King Crimson / Sailors’ Tales box set

Another one of those mega King Crimson box sets is due in November. Sailors’ Tales brings together the ‘complete’ 1970-72 King Crimson across 27 discs with a price-tag that would make Paul McCartney blush.

This set includes 21 CDs, four blu-ray discs and a pair of audio-only DVDs. Specifically you get:

  • 3CDs feature Steven Wilson and Robert Fripp stereo mixes of In The Wake Of Poseidon, Lizard and Islands plus additional tracks.
  • 6CDs feature the Islands line-up’s early concerts from Germany (new to CD) and the UK (1971).
  • 9CDs feature live recordings (several new to CD and/or previously unreleased in any format) from the 1972 US tour, including a new stereo mix of Summit Studios and an expanded Earthbound.
  • 3CDs feature auditions for the Islands band and two further, as yet, unidentified concerts from 1972 (all previously unreleased).
  • 3 blu-ray discs contain the main studio albums in 5.1 Surround Sound, recent stereo editions mixed by Steven Wilson and Robert Fripp, 30th anniversary masters of the original stereo albums mixes (all in 24/96 hi-res), plus extensive additional material with each disc also featuring a complete alternate album and a further selection of additional, related studio/live material in hi-res.
  • The Lizard blu-ray also contains the audition material from CDs19/20.
  • The Islands blu-ray also contains the following concerts in stereo Zoom Club (4 shows), Marquee Club, Plymouth, Glasgow, Detroit all from 1971.
  • The Earthbound Tour blu-ray features an expanded version of the original album, Summit Studios gig in Stereo and Quadraphonic (newly mixed), the Schizoid Men sequence from the Ladies of the Road album, 2 newly discovered concerts in hi-res stereo and every existing soundboard concert recording from the 1972 US tour: Wilmington, NYC (2 shows), Chicago (2 tracks only), Detroit, Jacksonville, Orlando, Pittsburgh, Milwaukee, Peoria, Indianapolis & Denver (2 shows).
  • The two DVDs feature the expanded Earthbound, Summit Studios, Schizoid Men, New York 1972 and the recently discovered live concerts.

All of the above is presented in a large format 12” x 12″ box with booklet, memorabilia, a further downloadable concert (!), and sleeve-notes by Sid Smith, Jakko Jakszyk and David Singleton.

If you buy this, you obviously don’t need the expanded Earthbound release. Various pre-order links can be found below. Burning Shed, I believe, have this exclusively for pre-order in the UK.

The Sailors’ Tales box set will be released on 3 November 2017

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I listened to “Schizoid Men” for the first time today and was shocked that it cut off abruptly just before the final verse. I don’t have a copy of “Ladies of the Road” for comparison. Can anyone tell me if it’s the same abrupt ending on that release too?


I hae no interest in King Crimson whatsoever, but $160 for a 27 disc box seems pretty reasonable to me.

Emilio Lafarga Giribets

Anyone knows why has it been delayed?

Paul Wren

Mr Fripp knows how to engage with his fan base at an attractive price level, doesn’t he? The breadth and depth of KC’s output in recent years has been nothing short of breathtaking.


About time you interviewed the wonderful Mr Fripp Paul!


Since I play my music on a simple Naim CD player, I wonder what use do I have in such box that has so many DVDs and blue-rays CDs…


As ‘Islands’ is one of my two favourite KC albums (the other being ‘Larks Tongues in Aspic’) I’m really looking forward to this. Don’t know if anyone’s noted this yet, but the set would be even more complete if it were to include the McDonald & Giles album (in its original ‘soft pussy on her knee’ incarnation, with a 5.1 mix). Not a KC release as such, I know, but front an historical perspective the album did include tracks that would have completed ‘In the Wake of Poseidon’ had M&G not jumped ship when they did…


I have bought the others and will buy this one. I’m thinking Fripp is biting his tongue now over the upcoming 300 disc crate Komplete Recordings of King Crimson in 2022.


What? A KRoKC? ;)


Chris, I understand the matter, as I found myself with a faulty BluRay in the Starless Boxset four months after I bought it. Lucky for me FNAC stores in France are usually not too picky with the return date when you are a good customer (and I guess I am one of those). With the Road to Red and On and Off the road, I simply spent 2 or 3 hours just trying the discs.. With a thorough and extensive test of the BluRays…
The Road to Red and Thrak boxsets are my favorites until now… Looking forward to the Lizard’s live recordings in this new box to see if it gets in my top 3 boxes..

Dr Magus

The auditions disc sounds intriguing. I wonder if it’ll feature Rick Kemp’s audition tape.


The one problem I have with sets this large is that it’s well nigh impossible to verify everything’s OK with all the discs before the vendor’s return period has expired. If you find a problem with Disc 20 three months after you’ve purchased the set, you’re in trouble.

This problem hasn’t stopped me yet, of course; but it always leaves me anxious when I buy something big.


download-only… people based mccartney a lot for that!


I understand the period covered by this box set and the _On (and Off) the Road_ sets. But I’m a bit confused by the wealth of other stuff available, at DGM, on Amazon, etc. Is there a discography anywhere that’s *complete* and that’s organized in a rational way, so I can see everything that King Crimson has released, what compilations exist and what they cover, etc.? Stuff like the All-Music Guide come close, I know.

Rik K

I have 4 KC box sets, plus to 40th anniversary editions with Surround mixes, so that is enough for me. It’s true that the KC boxes are a very good value, but for me the Jethro Tull deluxe sets are even better. Not so much repetitive content overkill, much more text to read by a wider variety of contributors, and rock-bottom pricing! I prefer the digibook packaging over boxes as well.


A good place to start is the band’s website (the DGM site) – they have pages for which concerts for which are available (whatever source) with track listings, details of recording source, ban comments etc – you can spend hours just going through page by page (or should that be frame by frame) working through the tours. And there are (or, were, I’ve not checked) some good value download options available from the ‘modern’ era where they band recorded every night directly, where you could download individual shows or full tour sets.


Indeed when it comes to value for money in SDE, nothing beats King Crimson’s box sets. Robert Fripp is a very rare kind of artist, I cannot think of anyone beating him when it comes to be at the same time: a top musician, a business man with an artist heart, an archivist, a curator, a band leader (who yet doesn’t need to front on stage), a marketeer, a writer, and above all an extremely articulate and intelligent man.


This is the “Crim of the Crop,” bad puns and all.

Between this, dgmlive.com, and On and Off the Road, I think every segment of Crim life has been annotated and documented. Tip of the hat to Mssr. Fripp. I wish more bands had control of their catalogs to this degree.

Dr Magus

I’d deliberately avoided buying Collector’s Club shows from this era in anticipation of this release. I’m pretty chuffed i waited. I agree with the comments about Lizard and Cirkus, they are my favourites too. Cirkus was the very first KC song i heard when i was about 5-6. Seeing it performed live a year ago was the best surprise. Can’t wait to explore everything in the box.

It ties up the 20th century Krim nicely and means the focus can now shift to box sets covering last 20 years.

Are you watching QPL? All we want is VALUE FOR MONEY!


Excellent report, Paul.
And it’s thrilling to read such enthousiastic reviews from people about the previous box sets.
Yes, this is really one of the most incredible collection of releases, and the price is stunning, for the quantity of work involved.
The official website claims that this new boxe contains the “complete recorded history” of the band during this period. I understand that means that every live show recorded between 70 and 72 is there. Be it professionally recorded or audience or soundboard.

Isn’t that amazing ?

Dan T.

I wish I could, but the 40th anniversary editions are about all I can take, and I still haven’t fully digested them, years after the fact. I love them though. I bought an Oppo player years ago just so I could get to the lossless surrounds on the DVD-As Fripp/Wilson were releasing.

Not sure why people rip on Poseidon the way they do. A tepid “soft copy” of their first album, as they say, doesn’t come across to me as self-flattery or imitation reinvention. In fact, if it’s just an extension of the first album, then the onus is on THEM for explaining why they don’t love it, since they’re usually in the deepest of praise for ItCotCK. Poseidon is in my top three for KC for that very reason – it’s more of the debut album’s greatness! So whatever.

Count me out, only because I have rent to pay… ;-)


Still not available on Amazon U.K.- wonder why…

Kevin from Edinburgh

B – My guess would be that they want as many people as possible in the UK to buy from Burning Shed, to maximise their return on the boxes.


I believe that you have to “want” to do SDE boxes for yourself and the fans and not just under pressure from the record companies – that has to be the difference between Robert Fripp and (say, say, say) Paul McCartney…
(when I say ‘yourself’, I mean the artiste – when you are sitting on an extensive archive of material, it can be very hard to get your head around the vast amount of stuff on unmarked/unlistened to reels decades old, and make decisions about what fans would want to hear and own).


These boxes are the “dream Come true” for any fan ….i got the previous 4 or 5 . And will ordered this one ..The content is exactly what you can expect from à box ..pleasure to look at and to listen to thank you Mr Fripp


I was surprised to see this. I wrongly assumed that since something like this hadn’t come out earlier, the next box we would have seen would be related to ConstruKction of Light and Power to Believe. But the surprise was only momentary before I hit the pre-order button. :)

As others have alluded to, I think the reason they can pack so much in for a such a reasonable price is (a) Fripp controls all the music and (b) he doesn’t have a massive team of people he needs to pay like McCartney and others apparently do. So he can pretty much do what he feels is best and not have to taken into account what a record company is telling him.

The only thing that slightly worries me about these KC sets before I buy them is the quality of the live material. Some of the boxes I have include shows that don’t sound so great. And they’re upfront about that, especially with these sets from the 60s/70s, so credit to them on that. It doesn’t stop me from buying them.

I suppose it’s better to include everything you can and let each fan decide what’s good and what isn’t. Hmm… now there’s an idea other artists might want to adopt.


Scott Smith, have you tried the “On (and Off) the Road” box?


Yes Queen take note this is a box set worthy of a hearty price tag but disc for disc is a fraction of the price and offers more. And no vinyl in the box Vinyl has been released already and probably up for re- issue soon


For Americans, KC’s own dgmlive.com has this for $190 plus shipping. And, there is no video content.

Scott Smith

Not my favorite KC era, but I’ll probably still buy it. Now, if they do a similar set for the Discipline/Beat/Three of a Perfect Pair lineup, sign me up!

CJ Feeney
Scott Smith

Huh. Yeah, and I’ve got it. Just too damn old to remember.

Grateful Fred

`but surely these are under priced boxed sets.`, are you stark raving bonkers Sir?

andrew r

No he isn’t, over 21 cd’s plus the box, additional dvd’s memorabilia plus a book
if the others in the set are anything to go by. There are usually 7000 in the run
i doubt there is a fortune being made here.The real question is how much excess profit for others
like the Zeppelin superdeluxe and Mcartney that offered much less content for a similar price!
Bravo Mr Fripp and team!


It does look good value and I will be buying it, just as I have bought the other Crimso boxsets. However, it is worth pointing out that their target market must be hardcore fans, most of whom will have (like me) bought much of the live stuff already through the King Crimson Collectors Club or downloads. Hey ho.


Indeed, the fact that the band has already issued much of its live material separately may help to explain the pricing on the box sets. They seem to have succeeded in balancing the repackaging costs and new audio material with a price point that appeals to those who already have purchased many of the prior fan club releases.

adam shaw

This is a great set .
But how can they do it for this price ?
I know Macca , Floyd ect released over priced boxes but surely these are under priced boxed sets.
Their profit margins must be small .


> these are under priced boxed sets. Their profit margins must be small !
Are you kidding – manufacturing cost of a CD/DVD/BR is probably in the region of 20 pence /disc so at most about £6 – books are a bit pricier -say about £4 – still a very healthy profit – but at least KC care for their fans, unlike that money grubbing, talentless egomaniac maccartney!

Neil Wilkes

Your replication costs are way off.
CD are pennies, sure but DVD 9 (dual layer) are closer to the 60-70p mark and Blu-ray are brutally expensive with the mandatory AACS more than doubling the costs.
The printing and all the artwork is another large cost – so producing stuff like this is far from cheap I can assure you.


I am waiting for the “Japanese Assemble” version I expect to show up within a month or two; Wowow Entertainment released for each of previous such box set beautiful set of mini-LP replica sleeves in box sets.

Barrie Sillars

I too, being a KC afficiondo have this box on order. For me, these boxes represent the state of the art in terms of presentation, best sound you can get on CD and all the surround and hi-res stuff packed into the blu-rays. If Panegyric can do this standard of quality, why can’t others, especially majors do the same?


Ordered mine for £109.99. Is there any video material included?


£109.99? Where?!


If you’re a fan of one of the big stars (Elton John, McCartney, Madonna etc etc) start saving now to be able to afford legacy boxsets like this once the’re dead!


incredible great for that price (Pink Floyd are you listen?)
I’m not sucha big a fan , so I hope the Blu-rays get an individual release someday

Paul Kennedy

It’s Funny how Bands like King Crimson can do these boxes and give fans what they want but other major players seem to want to rip people off with far less content in boxes that cost around or just over the £100 mark …!!! Pink Floyd and The Who amongst others should take note !!


Fripp has a great deal, if not complete, control over his catalog which helps. He uses this control to the benefit of fans and makes a pretty penny along the way with a catalog that isn’t massive if you think about it.


Lovely. I have each of these sets and they are fantastic value for money. I’m guessing that there are only three further such sets possible.
A super deluxe Crimson King set (50th anniversary in 2019?)
The 2003 super deluxe set.
A box of the recent tour.

I love this era (although Poseidon not so much) so will be looking forward to a Crimson Christmas :)

Noah Cross

I completely agree with you. This is the first era of KC I was exposed to. Lizard will always be my favorite. IMO “Cirkus” is the ultimate KC song with the most ominous mellotron sounds ever heard. I thought Poseidon was a tepid rehash of the first album, but one must consider that the epic McDonald and Giles composition “Bird Man” was originally meant for this album, but ultimately saved for their own album so KC had to resort to somewhat lesser material. These box sets are heaven for completists.

CJ Feeney

I think there is room for a ProjeKCts/Deception of the Thrush superset with Blu Ray etc. The original box is a hard to get hold of item now.


I can imagine the following SDE next in the line:

– a box set covering the “The ConstruKction Of Light” and “The ProjeKcts” (One, Two, Three, Four and X) era, i.e. from 1997 to 2000; easily a 25+ disc set.

– a box set covering the “The Power To Believe” era, starting as early as 2001 with the excellent “Level Five”.

– a box set starting with “A Scarcity Of Miracles” and including a selection of the best live recordings since then.

Chris Miah

Yeah,i hope they release a box of The Power To Believe. The live material must be fantastic. Is there any live material been made available yet ?

The Progster

Yes it might make Paul McCartney blush but Gene Simmons I don’t think so…because he’s going to be laughing all the way to his very imminent soon be inflated bank account.