King Crimson: Boz (vocals, bass); Robert Fripp (guitar, Mellotron, harmonium); Mel Collins (flute, saxophone); Ian Wallace (drums, percussion); Peter Sinfield.
Additional personnel: Robin Miller (oboe); Paulina Lucas (soprano saxophone); Mark Charig (cornet); Keith Tippett (piano); Harry Miller (bass).
On ISLANDS, Crimson left behind the formula they followed for their first three albums, setting off for more adventurous avenues of expression. If his leadership were ever in question before, Robert Fripp had emerged as the mastermind of the group by this point. There's a much looser feel here, and even when essaying a delicate ballad like "Formentera Lady" or the gorgeous title track, jazzy bass and piano lines and free-wheeling percussion keep things from getting too settled. The jazz influence always present in Crimson grew far more pronounced on ISLANDS via saxman Mel Collins and pianist Keith Tippett.
Where the KC of old turned to Wagnerian grandeur to fill its classical quota, here they favor a more modern classical flavor, often approaching a third stream feel. Fripp's two instrumentals "Sailor's Tale" and "Prelude: Song of the Gulls" showcase his compositional and instrumental brilliance at its most undiluted. While there's more of a sprawling, spacious feel and little fury on ISLANDS, the dynamic shifts are as drastic as ever, as evidenced by new bassist/vocalist Boz Burrell's barely audible singing on "The Letters."
Mojo (Publisher) (p.120) - 4 stars out of 5 -- "'Ladies Of The Road' is a spectacularly lubricious funky blues showcasing of Mel Collins' leering, sexual tenor sax..."
Record Collector (magazine) (p.83) - 3 stars out of 5 -- "[The album] opens with the 10-minute orchestral `Formentera Lady,' boasting flute and sax noodling..."
Uncut (magazine) (p.97) - 4 stars out of 5 -- "The group never sounded so laidback and sun-baked as on 'Formentera Lady', decorated like the title track with glittering textures from a free jazz squad..."