Gregory S. (helden) from EASTON, PA Reviewed on 1/30/2014...
The good points: This album has a very distinctive musical palette (a lot more horns than I like), and is like nothing else in my catalog. It's very well produced, and the playing is excellent in general, with special kudos to the drummer, Andy McCulloch, who is doing so much more here than most rock drummers do (though, I will say, at times I wish he would have just kept a simple beat; some songs need that).
The bad points: The lead vocalist has an annoying voice; there's virtually nothing that would be called rock on this album; there are way too many jazzy improvs scattered throughout, some quite boring; and it has just too many dead spots in the songwriting in general.
My hats off to them, though, for trying something that few rock bands would attempt.
1) Would have been a lot better if the vocals had more range. 2) Cool jam at the end, but the vocals are annoying. 3) Can barely hear the vocals, and the music is muddled. This song sounds like some vocals were just tossed over a long jazz improvisation. 4) 5) This is 22+ mins long, and is broken into four sections (a-d). The jazz jam in the middle of section "b" is dull and doesn't work with the music that surrounds it. Section "c", titled "The Battle of Glass Tears", has several dead spots throughout it.
Definately a high point in Crimson's career
BENJAMIN MILER | Veneta, Oregon | 04/03/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)
"King Crimson was obviously never known for a steady lineup. They were basically Robert Fripp and whoever he could find at the time. Lizard was released at the end of 1970 on Island Records, but did not appear until the beginning of 1971 here in America on Atlantic Records. Gordon Haskell, who made an appearance on "Cadence & Cascade" from their previous album (In the Wake of Poseidon) now totally filled in Greg Lake's shoes by not only handling vocals but bass duty. Michael Giles was now gone, teamed up with former Crimson bandmate Ian McDonald and recorded and released the McDonald & Giles album. New drummer was Andy McCulloch, who was later a member of Fields (which featured ex-Rare Bird organist Graham Field) and Greenslade. Mel Collins, filling in Ian McDonald's shoes from their previous album, was still on this album, and Pete Sinfield still providing lyrics. They also included a horn section that was taken from Soft Machine's Third-era lineup. This was one of the rare Crimson albums to use a synthesizer, as you'll hear some EMS VCS-3 synth on some of the cuts. The Mellotron is just as present as ever, so tron fans will not be disappointed.
The band realized they could no longer clone earlier releases (In the Wake of Poseidon was frequently criticized as being a clone of In the Court of the Crimson King), so they moved on to new ground. The Mellotron-heavy symphonic sound is still present as ever, and of course you will not mistake Gordon Haskell's singing for Greg Lake, but adding horns and arranging the songs not to resemble previous recordings really benefitted the band big time. "Cirkus" is the opening cut, in quite dramatic fashion, with some great Mellotron work. "Indoor Games" is a more upbeat number with humorous elements. "Happy Family" is interesting for the use of electronically modified voices. The side-length title track features Jon Anderson on vocals. It's to my understanding that Jon Anderson wanted Robert Fripp to replace Peter Banks in Yes around this time, but didn't happen (Steve Howe got the part, and well, all was history with Yes, they got bigger). Anderson basically left the Yes sound at home on this cut, sticking instead to the Crimson sound. There's some passages where the band explores bolero, and the horn section alternates between more jazzy and more Spanish-influenced passages.
One thing for certain about King Crimson, their albums are not always the easiest to get in to, and Lizard is no exception. This was the album that left the rock critics scratching their heads, many of them weren't exactly kind to this album. But after several listens it really grew on me, and this album comes highly recommended."
A controversial album, judging from the range of ratings!
Bourbeau | Ann Arbor, MI United States | 04/21/2007
(3 out of 5 stars)
"King Crimson's third album has obviously generated strong opinions on both sides of the chart, but I've said it before and I'll say it again: King Crimson records are some of the most well-produced and well-arranged albums ever made. Let me first cite some if the album's strengths. The production is an audiophiles wet dream - very expansive, textured, and panoramic. This cd sounds GREAT on a great stereo! K.C. always had great, jazz-oriented drummers and they were very well recorded. Tom toms, kick drum, and bass guitar have an especially deep ambience on "Lizard," and mellotrons, guitars, and horns cut through this ambience with piercing sonic talons. The overall sound of the album is dynamic and creepy. Gordon Haskell's vocals are somewhat grotesque and ghoulish (this may be part of the reason so many people dislike this record) but they work very well with most of this material. The acoustic guitar playing on "Cirkus" is very very good, and "Happy Family" has a great jazz-rock feel. Unfortunately, the "concept" the album pursues fails to hold my attention for very long. I briefly wonder about the "meaning" of all the recurring themes, but the hypnotic instrumental passages don't have me wondering too long, and as side two carries on and on, I begin to think about what cd I will put on next. The trouble with the "concept album" is that if it's not a very defined concept and there isn't enough strong lyrical material that is graspable within a reasonable amount of time, the listener's mind begins to wander. It's very difficult to just pull one or two of the best songs out of context and enjoy them for their full value, but at the same time it's difficult to sit through this entire album on a regular basis. This is more of a musician's record. If you "produce" or "arrange" music, you should definately check this one out. If you came upon King Crimson because you are into Bowie and Eno, you might think this album is a bit too Dungeons & Dragons."
A couple of thoughts
Leila Sobin, China Trader | Boston MA USA | 02/16/2009
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Lizard was for years and years my favorite album. It has always been my favorite King Crimson. Actually, I stumbled upon this band at the Boston Teaparty opening up for Al Kooper, months before The Court of the Crimson King came out in this country.
What I want to say is this-- if you love Lizard you will also like McDonald and Giles. They were in the earliest Crimson, then left and put out this one album. Listen to it."