King Crimson - VROOM VROOOM (2001)

For a band which released only one studio album (Thrak) , there's an awful lot of material by the double trio available, especially if you count the ProjeKcts. This double set gives a good selection of live versions of 90s material, updated versions of older material, some improv and a cover version thrown in for good measure. King Crimson has always come alive on stage, and these 2 discs show just how powerful they can be when they're firing on all cylinders.

The two discs were recorded during concerts in Mexico City (disc 1) and New York (disc 2). Somewhat confusingly disc 1 was recorded 9 months after disc 2, which means that the band sounds slightly less polished on disc 2 if you listen to them in order. Although they were drawing on the same repertoire for these shows, only one piece (THRAK) crops up twice.

Disc 1 sees the mighty Crim beast launch a non stop, no holds barred assault on their audience, 60 minutes of the kind of high intensity few other bands can deliver. The first five selections come from Thrak, including a storming version of Dinosaur with Belew in fine voice. This is followed by a blast from the past as they give us The Talking Drum and LTIA II, with Bruford and Mastelotto almost matching the Muir/Bruford partnership for manic interplay. Neurotica is another bravura vocal from Belew, a white knuckle ride on a piledriving rhythm that constantly threatens to fall apart but somehow holds together. Two other oldies get the double trio makeover; Red, which sounds a bit messy compared to the version on Absent Lovers, and a nu-metal reworking of 21st Century Schizoid Man which works surprisingly well once you get over the initial shock.

Disc 2 is a slightly looser affair which draws mainly on Thrak and the 80s albums. The 80s material is reworked by the expanded line up to great effect, especially Elephant Talk which gives Gunn and Levin an opportunity to trade licks at lightning speed. Indiscipline shows the bands mastery of wildly fluctuating dynamics and stop/start rhythms, while the gentler songs show that the double trio was also capable of great subtlety and restraint, particularly the the closer, Walking on Air. An unexpected surprise is a cover version of the Beatles Free as a Bird, which was released at the time of these concerts. Belew does a remarkably fine job as a Lennon impersonator, and you can hear the band and audience audibly cracking smiles during this performance.

Vroom Vroom is a great Crimson live album which sits well alongside The Night Watch and Absent Lovers, although of the three it is probably the least essential. It gives a good overview of a remarkable band in full flight. - Review by Syzygy (Chris Gleeson)

Track Listings

Disc 1: 59:44
VROOOM VROOOM - Live In Mexico City

2. Coda: Marine 475 (2:44)
3. Dinosaur (5:05)
4. B'Boom (4:51)
5. THRAK (6:39)
6. The Talking Drum (4:03)
7. Larks' Tongues In Aspic Part II (6:13)
8. Neurotica (3:40)
9. Prism (4:24)
10. Red (7:03)
11. Improv: Biker Babes Of The Rio Grande (2:27)
12. 21st Century Schizoid Man (7:37)
Disc 2: 68:43
ON BROADWAY - Live In New York City
1. Conundrum (1:57)
2. Thela Hun Ginjeet (6:44)
3. Frame By Frame (5:12)
4. People (6:12)
5. One Time (5:52)
6. Sex Sleep Eat Drink Dream (4:55)
7. Indiscipline (7:16)
8. Two Sticks (1:50)
9. Elephant Talk (5:14)
10. Three Of A Perfect Pair (4:16)
11. B'Boom (3:47)
12. THRAK (6:43)
13. Free As A Bird (3:03)
14. Walking On Air (5:35)

Total Time: 128:37

- Robert Fripp / guitar, soundscapes
- Adrian Belew / guitar, voice
- Trey Gunn / Warr touch guitar
- Tony Levin / basses, Stick
- Pat Mastelotto / acoustic drums, electronic drums, percussion
- Bill Bruford / acoustic drums, electronic drums, percussion
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