USA was recorded towards the end of King Crimson's final US tour of the 70's in June 1974. It was issued as an epitaph for the band in Spring 1975 as a single album – at a time when doubles or even triple live albums were more considered the norm for live releases. The reputation of the 1972/1974 King Crimson line-up is now revered by critics and fans alike with the material very sought after.
In common with much of Crimson's output, it was not well received at the time by critics, though its critical reputation has grown immeasurably in the intervening years to the point where a review of the 21st Century Guide to King Crimson boxed set in 2004 identified the album as the point "...where Fripp maps out the guitar blueprint for the entire post-punk movement." The reputation of the 1972/1974 King Crimson line-up is now revered by critics and fans alike with the material very sought after.
"As Robert Fripp had done with King Crimson's first live LP, Earthbound (1972), USA is a single-disc concert package documenting the quartet during its 1974 swing through North America. As with its predecessor, USA was also issued as a sonic cenotaph of the concurrently defunct Krim. So insistent that the band would not be resurrected, Fripp concluded the LP's liner notes at the time with another three-letter epitaph: "R.I.P." The 1973/1974 King Crimson included the collective efforts of Fripp (guitar/mellotron), David Cross (violin), John Wetton (bass/vocals), and Bill Bruford (drums/percussion). USA also includes notable violin overdubs by Eddie Jobson on the tracks "Larks' Tongues in Aspic, Pt. 2" and "21st Century Schizoid Man," as well as electric piano addendums to "Lament."
The opening drone re-creates the typical performance prelude, lifted directly from the Fripp and Brian Eno sonic sculpture No Pussyfooting (1973). The brusque juxtaposition of the ethereal opening to the aggressive "Larks' Tongues in Aspic, Pt. 2" jolts the audience into the rips and snorts found during this tautly rendered instrumental. The readings of "Lament" and "Exiles" demonstrate this band's overwhelming sonic sensibilities. They are able to contrast and incorporate thick, viscous melodies and rhythms with alternately underlying sensitive, as well as ultimately beautiful, musical responses. A majority of the release is taken from a performance on June 28, 1974, at the Casino in Asbury Park, NJ, with the notable exception of "21st Century Schizoid Man," which was recorded two nights later at the Palace Theater in Providence, RI." - Lindsay Planer, All Music
30th anniversary edition, 24 bit remaster. Crystal clear jewel box with 12-page booklet. Originally released in 1975, contains three bonus tracks (1, 8 & 9). Recorded live by the Record Plant, N.Y.C., June 1974. Mixed at Olympic Studios, London. Remastered at Sanctuary Mastering, London, March 26-27, 2002. ℗ & © 2004 Robert Fripp Printed in the EU (on back cover) Made in the EU (on disc)