Review from Modern Drummer

King Crimson

Epitaph (Discipline)


drummer: Michael Giles

with Robert Fripp (gtr) Greg Lake (bs, vcl) Ian McDonald (kybd, sx, fl, vcl)

Pete Sinfield (light show, lyricist)

This is a very important recording for drummers interested not only in the roots of Crimson, but of progressive rock and jazz/rock fusion. From a drumming point of view, there is monumental achievement and discovery on Epitaph, a double CD box set featuring live and studio tracks including the very first (May ’69) and last (Dec.’69) recordings of Crimson’s first incarnation.

The live concert recordings are where drummer Michael Giles is spectacular. His feel and guidance of this innovative and challenging music is commanding. His loose precision and creative attitude reminds one of the late Tony Williams, and his vicious spark, most evident on “A Man A City” and the classic “21st Century Schizoid Man,” suggests Vinnie Colaiuta.

Crimson leader Robert Fripp says that “In 1969 Michael was arguably the most exciting and original drummer in rock, and in  a world class. I never knew him to play badly.” But Giles was not just a “rock” drummer. The tracks “Travel Weary Capricorn,” “Drop In,” and “Get Thy Bearings” are straight ahead avant-garde jazz pieces, with Giles showing the poise and grace of a seasoned swing player while structuring his original technique for the jazz/rock fusion styles of today.

Unafraid to embellish but never overplaying, Michael Giles’ authoritative performances on these almost-thirty-year-old recordings is a fresh reminder that artistic drumming defies category, and is a timeless pleasure to inspire the veteran as well as the novice.

(Discipline Mail Order: PO Box 1533, Salisbury,Wiltshire SP5 5ER, England)

Mike Haid

Modern Drummer – September 1997