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King Crimson - Islands (1971)
Cover Front Album
Artist King Crimson
Length 44:04
Format CD
Genre Rock
Label EG Records
Collection Status In Collection
Track List
01 Formentera Lady 10:15
02 Sailor's Tale 07:34
03 The Letters 04:32
04 Ladies Of The Road 05:35
05 Prelude: Song Of The Gulls 04:14
06 Islands 11:54
Personal Details
Price £13.32
Store Holland
Rating 9
Spars DDD
Rare No
Sound Stereo
King Crimson - Producer
Harry Miller - Bass, String Bass
Marc Charig - Cornet
Keith Tippett - Piano, Keyboards
Robin Miller - Oboe
Boz - Bass, Guitar (Bass), Vocals, Choreographer
Boz Burrell - Bass, Vocals
Mel Collins - Flute, Flute (Bass), Saxophone, Vocals
Robert Ellis - Photography
Robert Fripp - Guitar, Harmonium, Keyboards, Mellotron, Mastering, Remastering, Pedals
Paulina Lucas - Soprano, Vocals, Soprano (Vocal)
Obin Miller - Wind
Peter Sinfield - Lyricist, Speech/Speaker/Speaking Part, Sounds, Cover Design, Vision Control, Cover Painting
Ian Wallace - Percussion, Drums, Vocals
Tony Arnold - Mastering
Simon Heyworth - Remastering
Andy Hendrikson - Engineer
Mike - Equipment Technician
Vick - Equipment Technician

AMG EXPERT REVIEW: The weakest Crimson studio album from their first era is only a real disappointment in relation to the extraordinarily high quality of the group's earlier efforts. Ironically, Islands was cut by the most stable lineup in the group's early history; this band, featuring Mel Collins on saxes and flute, Boz Burrell on bass and vocals, and Ian Wallace on drums, actually lasted long enough to do a couple of tours.

For many fans, Islands represented the new and definitive King Crimson when they finally got to see the band they'd been hearing about for a couple of years, but which never seemed to stay together long enough to get onto a stage and play. The songs are somewhat uneven and draw from three years of inspiration. "The Letter" is an adaptation of "Drop In", a group composition that was featured in the early set of the original Crimson lineup from 1969 (available on The Collector's King Crimson, Volume 1), while "Song of the Gulls" goes back to the pre-King Crimson trio of Giles, Giles & Fripp for its source ("Suite No. 1").

There are also a few surprises, such as the Beatles-like harmonies on the raunchy "Ladies of the Road" and the extraordinary interweaving of electric guitar and Mellotron by Robert Fripp on "A Sailor's Tale, which is one of the highlights of the early- to mid-period group's output. Some of the music overstays its welcome several of the six tracks are extended too far, out of the need to fill up an LP but the virtuosity of the band picks up most of the slack on the composition side: Collins' saxes and Wallace's drums keep things much more than interesting in tandem with Fripp's guitar and Mellotron, and guest vocalist Paulina Lucas's keening accompaniment carries parts of "Formentera Lady" that might otherwise have dragged.
Islands originally appeared with two different covers, because Atlantic Records in the U.S. chose to use the design from the interior of the British jacket as the exterior of its version and dropped the U.K. release's astronomical image. The CD history of the album isn't outstanding: The JEM Records version suffered from muddy sound and low volume, and the early-'90s Caroline Records re-release corrected many of those problems but accidentally cut off of the extended outro at the end of the title track.

In March of 2000, Virgin Records (with Caroline distributing in the U.S.) released a 24-bit digitally remastered CD that finally captured the original intact. [The first pressing of the Virgin CD recreates the original gatefold jacket from the LP and includes a special insert booklet containing reprinted articles and other information about this period in the band's history.]

Bruce Eder