I've heard many good things about them but have never really sat down to listen to a bunch of songs.
Which songs or albums do I start with?
Wow Tilpo with all due respect, you suggested Lizard, an album that even diehard Crimheads cannot agree on! Me, I'm with you: I LOVE Lizard but unless our friend Sduibek likes sometimes discordant jazz infused rock, he might come away scratching his head!
SDUIBEK - If you tend towards harder-edged material, Tilpo's suggestion of Red is a really good one or even In the Court of the Crimson King. Perhaps let us know what other types of music you find enjoyable and we can focus recommendations. There is too much good stuff of wildly varying styles over the last 40+ years to shoot in the dark.
SDUIBEK - After I posted my reply, I noticed your avatar. Did you see the Crimson ProjeKct touring with Dream Theatre this past summer? If so and you liked that, by all means pickup Red, Discipline, Three of a Perfect Pair and Thrak. They played selections from all of these.
The first King Crimson album I heard was In the Court of the Crimson King. That album blew me away, I've never heard anything like it and I doubt I will again. Truly one of the land marks in progressive rock - in fact I would call it a land mark in music full stop. If anyone asked me where to start with King Crimson I would say In the Court.
My second favorite album by them is In the Wake of Poseidon. You might say it follows on from In the Court (which is no surprise given it's the next album in line).
After that it's Isands and Red.
KC like many bands have gone through a number of line up changes and this is reflected in the different albums they've released. I believe Fripp is the only continuation in the line up changes. Check out a few of the interview etc. on YouTube with Fripp - he's a pretty intense - and intensely clever - guy.
Unless you grew up listening to early brit prog rock such as procol, genesis, etc... I'd suggest skipping the studio stuff and go for the better live efforts as the studio stuff can be an aquired taste.
The Great Deciever, Absent Lovers, and Vroom Vroom are essential imo
The Great Deciever has the killer early 70's Whetton/ Cross line up and while it doesnt have a huge variety it contains some awesome improvs! Whettons vocals are great as well
Fripp is one eccentric dude and what I like about The Great Deciever is how he was always complaining how it was hard for him to play over Whetton and Bruford!
He reminds me alot of Frank Zappa in his approach to composition and CONTROL haha
Absent Lovers is the excellent Belew/Levin line up, has good variety of songs and Belew's singing is in top form. Brufords electric percussion kit from that era still makes me cringe! What the hell was he thinking? Larks Tongues In Aspic pt 2 is always insane but this version is probably my favorite
Vroom Vroom is a more modern Double Duo Belew/Levin/Gunn/Mastelotto incarnation and contains much newer material and highlights many of the favs from the entire library
LIVE is where Crimson can really blow your hair back. I find most of their studio efforts to be rather plodding and dull in comparison
If you're not familiar with Zappa's live 70's library then you might want to spend some time there as well....AWESOME
Start with "Roxy & Elsewhere"
I came over to my friends house one day and he asked if I ever heard of KC, and I haven't. He pawed through his dad's vinyl collection and put "Larks tongue in Aspic Part 1" on (off the album of the same name) and well...few times in my life have I been so astonished and amazed by music. I had never heard anything remotely like it and I loved it. It's WAY out there for a KC album though so not the best repersentation of them. After that he got out "Discipline" and dropped the needle on the first track, again same story, I was completely speechless.
After that raided record stores looking for them and I wanted to do KC proper so I started with their debut (I could write for ages on that one, one of the best albums EVER IMO). After that I traded a shroom shirt for a pressing of In the Wake of Poseidon, both albums I had for years before getting more.
The next progression of crimson starts with discipline of course and the trio of 80's albums.
If you want to start backwards, I would suggest picking up ThraK as it's more accessible while being 100% crimson. You can't really go wrong with whatever you pick up because it's all very well recorded or remastered.
Probably lol. But really, it comes from Fripp and his impeccable collaberation skills with musicians. You should absolutely look up interviews with him on youtube, there are a few. He's incredibly intelligent and well spoken, full of life/music wisdom.
Here is a link to probably the best King Crimson resource on the web, it's kinda unorganized and long-winded, but amazing in-depth and full of insight:
Here you will find Peter Seinfeld's lyrics (He did lyrics for the first two Crimson albums that I know of) explained in great detail, it really takes you back some to realize how complex, metaphorical, and deep his words are.
Also, in 1970 (somehow in hell) they had a minor hit in the UK with "Cat Food" and actually played it on "Top of the Pops" it's hilarious to see the kids try and dance with that time signature change (it's not on the internet anywhere though, expect on crimson dvds).