At long last, the newest remix/remaster of this classic album is here!  Steven Wilson and Robert Fripp worked together on a fabulous new mix of the original album and it has exceeded all my quite high expectations.  To cut to the chase, if you are a fan of King Crimson and you were wondering if you should purchase yet another version of this classic album, the answer is you must!  Maybe there is something in the water in 2012 but I have been extremely happy with many of the reissues so far this year and this has to be in my top two or three for sure.  Of course, Thick as a Brick is on its way to me as I write this, so who knows what’s in store, but let’s carry on with this release.

About the new stereo mix:

Hold on to your hats, because the sound is so clear, warm, true, and the detail so precise, that you think that the band is in your listening room with you, I kid you not.  If you are familiar with the album, you know that it can go from whispering percussion, barely audible in the mix, to crunching guitars and bass reminiscent of something Opeth does today.  And all of this is captured so beautifully in exquisite detail.  It is hard to believe we are talking about a recording made in 1973.  In the same way that Wilson brought new life to the recent remixes of Aqualung and the ELPs, Larks’ has been done with the same loving care and you will be thrilled by the results.  Wilson says in the liner notes that he tweaked enough just to give it a bit more punch and that is an understatement!  I can’t see this ever being any better than it is in this edition.

About the 5.1 mix:

Okay, so I was wrong about this ever being any better – this is even more amazing!  Regular readers might recall that I am not in love with 5.1 mixes of my favourite albums.  Nothing against them, but I can give them a pass in favour of stereo.  This surround mix could certainly change my mind.  By increasing space between Jamie Muir’s percussion and Bill Bruford’s drums, the detail that it brings astounded me.  Never mind that the bass and violin are more pronounced, but you hear, perhaps for the first time, the intricacies of Fripp’s playing in more detail than I can ever remember.  In much the same way that a good Classical recording lets you experience the intimacy of the bow on strings, this recording lets you into the inner circle of the musicians like never before.

The extras:

On the CD, you get alternate versions of “Larks’ Tongues in Aspic (Part 1)”, “Book of Saturday”, and “The Talking Drum”.  They have placed a decent pause between the final rack of the album proper and these extra tracks – nicely done and more releases should do the same. These tracks are also well mixed and are worth at least one go.

Besides the 5.1 mix, the DVD also contains a lossless stereo mix, the 30th Anniversary mix and an alternate 5.1 mix of the entire album. You also get four videos, three live in the studio and one from German TV. The performances are one long improvisation, Exiles, and two versions of “Larks’ Tongues… (Part 1)”.

I can highly recommend this set.  I hope that with all his other commitments that Steven Wilson will carry on with the rest of the KC catalogue.

Release Date: November 27, 2012 (US)

–Bob Metcalf