Now I really love and respect King Crimson, and I consider them the best and purest progressive rock band of all time - ahead of my sentimental favorite, Yes, and Genesis, who might have been the greatest if they hadn't jumped the shark by becoming an extension of Phil Collins' solo career. And despite the sonic excellence of Adrian Belew-era Crimson (1981-present), I much prefer the various 1969-1974 incarnations. During this era, Crimson basically invented progressive rock with their first album, re-invented it with "Larks' Tongues in Aspic," and perfected it with "Red."
Against this stellar body of work, "Lizard" sticks out like a sore thumb. Every year or so, I pull it out of my collection to give it another chance. And for a brief moment, when the ominous Mellotron of "Cirkus" kicks in, I think I'm about to be proven wrong. But the rest of "Lizard" is darn near unlistenable, hampered by subpar production values, Gordon Haskell's tentative and unfocused singing, and undisciplined, chaotic instrumentation. Haskell's ridiculous laugh at the end of "Indoor Games" must qualify as the most embarrassing moment in Crimson's history. The instrumentals are meandering and often just plain noisy, with none of the improvisational prowess that marks the Bruford/Wetton era. Even a guest vocal by Jon Anderson is wasted. If Robert Fripp's intent was to produce music that sounds like it emanated from hell, he succeeded all too well.
Fripp himself dismisses "Lizard" in current interviews. Take his word for it. Unless you're a Crimson completist or a masochist, pass on this one. Your ears will thank you!