The Great Deceiver, Vol. 2
It may not be in the same form but at the very least it is available again. In 1992, Robert Fripp, in association with Caroline Records, released The Great Deceiver (Live 1973-1974). It was a lavish four-CD box, packaged in a long box with an amazing book that exceeded all previous efforts to document their live offerings. In contrast, the preceding year's Frame by Frame had been a very scant set offering little unissued material, and also included some edits and overdubs of canonical catalog tracks that angered fans. Epitaph, another four-CD collection, was compiled from the group's early live shows in 1969 with rather dodgy sound. The Great Deceiver was the grail in that it documented what most would agree was the classic Crimson lineup: John Wetton, Robert Fripp, Bill Bruford, and David Cross. It went deep and it ran long. And while sound quality was an issue in some places, for the most part it satisfied because it covered their material featured on the band's two greatest albums (before the band re-formed with Adrian Belew and Tony Levin), Larks' Tongue in Aspic and Starless and Bible Black (and a track or two from Red). When the set was deleted it began to command hefty sums among collectors. The music is now back in circulation but with a different presentation -- it's now available as two double-disc sets that retail at a 1998 list price. The first pair of CDs details the concerts from 1973 and part of 1974. The track listing is the same, with the applause and announcements and bits of Fripp & Eno's No Pussyfooting (which had not yet been released ) as walk-on and walk-off music. The sound quality ranges from very good and at times excellent to other times when it's simply very good. It's far above conventional bootleg standards of the time and -- dare it be said -- easily better than any live material the band had issued before in compilation form. In fact, this set sounds cleaned up in many ways from the original box, but there is nothing in the notes to suggest that. The complete performance notes are also included in each collection as well. The only real drawback was the handsome scrapbook that appeared in the box set. To get a look at that you will have to go to the DGM website for a gander, since it is posted in full there. The consolation prize is that even at retail these recordings total a full 30 percent less than the box set did. For anyone interested in King Crimson's groundbreaking mid-'70s period, the music here is absolutely essential listening even with track repetition -- there was so much improvisation going on that every performance is considerably different.