As Robert Fripp had done with King Crimson's first live LP, Earthbound (1972), USA (1974) is a single-disc concert package documenting the quartet during its most concurrent swing through North America. As with its predecessor, USA was also issued as a sonic cenotaph of the concurrently defunct Krim…
They say good things come in small packages. By seamlessly joining an audience recording of In The Court to Michael Giles’ own cassette of the gig at the first night of the Fillmore East (which had been missing the bulk of that song), DGM have faithfully recreated a small slice of KC history - now audible for the first time since the gig some 37 years ago although the majority of this show will be familiar to anyone who has the KCCC25. A tired Ian McDonald records in his 1969 dairy that the band had spent the previous day rehearsing Pictures Of A City ('A Man A City') and ran through it on the afternoon of the 21st just to nail down the arrangements.
From cautious beginnings Improv II quickly expands into lolloping beast of a track providing what is arguably the best set-up to Exiles to date. As Cross and Wetton hurl fuzzed lines across the stage over one of Bruford’s slow-burning jazz vamps, Fripp introduces one sustained note that lasts somewhere in the region of 37 seconds. An object lesson in making a little go a long way.
Though this particular line-up were edging closer to oblivion, listening to this full show 30 years after the event, the energy levels are astounding. In his journal from the time RF described the show as "Tired. Lifeless. Lacklustre” Maybe Fripp’s estimation of the gig was informed by his recovering from mild food poisoning, the cumulative effect of prunes and a boil in his ear! It seems nobody was happy this particular night. Sound engineer George Chkaintz had trouble with the sound in the recording truck, roadie Tex is frightened to turn down Wetton’s amp despite the discreet urgings of other members of the band and crew, Fripp is giving tour manager Dik Frasier grie, and the promoter isn’t best pleased because the band haven’t done an encore!
This is King Crimson’s first performance in front of a crowd since they had wowed the punters at Le Spectrum (documented on Absent Lovers) back in 1984. Essentially a dress rehearsal in front of invited guests and the South American press, the tickets that had been made available sold out in two hours flat.
Ever wanted to know what happens after the edit on the storming Asbury Park or the fade out on that contemplative solo on Easy Money? Well now you can find out! Presented uncut for the very first time using unreleased mixes from the multitracks without Eddie Jobson overdubs (as on USA), the power of this gig is tangible. Despite the internal politics and tensions of the period, the band taps into a ferocious energy that never stops burning.