King Crimson: Adrian Belew (vocals, fretted & fretless guitar, synthesizer); Robert Fripp (guitar, synthesizer); Tony Levin (electric bass, Chapman Stick, synthesizer, background vocals); Bill Bruford (acoustic & electric drums).
After spending the second half of the '70s on various solo projects, the irrepressible Robert Fripp decided to reinvent King Crimson. Instead of building on the group's '70s legacy, Fripp burned his bridges and started from scratch, even though KC drummer Bill Bruford returned to the fold for the '80s version of the band. The new Crimson was influenced equally by funk, world music, Balinese Gamelan orchestras, minimalism and the new pan-cultural sounds being made by the likes of Talking Heads and Peter Gabriel (in retrospect, the former's REMAIN IN LIGHT, which featured future Crimson guitarist/vocalist Adrian Belew, seems an undeniable influence).
THREE OF A PERFECT PAIR ended the band's '80s trilogy in a logical fashion. One of the trademarks of Crimson from 1969 onward was drastic dynamic shifts and the juxtaposition of daring, experimental excursions with appealingly melodic "pop" ballads. These two strands of Crimson's sound are presented in sharp contrast here. The first half of the album consists of quirky-but-catchy Belew-dominated songs, on which the band's unconventional sensibilities work in the service of relatively traditional song structures. The second half is a largely improvisational free-for-all, with the band flexing its collective improvisational might. The spirit of LARK'S TONGUES IN ASPIC is recalled so strongly here that KC closes the album with "Lark's Tongues in Aspic Part III."