Starless

Songfacts®:

  • The first single from North East England folk group The Unthanks' fourth album, Last is a bit of the wild card as it's a cover of a 12 minute jazz-rock odyssey from King Crimson's 1974 LP Red. Stripped down to a piano ballad, the Unthanks' version features vocals by Becky Unthank.
  • The Unthanks' manager, pianist and producer Adrian McAlly, told Mojo magazine why the band decided to reach to Robert Fripp's prog rock group for material: "Chris (Price, Unthanks guitarist and I grew up with a fairly comprehensive prog rock education and we're all to aware of its pitfalls and pomposity. Some bands didn't care about the lyrics, or even having a decent singer, as long as they could play in 9/8 time, but others, like King Crimson, did care.

    I wanted to free a fairly well-written song about depression - well, we think it's about depression - and show it to be something beautiful when not inhibited by prog's trappings."
  • The band's co-vocalist Rachel Unthank, who is married to McAlly, said: "It's not music that me and Becky were grown up with. It was Adrian's idea. He got into his parent's record collection, wide and varied and included a lot of prog-rock. King Crimson's 'Starless' was such a beautiful song, and because the melody is so beautiful.

    When he played it to me and Becky, we fell in love with the melody. Becky loved the words and wanted to sing them. Adrian turned it into a string quartet song. It's something we've enjoyed singing onstage."

    "(King Crimson vocalist) John Wetton came to see us as well. He was very nice about it, very generous, though his singing is slightly different from Becky," she added with another laugh.

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