U.K.
U.K.


4.5
superb

Review

by ProgJect USER (31 Reviews)
August 5th, 2010 | 250 replies | 7,706 views


Release Date: 1978 | Tracklist

Review Summary: The superb effort of a short-lived group that never got the attention it deserved.

6 of 6 thought this review was well written

At the dawn of the 80s, the quality of classic progressive rock declined, slipping into the Dark Ages, the realm of new wave and punk. UK was a rare band to keep the genre alive. Unfortunately, they were a short-lived supergroup born in the twilight of prog’s Golden Age. It’s not surprising that in a time where the only survivors were bands that were not afraid to make a lot of compromises to stay alive, such as shortening their songs, modernizing the sound and adding pop elements in order to get more radio friendly, UK were the odd group out, but they seemed to be there to stay. They can be seen as a pre-echo of what was to come for the creative musician working in a music industry that had become increasingly hostile towards progressive bands.

Despite the Dark Ages looming on the horizon, comments from fans and even the media (wich were already starting to shun all 70’s prog rock monuments), proved to Wetton that there could still be some life in the Wetton/Bruford rhythm section of King Crimson, which had at this point broken up. Series of coincidences proved to be all the momentum needed in getting UK off the ground. Both keyboardist/violinist Eddie Jobson (Roxy Music, Curved Air, Zappa) and virtuoso jazz rock guitarist Allan Holdsworth (Soft Machine, Gong, Jean-Luc Ponty) were asked to join in, making for a line-up of four outstanding prog rockers. It could have resulted in nothing but noodling, but became the exact opposite. Beautiful melodies and exciting arrangements is what this debut album is all about. With such a line-up, you cannot expect more than a thrilling work. The album is very consistent, and flows effortlessly from start to finish. Despite Bruford once admitting that the album's recording process felt like four novelists trying to write one book together, the result is as good as it gets.

UK did not see chart position as the barometer for success, instead making the sort of music that their collective backgrounds might suggest. The band has produced 2 excellent studio albums and an equally valid live recording before splitting up in their glory days, not even related to external pressures from record labels asking them to be more pop. No, in their case, things got bad while touring. Holdsworth objected to being expected to play the same solos every night. Despite his musical fluidity and virtuosity, this approach did not suit John Wetton, who fired him from the band. Bruford left shortly after to pursue his solo career with Holdsworth on guitar. Bruford was replaced by Terry Bozzio (Zappa) for UK’s second and final studio album Danger Money. The band’s breakup was a shame, as they could have very well been able to spearhead a prog revival movement.

Split between radio-friendly vocal-parts and keyboard-dominated complex instrumental pieces, UK was definitely a great product of its time. Jobson was meant to be their driving force, and the album is totally based on his fantastic electric violin and the use of Yamaha CS 80,an analog synthesizer with a lot of power. Especially his keyboard work is absolutely fantastic, ranging from creating superb electronic landscapes to constantly battling with his violin and the rhythm section. UK is a keyboard driven band which offers a good mix of symphonic prog and jazz fusion, strengthened with strong vocals, stunning guitar solos, excellent keyboards layers and violin shots, and based on one of the best rhythm section prog rock has ever known.

These divided interests of both prog and jazz (Jobson/Wetton and Holdsworth/Bruford, respectively) converge in a solid sonic source that captures the pompous magic of the best early 70s prog rock, but gives it a somewhat modern approach, which is in no small degree due to the featured use of state-of-the-art Yamaha synthesizers by Jobson. The man proves to be UK's core: since his artistic sensibility is not foreign to the influence of jazz-rock, it allows him to become the bridge between the two pairs that conforms the band's ensemble.

One of the great things about this album is how catchy the choruses are mixed with the incredible instrumentation. It’s a total group effort. Wetton is at his most emotional, and has mainly a haunting vocal tone that is perfectly suited for the album. His bass playing is also quite superb as expected, and complements Bruford’ magnificent drumming perfectly. Bruford plays many off beats and syncopated beats with ease as much as he wanted, and paired them with a lot of odd time signatures. He played like he never did before, and like he’d never do subsequently. Jobson has sensibility for textures, harmonic bases and spacey atmospheres on synthesizers as well as his melancholic, yet imposing violin solos. He plays with flawless alternation between slow, atmospheric, and majestic, energetic keyboard chords. His electric violin is often floating, creating a spacey and floating atmospheres as well.

The album opens in attention-grabbing fashion with In the Dead of Night, as Wetton’s bass throbs with floor shaking power, and Jobson’s keys establish the main theme, before Bruford makes his presence known with his trademark precision and unmistakable, rapid-fire snare sound. Soon after the catchy chorus, guitar virtuoso Holdsworth steps to the front and offers an inspired, melodic, yet sinuous guitar solo. While the majority of the songs are penned by Wetton and Jobson, the instrumental Alaska is written by Jobson alone, and proves to be a highlight. It starts with epic, atmospheric, ethereal keyboards. Then, both Jobson and Holdsworth are engaging in some sort of titanic struggle, like if they were competing for space on the same solo spot. The interplay between Holdsworth and Jobson during the solos is breathtaking, and the album is full of various moods and unexpected instrumental workouts throughout.

From the unashamed riffing of In The Dead Of Night to the blistering electric violin solo of Thirty Years, this is a record that starts well and continues even better, somehow managing to gather even more momentum and build up increasingly complex melodic and rhythmic layers. Overall, the whole thing is bursting with great musical ideas and packed with energy. It's made of effective melodies, energetic interplay and amazing performing skills, and an essential addition to any progressive fan’s collection.



Recent reviews by this author
The Moody Blues In Search of the Lost ChordLe Orme Uomo Di Pezza
Maxophone MaxophoneRenaissance Turn of the Cards
Museo Rosenbach ZarathustraLocanda Delle Fate Forse le Lucciole non si Amano piu
user ratings (56)
Chart.
4.2
excellent

Comments:Add a Comment 
Nagrarok
August 5th 2010



8169 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

ProgJect continues again, and hopes sputnik takes its advice on the wonderful world of prog.

KILL
August 5th 2010



70343 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

i think my dad has this album somewhere, gonna go find it

Digging: Gal Costa - Gal Costa

Plutonio
August 5th 2010



474 Comments


wtf is prog sounds pretty simplistic

Jethro42
August 5th 2010



12351 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

Which excerpt for example, Plutonio?
@Nagrarok, Congrats for having passed through my writing. Review hasn't been easy to do for some reasons. Thanx for your usual magic touch on it. Very nice corrections/trim/enhancing, cheers.


Nagrarok
August 5th 2010



8169 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Yeah, this was a bit harder to correct than the previous one, especially the grammar. You still accidentaly repeat the same thing thrice in the review also, I don't know how that happens.

I listened a few hours ago as well, expected more of it though. More moments like In the Dead of Night.

Jethro42
August 5th 2010



12351 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

I was incredibly tired at the end, so not much proofreading, sorry mate.
also the english/french mish mash, and my note's mess did contribute to make it
harder to finish (last night, 2 1/2 AM)
Your rating is not bad. album needs time to be digested, at some degree.


Motiv3
August 5th 2010



8899 Comments


another progject review, awesome job guys.

Digging: Opeth - Pale Communion

Jethro42
August 5th 2010



12351 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

Cheers Hollier, buddy. ProgJect thank you.

supertouchox2
August 5th 2010



1062 Comments


Allan Holdsworth and people who played with Zappa, well I most definitely have to check this out.

jrowa001
August 5th 2010



8750 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

incredible album. nice to see a good album being reviewed on this site

Jethro42
August 5th 2010



12351 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

@Supertouchox2, I've randomly scanned your ratings, and at first glance, you might enjoy UK. Please, let me know what you think.
@jrowa001, sup man. Fascinating album indeed. Cheers

jrowa001
August 5th 2010



8750 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

need more albums like this one being reviewed instead of the same converge albums being reviewed 1000 times or some crappy scene band being reviewed by a dumbass. these are the things that have plagued this site. a bunch of little kids acting like they know what theyre talking about and reviewing gay shit. it was just only about 2 years ago this site used to be legit

Nagrarok
August 5th 2010



8169 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

I couldn't agree more jrowa. I wished the pretentious and annoying kids would just go away and make sputnik what it was designed for in the first place again.

Jethro42
August 5th 2010



12351 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

Agreed with both comments above, maing.
Any suggestion on Progject reviews to come, jrowa?

supertouchox2
August 5th 2010



1062 Comments


Will do my friend, I really would like to hear it before I buy, youtube seems to have 1 dodgy video, due to their name it makes searching very hard.

Any info on where I could preview this?


supertouchox2
August 5th 2010



1062 Comments


Actually scratch that, managed to find some youtube vids with songs after looking for a while.

Jethro42
August 5th 2010



12351 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

Any info on where I could preview this?

I have no idea sorry, buddy, and you're right, the band's name can't help, really. Try to youtube 'John Wetton UK'

vanderb0b
August 5th 2010



3473 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Fantastic review, this album definitely sounds like something that I'd enjoy.

Jethro42
August 5th 2010



12351 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

Much appreciated vanderb0b, buddy. According to me, you might like this. Give it a whirl, and let me know.

jrowa001
August 6th 2010



8750 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

well i think some Bill Bruford and Brand X reviews are worth looking into. maybe some East of Eden, Focus, The Soft Machine. looking at your ratinggs jethro42, any of those albums that dont either have a review at all or a justifiable reviews need one



You have to be logged in to post a comment. Login | Create a Profile





FAQ // STAFF & CONTRIBUTORS // SITE FORUM // CONTACT US

Bands: A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z


Site Copyright 2005-2013 Sputnikmusic.com
All Album Reviews Displayed With Permission of Authors | Privacy Policy