In the Wake of Poseidon is the second studio album by the progressive rock group King Crimson. By the time this album was released, the band had already undergone their first change in line-up. However, they still maintained much of the personnel and style of their first album, In the Court of the Crimson King. Also like their first album, the mood of this album often changes from serene to chaotic.


Ian McDonald and Michael Giles left the band following their first American tour in 1969. Greg Lake was the next member to leave, after being approached by Keith Emerson to join what would become Emerson, Lake & Palmer in early 1970. This left Robert Fripp as the only remaining musician in the band, taking on part of the keyboard-playing role in addition to guitar. To compensate, Peter Sinfield increased his own creative role and began developing his interest in synthesisers for use on subsequent records.

Lake agreed to sing on the recordings for In the Wake of Poseidon (negotiating to receive King Crimson's PA equipment as payment). Eventually, he ended up singing on the band's early 1970 single "Cat Food" b/w "Groon" and on all but one of the album’s vocal tracks. The exception was "Cadence and Cascade", which was sung by Fripp's old schoolfriend and teenage bandmate Gordon Haskell. There does exist however, an early mix of the song with Lake singing a guide vocal which was unearthed and featured on the DGM site as a download. At one point, the band considered hiring the then-unknown Elton John to be the album's singer, but decided against it. Other former members and associates returned – as session players only – for the Poseidon recordings, with all bass parts being handled by Peter Giles and Michael Giles drumming. Mel Collins (formerly of the band Circus) contributed saxophones and flute. Another key performer was jazz pianist Keith Tippett, who became an integral part of King Crimson's sound for the next few records (although Fripp offered him full band membership, Tippett preferred to remain as a studio collaborator and only performed live with the band once).

On 25 March 1970, the line up of Fripp, Lake, Tippett, Mike and Peter Giles taped a mimed performance of the single version of "Cat Food" for the following night's broadcast of BBCTV's Top Of The Pops. It was to be King Crimson's sole British TV appearance until 1981. This footage has long since been wiped, though several photographs taken backstage and of the dress rehearsal do exist.

With the album on sale, Fripp and Sinfield remained in the awkward position of having King Crimson material and releases available, but not having a band to play it. Fripp persuaded Gordon Haskell to join permanently as singer and bass player, and recruited drummer Andy McCulloch, another Dorset musician moving in the West London progressive rock circle, who had previously been a member of Shy Limbs (alongside Greg Lake, who recommended him to Fripp) and Manfred Mann's Earth Band. Mel Collins was also retained as a full band member.

The album opens with an a cappella piece called "Peace – A Beginning", which is reprised instrumentally in the middle of the album and vocally again at the end. The strongly jazz fusion-influenced "Pictures of a City" was originally performed live, often extended to over ten minutes and was called "A Man. A City". An example of such a performance can be found on the live album Epitaph.

The longest track on the album is a chaotic instrumental piece called "The Devil’s Triangle", which was built around quotations from Gustav Holst's "Mars: Bringer of War" from his The Planets Suite. King Crimson would have called the piece "Mars", as they had performed it on tour in the 1969 line-up, but were forbidden by the composer's legal estate. In 1971, a brief excerpt from "The Devil’s Triangle" was featured on the BBC television series Doctor Who. Also, the track samples the chorus from "The Court of the Crimson King", the title track from the band's first album, a studio technique known as xenochrony.

Album coverEdit

The work is called The 12 Archetypes or The 12 Faces of Humankind. The colour pictures were painted by Tammo De Jongh in 1967.[4][5]

The twelve faces in the picture are as follows:

  1. The Fool (Fire and Water): The laughing man with a wispy beard.
  2. The Actress (Water and Fire): The Egyptian girl with long pearl earrings and many pearl necklaces around her neck, she has tears in her eyes.
  3. The Observer (Air and Earth): A scientist type person with round spectacles pushed up above his brow, mostly bald head with white hair at the sides; his left hand is held up to his chin, he looks thoughtful.
  4. The Old Woman (Earth and Air): A woman with much wrinkled face wrapped up against the cold.
  5. The Warrior (Fire and Earth): A dark and powerful warrior's face in blacks and reds. He wears a steel helmet, broad square face, open mouth with square teeth and a full black beard.
  6. The Slave (Earth and Fire): A black African with large gold earrings and a ring through her nose; the lips are full and pink, the eyes half-closed, sultry and sensuous; the expression is warm and friendly.
  7. The Child (Water and Air): A picture of innocence; a girl with delicate sweet smile and butterfly shaped bows at each side in her long golden hair; her eyes are large and watery and she has a delicate sweet smile on her mouth. She wears a gold chain, on the end of which is a small golden key.
  8. The Patriarch (Air and Water): An old philosopher, with a long face and long white hair and long white beard and moustache; white bushy eyebrows; all around are shapes like flowers or snowflakes; the brow is furrowed upwards from the nose in a fan-like fashion.
  9. The Logician (Air and Fire): A scientist or wizard type man with long face, dark hair and long dark beard; he appears to hold a long stick or wand with his right hand and his left is held aloft and surrounded by stars.
  10. The Joker (Fire and Air): The picture in bright reds and yellows is of a smiling twinkle-eyed Harlequin with his typical gold-stuccoed, triangular hat.
  11. The Enchantress (Water and Earth): A sad girl with watery eyes ; her long dark hair is blown sideways across her face and brow from right to left.
  12. Mother Nature (Earth and Water): Lying asleep in the long grass; their face in silhouette is viewed from the left side and all around are the flowers and butterflies.


In the Wake of Poseidon was well received on release. It was praised as having a overall better production and better sounding than their first album, despite being very similar in both style and content to the band's debut album, to the point where it seemed like an imitation. Robert Christgau liked the album better than the debut, describing it as "more muddled conceptually than In the Court of the Crimson King" but commenting that "they're not afraid to be harsh, they command a range of styles, and their dynamics jolt rather than sledgehammer".

Allmusic's Bruce Eder praised the album, saying that it was better produced than their debut, but he also said that it "doesn't tread enough new ground to precisely rival In the Court of the Crimson King". "The Mellotron, taken over by Fripp after McDonald's departure", he continued, "still remains the band's signature". He also praised a 24-bit digitally remastered edition released in March 2000.

40th Anniversary EditionEdit

The album was re-released with a near complete new stereo mix by Steven Wilson and Robert Fripp. As tape for one track, "The Devil's Triangle", could not be located, the original stereo was included instead. The CD also includes a new mix of "Groon" ("Cat Food"'s b-side), an alternate take of "Peace: An Ending", and Greg Lake's guide vocal take of "Cadence and Cascade". The DVD-A features a 5.1 mix by Steven Wilson, with "The Devil's Triangle" up-mixed to 5.1 by Simon Heyworth, hi-res stereo versions of the 30th anniversary stereo master, the 2010 album mixes and ten hi-res bonus tracks including the original single "Cat Food"/"Groon", the bonus tracks from the CD, and a number of other session takes, rehearsals and mixes.[6]

Track listingEdit

All European LPs issued by Island and Polydor have erroneously printed labels that leave off "Peace – A Theme" and list "The Devil's Triangle" and its three movements as four distinct tracks. All US and Japanese Atlantic LPs use the correct track listing.

All songs written by Robert Fripp and Peter Sinfield, unless otherwise indicated.

Side one
No. Title Length
1. "Peace – A Beginning"   0:51
2. "Pictures of a City" (including "42nd at Treadmill") 7:57
3. "Cadence and Cascade"   4:35
4. "In the Wake of Poseidon" (including "Libra's Theme") 8:24

Side two
No. Title Length
5. "Peace – A Theme" (instrumental)  (Fripp) 1:15
6. "Cat Food" (Fripp, Sinfield, Ian McDonald) 4:52
7. "The Devil's Triangle" (instrumental)  (Fripp, McDonald)
  • I. "Merday Morn" (3:47)
  • II. "Hand of Sceiron" (4:01)
  • III. "Garden of Worm" (3:45)"  
8. "Peace – An End"   1:54


King Crimson
Additional personnel


  • Produced By Robert Fripp & Peter Sinfield
  • Recorded & Engineered By Tony Page & Robin Thompson

40th Anniversary Edition credits

  • Stereo files prepared at Super Audio Mastering, Devon by Simon Heyworth
  • 5.1 mastered by Simon Heyworth at Super Audio Mastering, Devon
  • DVD Design & Layout by Claire Bidwell at Opus Productions Ltd
  • DVD Authoring & Assembly by Neil Wilkes at Opus Productions Ltd
  • Tape transfers by Kevin Vanbergen at FX
  • DGM tape Archive: Alex Mundy
  • Package Art & Design by Hugh O'Donnell
  • Compiled & Coordinated by Declan Colgan for DGM
  • Published by UMG Music Ltd.


  1. Eder, Bruce. In the Wake of Poseidon – King Crimson | AllMusic. Retrieved on June 28, 2011.
  2. Christgau, Robert. Robert Christgau: CG: King Crimson. Retrieved on June 28, 2011.
  3. Campbell, Hernan M. (3 November 2012). Review: King Crimson - In the Wake of Poseidon | Sputnikmusic. Retrieved on April 10, 2013.
  4. The Twelve Faces of Humankind. Retrieved on October 21, 2013.
  5. Herewood Gabriel – Artist, Illustrator and Sculptures. Retrieved on February 25, 2010.
  6. 40th Anniversary Edition Information. Retrieved on July 30, 2010.
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