King Crimson Songs Ranked

King Crimson is an English progressive rock band formed in London in 1968. King Crimson has been influential both in the early 1970s progressive rock movement and many contemporary artists. Although the band has undergone numerous formations throughout its history, Robert Fripp is the only constant member of the group and is considered the band’s leader and driving force. The band has earned a large cult following. They were ranked No. 87 on VH1’s 100 Greatest Artists of Hard Rock. Although considered to be a seminal progressive rock band (a genre characterized by extended instrumental sections and complex song structures), they have often distanced themselves from the genre: as well as influencing several generations of progressive and psychedelic rock bands, they have also been an influence on subsequent alternative metal, hardcore and experimental/noise musicians. In 1981, King Crimson reformed with another change in musical direction and instrumentation (incorporating, for the first time, a mixture of British and American personnel plus doubled guitar and influences taken from gamelan, post-punk, and New York minimalism). This lasted for three years, resulting in the trio of albums Discipline (1981), Beat (1982), and Three of a Perfect Pair (1984). Following a decade-long hiatus, Fripp revived the group as an expanded “Double Trio” sextet in 1994, mingling its mid-‘70s and 1980s approaches with new creative options available via MIDI technology. This resulted in another three-year cycle of activity including the release of Thrak (1995). King Crimson reunited again in 2000 as a more alternative metal-oriented quartet (or “Double Duo”), releasing The Construction of Light in 2000 and The Power to Believe in 2003: after further personnel shuffles, the band expanded to a double-drummer quintet for a 2008 tour celebrating their 40th anniversary. Following another hiatus between 2009 and 2012, King Crimson reformed once again in 2013; this time as a septet (and, later, octet) with an unusual three-drumkit frontline and the return of saxophone/flute to the lineup for the first time since 1972. This current version of King Crimson has continued to tour and to release live albums, significantly rearranging and reinterpreting music from across the band’s entire previous career. Here are all King Crimson songs ranked.

Listen and enjoy the music of King Crimson. Click below as you relive the songs of the hottest English rock band.

20. The Night Watch (The Night Watch, 1997)

“Beautifully constructed medieval-sounding lyrics and my favorite guitar solo (so far, at least) from king crimson. The only problem is how short it is. Lasting only 4 minutes, you just don’t want it to end. If they had combined this with fracture or at least added some of Crimsons great instrumental work than hands down this would be my favorite song by them.”

19. The Great Deceiver (The Great Deceiver, 1992)

“Power drives its way through the synapses of your brains and tells an interesting Marjoe Gartner-Type tale uncompromisingly. Actually one of the most impressive KC riffs ever – damn fast, catchy, well-constructed”

18. Fracture (Starless and Bible Black, 1974)

“The greatest example of how technically advanced music can show great emotion. This is probably Fripp’s best guitar work, Wetton’s best bass work and undoubtedly Bruford and Cross’ best work. They all combine to create a psychotic masterpiece that does exactly everything the music requires; no more, no less. Considering it was all done live in one take with Fripp’s guitar as the only “written” part makes this even more astonishing.”

17. Exiles (Larks’ Tongues in Aspic, 1973)

“This song is absolutely beautiful in every way. I don’t know why but I always compare it to Starless but I actually much prefer it. Fripp’s guitar solo gives me chills and the Melotron is so haunting but the song always has a hopefulness about it. Few King crimson songs are actually uplifting and happy and this along with Islands are my two favorites that fit that description. The flute, the violin, everything just works perfectly in this song and it’s so sad how people just look over this one.”

See more: King Crimson Albums Ranked

16. Cirkus (Lizard, 1970)

“Perhaps the single most underrated KC track and the point where Fripp began shining as a composer, slipping out from under the shadow of the early Ian McDonald-dominated KC songwriting, combined with an insanely cool Sinfield lyric and fabulous performances. Boz’s vocals on the slightly later live versions was an interesting contrast to Haskell’s strident style on the Lizard recording.”

15. Moonchild (In the Court of the Crimson King, 1969)

“The most underrated song from the greatest prog album of all time, such a beautiful melody followed by tender lyrics, the perfect lullaby.”

14. Larks’ Tongues In Aspic (Part Two) (Larks’ Tongues in Aspic, 1973)

“Best instrumental by the band, in my opinion. Shifts and changes genres and sounds all throughout the song. So iconic it reappeared some way or another in other albums”

13. Dinosaur (Thrak, 1995)

“The solo in the middle when every thing is quite make me feel like watching the discovery of dinosaur with black and white screen or retro screen. This song’s rhythm is also nice.”

12. Fallen Angel (The Road to Red, 1974)

“Surprisingly heartfelt, impressionistic Palmer-James lyrics with hints of a Beatles influence both melodically and in terms of the guitar arpeggios. A great change of pace. Fallen Angel is probably my favorite king crimson song, with its amazing combination of classic soft rock followed by a transition to what I can only describe as metal.”

11. Islands (Islands, 1971)

“The best example of prog-meets-classical music you can find on King Crimson. Marvellous Pete Sinfield lyrics. Islands (the album) is one of the most underrated of KC’s albums, perhaps because of an unbalanced line-up, but its complex harmonies and weird influences (ranging from Mahler to the Beatles) make it a very rewarding listen.”

10. Lizard (Lizard, 1970)

“This song really takes me to another place, from the beginning with Joe Andersons part til the last circus alike part. All the jazzy improvisation in the middle comes from a beautiful melody and suddenly turns into really dark and weird music. I just love this song”

9. Red (Red, 1974)

“To listen to Red is to view an important stepping stone for modern-day progressive rock and metal. Driving, raw, and incredibly composed – it’s possibly the best song of KC’s career. Only King Crimson can rival Metallica for the greatest instrumentals of all time.”

8. In the Wake of Poseidon (In the Wake of Poseidon, 1970)

“Goose bumps every time Poseidon appears. The sound is barely audible at auditory threshold, but can be perceived all over the body. Dynamic as it’s used to be.”

7. One More Red Nightmare (The Road to Red, 1974)

“The interlude is so beautifully constructed in its complexity. Full of great rhythmic ideas throughout the song. Bruford’s fills in the second half are brilliant!”

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6. I Talk to the Wind (In the Court of the Crimson King, 1969)

“This is really a GREAT song! But it takes some great listening. This one goes deep. Such understated beauty and some of the most lyrical, lovely flute and guitar passages on any KC album.”

5. Larks’ Tongues in Aspic (Part One) (Larks’ Tongues in Aspic, 1971)

“KC’s world-beating rock improvisation honed into a scintillating avant-garde melange of madness, beauty and crazy Jamie Muir’s visionary percussion/allsorts lunacy. This one is a thrilling journey! So inventive, and yet coherent and by moments strangely moving! Those improvised percussions are just awesome!”

4. The Court of the Crimson King (In the Court of the Crimson King, 1969)

“This song is not like any other songs in recent history. It is so gloomy and impressively represents the band’s name which is The Crimson King who apparently is lord Satan. All in all, KC is the most underrated group of its time and skill in making this form of European jazzy music.”

3. 21st Century Schizoid Man (In the Court of the Crimson King, 1969)

“This is just a brilliant song. So much soul was clearly fed into this track. The sax solo, the bizarre lyrics, the pulsating guitar riff, the disorientating drums. Everything about this song just screams brilliance.”

2. Epitaph (In the Court of the Crimson King, 1969)

“This one is one of my all time favorite music compositions. And that includes ALL music that I like (rock, classical, etc.). This one is a work of sheer genius. The drums, the mellotron, the vocals, everything is perfect in setting the mood. Yes, awe-inspiring and terrifying!”

1. Starless (The Road to Red, 1974)

“The magnum opus of the entire progressive genre and one of the best songs ever composed. From the very first note, you are hypnotized, drawn completely into the track. The melody is haunting, unsettling, extremely melancholic, and unbelievably beautiful. The music during the first three verses feels so delicate and fragile, then it breaks into the instrumental section and become a fierce and heavy piece, unpredictable and existing, with both rock, jazz, classical, and even metal elements. It’s a roller coaster ride. But that outro. Simply put, the best ending to any song ever. It reprises the first melody in the most epic way you can think of. The base, the mellotron play in sheer orchestral fashion, then it ends. Those last moments of music remain unparalleled by anything I’ve ever heard in any other song. Masterful is an understatement.”