The best (and worst) of Tony Levin
(outside Yes)
Results and discussion from a newsgroup poll

Albums recommended:

        1. Discipline [King Crimson]
        2. Peter Gabriel III [Peter Gabriel]
        3. Us [Peter Gabriel]

32 votes; polling took place late 1999

(first preference votes in full)
Peter Gabriel III           6.25  [Peter Gabriel]
Discipline                  6.25  [King Crimson]
Us                          2     [Peter Gabriel]
Peter Gabriel II            1.25  [Peter Gabriel]
Peter Gabriel IV            1.25  [Peter Gabriel; a.k.a. Security]
Absent Lovers               1.25  [King Crimson]
Alive                       1     [Chuck Mangione]
The Prophet                 1     [Richard Harris]
The Key                     1     [Joan Armatrading]
Cloud About Mercury         1     [David Torn]
A Momentary Lapse of Reason 1     [Pink Floyd]
Tim Finn                    1     [Tim Finn]
Lost Brotherhood            1     [Gowan]
World Gone Strange          1     [Andy Summers]
World Diary                 1     [Tony Levin]
THRAK                       1     [King Crimson]
Cirkus                      1     [King Crimson]
Peter Gabriel I             0.25  [Peter Gabriel]
Three of a Perfect Pair     0.25  [King Crimson]
Beat                        0.25  [King Crimson]


At least among prog rock fans, Levin remains best known for his work in King Crimson and with Peter Gabriel, although votes were also received for albums across the gamut of Levin's session work resume. After the widely-regarded classics of Discipline and the third eponymous Peter Gabriel album, opinion was fairly evenly divided among Levin's other Crimson and Gabriel work and various other albums. (Interestingly, Discipline did far less well in Bruford's poll.)

Gabriel's Us just squeezed ahead to take the third place over Levin's debut solo album World Diary, the latter surprisingly being the only one of Levin's recent splurge of collaborative albums to feature here.

King Crimson (inc. ProjeKcts) recommended:

        1. Discipline
        2. THRAK

Levin's longest running band membership has been in King Crimson and the debuts from each of the band's eighties and nineties (well, excluding the VROOOM EP) incarnations take the top two places. Discipline and THRAK clearly led from the pack, with Beat a distant third. It's worth noting that the recent ProjeKct releases only came out during the poll and featured little in the voting.

Peter Gabriel recommended:

        1. Peter Gabriel III
        2. Peter Gabriel II

A clear sign of a classic period for Gabriel's solo work, although So wasn't far behind in third.

Acronymic collaborations etc. recommended:

In recent years, Levin has been involved in more band projects and other collaborations. Beginning with his first solo album, World Diary, a series of duets, Levin has been in a number of projects best known by their acronyms: like BLS, BLUE and LTE. I counted the votes just for these various projects, namely World Diary, Levin Marotta Gorn, Bozzio Levin Stevens, Liquid Tension Experiment (two albums) and Bruford Levin. With fewer eligible votes, I only calculated the top place, which went to:

        1. Bruford Levin Upper Extremities [BLUE]

After years working together in other bands, Bruford and Levin teamed up with David Torn and Chris Botti for their own project. The album proved a hit with fans and more popular than a series of collaborations with names less familiar on the prog scene.

Guest/session appearances recommended:

(excluding with Peter Gabriel)

        1. Cloud About Mercury [David Torn]
        2. A Momentary Lapse of Reason [Pink Floyd]

With considerable cross-over in personnel with BLUE, it is interesting to see Cloud About Mercury do so well here: it was a clear winner. A Momentary Lapse of Reason only just took second place over Steve Hackett's Genesis Revisited and Andy Summers' World Gone Strange.

Albums to be avoided:

        1. Requiem for the Americas [Jonathan Elias/various artists]
        2. Liquid Tension Experiment [Liquid Tension Experiment]

A project led by unpopular Union-producer Jonathan Elias (Jon Anderson also guests), the concept album Requiem for the Americas is the clear loser here, with the first Liquid Tension Experiment only just taking second.

Releases since the poll:

The ProjeKcts box set and The Deception of the Thrush best-of selection were only released during this poll. Since then, there have been a number of albums with work by Levin: most significantly his latest solo album Waters of Eden, and also the live album B.L.U.E. Nights, King Crimson Collectors' Club releases and various session work.


All the recommended albums are available on CD and in print.

Return to Poll main page
Copyright: Henry Potts, 2000
Last updated 18 Apr 2000