Lizard (23:22)

Cover of Lizard

From Lizard

“Lizard” is the longest composed (as distinct from improvised) piece ever recorded by King Crimson. This piece is divided into several sections and even subsections, with a narrative running through its entirety, about a prince who takes part in an epic battle. The track’s grandiloquence verges on (self-) parody.

Lizard’s opening section, “Prince Rupert Awakes”, features Jon Anderson (from Yes) in his only ever contribution to a King Crimson recording. This section of the track alternates between sincere and ethereal verses, and an amusingly folksy chorus accompanied by handclaps. The two styles are then combined in a rousing, worldless chorale, that segues into the track’s next section, “Bolero”.

“Bolero” provides a showcase for the talents of supporting musicians Tippett, Miller, Charig, and Evans. Playing over McCulloch’s bolero-like drum part, they are given the space to develop progressively more jazzy solos around a central theme. When this section of “Lizard” was excerpted from the whole, for inclusion on the compilation Frame by Frame: The Essential King Crimson, Gordon Haskell’s bass guitar was replaced with a part recorded by the later King Crimson bassist Tony Levin.

As “Bolero” comes to a halt, it is followed by “Dawn Song”, the first of three subsections that comprise “The Battle of Glass Tears”. “Dawn Song” opens with an ominous theme led by Robin Miller, which is then joined by a subdued vocal sung by Haskell. The next subsection of “The Battle of Glass Tears”, “Last Skirmish”, is arguably the instrumental high point of the Lizard album.

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Farewell the temple master's bells
His kiosk and his black worm seed
Courtship solely of his word
With Eden guaranteed

MetroLyrics Full lyrics at MetroLyrics

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