An unfairly lamented album, "Beat" had the incredible misfortune of being the followup to one of the truly great records of its era. Tension abounded as the band sought new directions, and while stories of Fripp storming out of the studio at one point abound, through all this, the most difficult of the three 80s Crimson albums was born.
Named "Beat" as it took its inspiration from the beat poets, nothing shows this quite as clearly as "Neal and Jack and Me"-- an overt reference to Neal Cassidy and Jack Kerouac, filled with a driving beat, guitar pyrotechnics, and a great half shouted vocal from Belew, wrapped in interlocking guitars, its clear things have changed. This is about it for interlocking guitars-- there's a couple funky songs, with driving sort of beats, the instrumental "Sartori in Tangiers" and the frantic paced and crazed "Neurotica", which features a great break that takes the pace down before popping back up in intensity.
This one has no less than three ballads, two of which succeed and one of which ("Two Hands") is pretty much throwaway in my book. Hoewever, "Heartbeat" is a great love song, far and away the most straightforward the band has ever done-- it is however responsible for the opinion that Belew was putting a pop spin on the band, and I suspect if they did it over again, this one may not have made it. "Waiting Man" however is brilliant, featuring syncopated rhythms, a wonderful vocal from Belew, may be the best track on the album.
The album closes on a bizarre note, leaning towards the future in a way-- "The Howler", with its twisted guitars and the instrumental and brutal "Requiem". Full of angst ridden guitars and darkness, this one feels older, timeless in a way, full of the sort of darkness Crimson has been known for over the years-- almost out of place on this one, but one of the great moments of the '80s Crimson.
Its not as good as "Discipline", but "Beat" is a unique and interesting record. Definitely worth checking out.