of ever being heard again. Nobody knew it would turn out to be prescient as Crimson, barely five months since formation, laid down tracks for sessions for a proposed debut album – sessions about to be abandoned in favour of a move to another studio and total self-production weeks later. Fifty years on, the album is one of the most beloved & revered in the rock music canon. The 50th anniversary edition features completely new mixes of the album in stereo & 5.1 by Steven Wilson, with the album presented in 24/96 resolution in multi-channel for the first time. The multi-channel master also includes the extended duo version of ‘I Talk to the Wind’ in 5.1. This track, much longer than the version mixed in 2009, also features in stereo along with newly mixed versions of other session tracks in stereo and a full set of instrumental mixes. In 2009, Court was one of the earliest of Steven’s 5.1 mixes of albums on which he or his band were not the main artist – along with Lizard & Red & while the King Crimson 5.1 series was, to a large extent, key to the revival of 5.1 for audio – an audio form the major record companies had all but abandoned as a result of the dual format confusion of sacd/dvd-a almost a decade earlier, Court was the one album of the many 5.1 mixes he has successfully undertaken which he wanted to revisit. The 50th anniversary and the first release on Blu-Ray provided just such an opportunity. Nor are these the only new features on the set.
The original studio instrumental take of ‘21st Century Schizoid Man’ has been completely re-imagined & mixed by David Singleton, with the addition of Greg Lake vocals from the later studio sessions at Wessex & contemporary sax & guitar overdubs by Mel Collins & Jakko Jakszyk – providing a link between the original band, the early 1970s line-up and the current band. David Singleton also contributes a mix of ‘Epitaph’ which highlights & isolates Greg’s vocals from the original studio sessions, showing just how spine chilling and powerful that vocal delivery was – an incredibly mature sound for a young man to achieve in his first major studio recording. Among the many tapes newly transferred or being transferred for this (& the forthcoming, much larger, boxed set of Complete 1969 Recordings), was the original tape of the Island released ‘The Court of the Crimson King’ single which had been previously dubbed from a 7” single as a curio. These and many other tracks give a comprehensive overview of one of the classic albums.
The Alternate album appears, quite deliberately, in slightly different track-listings on the Blu-Ray & CD (& on the accompanying double vinyl set). The aim on the Blu-Ray was to provide a fully sequenced listen that closely resembled the original album running order. This was extended on the CD, gathering many of the new mixes on one disc & revised again to make for a satisfying listen on vinyl.