1971–1972: the Islands band
After a search for new musicians, Fripp and Sinfield secured a returning Collins and Ian Wallace on drums. Auditions for a singer included those from Bryan Ferry and John Gaydon, the band's manager. The position went to Raymond "Boz" Burrell. Bassist John Wetton was invited to join, but declined (at the time) in order to play with Family. Rick Kemp also declined an offer to join, leaving Fripp and Wallace teaching Burrell to play bass rather than continue auditions. Though he had not played bass before, Burrell had played enough rhythm guitar to assist him in learning the instrument. With the line-up complete, King Crimson toured in 1971 for the first time since 1969. The concerts were well received, but the musical and lifestyle differences of Collins, Wallace, and Burrell began to alienate the drug-free Fripp, who began to withdraw socially from his bandmates, creating further tension.
In 1971, the new King Crimson formation recorded Islands. Loosely influenced by Miles Davis's orchestral collaborations with Gil Evans and Homer's Odyssey, the album also showed signs of a split in styles between Sinfield (who favoured the softer and more textural jazz-folk approach and wanted the band to move in a Miles Davis direction) and Fripp (who was drawn more towards the harsher instrumental style exemplified by the instrumental "Sailor's Tale", with its dramatic Mellotron and banjo-inspired guitar technique). Islands also featured the band's one-and-only experiment with a string ensemble on "Prelude: Song of the Gulls" and the raunchy rhythm-and-blues-inspired "Ladies of the Road".