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Islands (Cd/5.1 Dvd-A)
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Audio DVD, Audiobook, CD, 22 November 2010
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- Is Discontinued By Manufacturer : No
- Product Dimensions : 13.11 x 14.3 x 1.5 cm; 134.09 Grams
- Manufacturer : ADA
- Item Model Number : 15063192
- Original Release Date : 2010
- Label : ADA
- ASIN : B003XTUZIM
- Number of discs : 2
- Best Sellers Rank: 8,654 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)
- Customer Reviews:
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The classic album has been mixed for 5.1 surround sound from the original studio masters by Steve Wilson and is fully approved by Crimson founder Robert Fripp. Almost 90 minutes of bonus material- mostly unreleased including a full "Alternate Album", rehearsal takes, live material, studio sessions and material mixed for the first time in this release. The DVD-A features a 5.1 DTS Mix and High Resolution Stereo mixes and features both the original album mix and the new album mix in High Resolution stereo.
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`Islands' was released in December 1971, exactly one year after `Lizard'. This was the final studio release from the Fripp-Sinfield era, before Bob Fripp reconstituted the band in 1973 and ushered in the great Bruford-Wetton period.
For `Islands', Boz Burrell took over on bass and vocals; a gutsier & more powerful singer than Gordon Haskell, & adequate-but-not-great bass player who Fripp taught the entire KC repertoire note-for-note. Ian Wallace (suggested to Fripp by Keith Emerson in whose house Wallace was living at the time) played drums. Collins, Fripp & Sinfield formed the remainder of the line-up, unchanged since the `Poseidon' project. A number of other musicians join the party, including once again Keith Tippett on piano, plus Robin & Harry Miller & Mark Charig on various wind instruments.
The original album:
Overall `Islands' is more of a jazz-rock album than `Lizard' but with an odd mix of just 6 songs, 2 of them purely instrumental. The theme running through the album is of islands & the sea, kicking off with the laid-back `Formentera Lady' evoking a languid summer love affair on a Mediterranean island; a slow cello starts things off, over which flute & Tippett's piano cadences lead into the main theme with other instruments gradually joining the party. `Sailor's Tale' follows, purely instrumental with a jazz-fusion feel and the whole band on top form, a perennial live-gig favourite for the band during this era which builds from a quiet start to a crescendo climax. `The Letters' is a dark song about a betrayed wife being taunted by her husband's lover in poison-pen letters, with great musical dynamics, screeching electric guitar from Fripp & powerful singing from Boz. 'Ladies of the Road' is a funky-jazz number about life on the road with groupies, with what would now be seen as highly misogynistic lyrics, some great sax playing from Mel Collins and a hilarious `guitar orgasm' from Fripp! `Prelude - Song of the Gulls' is another instrumental number with the melody provided by a soprano sax over orchestral strings, and the closer `Islands' rounds off the album with a laid-back oboe over mellotron, great sax from Collins & another fine vocal line from Boz.
The 40th Anniversary offering.
As with other Steven Wilson KC releases in this series, a CD plus audio-only DVD are presented in a gatefold sleeve decorated with the original album cover artwork, radio-telescope images of the Crab Nebula (in a genuine crimson colour). A 16-page colour booklet with all song lyrics, archive photos & story behind the music, written by Bob Fripp and Crimson biographer Sid Smith, completes the package.
The DVD is the star of the show with the music offered in MLP Lossless 5.1 surround, DTS 5.1 digital surround, MLP Lossless stereo & PCM stereo 2.0. The DVD graphics are easy-on-the-eye & the menu easy to navigate. On the DVD you get:
* the 2010 stereo mix
* the original album
* a stereo 16/48 `Alternate Album' including previously unreleased `A Peacemaking Stint Unrolls'
* a section called `Routes to Islands' tracing the development of the music including the Islands line-up of the band rehearsing `Pictures of a City'
* Several additional studio takes of `Ladies of the Road' & `Formentera Lady'
Fripp and Wilson have once again produced a fine package, this time with even more extra material than usual. If you're a KC fan, buying this package should be a no-brainer: it will likely be the ultimate, all-time definitive `Islands.'
The surround 5.1 mix transforms the album relative to the vinyl - spacious, with all the quiet bits crystal clear and the loud bits splendid, an engrossing, open listening experience. This was never my preferred KC line up (I saw them in Hyde Park in 1971) and the truly dreadful rehearsal tracks here as DVD extras make it all the more remarkable that a passable album emerged at all. The plethora of extras are perhaps for KC academics (how many versions of a song do you need?) but 'A Peacemaking Stint Unrolls' (previously unreleased) featuring motifs that took a better KC band to realise later on is of interest along with live tracks 'The Letters' and 'Sailor's Tale' which show how far the Islands line up had progressed.
The CD is fine with some bonus tracks (including 'A Peacemaking Stint Unrolls') but as with other releases in the series the surround sound on the DVD is the main event, Steven Wilson again proving his credentials in the mixing
Why get this version? Well, the CD sounds pretty good but, if you have a way to play it, the 24-bit DVD version takes it to another level.
This is a very odd record. It was my introduction, as a rock fan, to the wonderfully subtle and inventive playing of jazzers, notably pianist Keith Tippett and cornettist Marc Charig on the title track. The lyrics, from Pete Sinfield, are very much a matter of taste (some would say lack of it).
At times sublime, at others raucous, you'll never mistake this album for anything else.