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Thread: FEATURED CD : UK : UK

  1. #1
    Moderator Duncan Glenday's Avatar
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    FEATURED CD : UK : UK

    Credit for this featured CD : Sturgeon's Lawyer


    Based on a CD received from the collection bequeathed to Progressive Ears by the late Chris Buckley (Winkersnuff)


    Sturgeon's Lawyer's comments:


    I'm listening to this for the sixth time since it arrived, hoping it will be better this time -- not that it's bad, but that I had a cassette tape of this back in the day, and I remember it as being absolutely amazeballs.What I am getting now, forty years and a hell of a lot of music later, is four amazing talents coming together in something that is, sadly, less than the sum of its parts.

    Has the Suck Fairy gotten at it?

    Not really. Holdsworth's solo from "In the Dead of Night" is playing as I write, and it's tasteful and beautiful; but then, this suite, occupying the first three tracks, is to my mind far and away the best thing on the album. The jagged beats that characterize this first song make it the most "Crimson-ish" production of the band that was supposed to be the next King Crimson.

    "By the Light of Day", by contrast, is a kinder, gentler UK, doing things the King Crimson of Red could never have done: burbling keyboards, harmonized vocals, and a sense of peace. It's almost a reversal of "In the Dead of Night" -- as the title implies. Some of the harmonic progressions just amaze.

    And so on to "Presto Vivace and Reprise". Here Bruford comes to the front for the first time, in a spiralling instrumental that keeps shifting time signatures and generally kicks butt and takes names; and then back to the jagged beats of the dead of night.

    Now a confession: I have absolutely no memory whatsoever of several tracks from way back when, and "Thirty Years" is the first of these. Its opening seems to be longing for a mellotron, but then Wetton's voice comes in and ... is almost unintelligible to these ears. After that the song goes nowhere for a while, then suddenly in burst Holdsworth and Bruford, with a quick solo that goes onto more jagged chords.

    Here is as good a place as any to comment on Jobson's synth sounds. Mostly they're good, but occasionally I wonder what he was thinking.

    More Holdsworth solo. Yum.

    Actually this song is pretty good after it gets over its rather slow beginning.

    I saw the three-man version of this band open for Tull in 1979, and "Alaska" is my most vivid memory of that show. That opening bass drone opened the show, and it pressed me into my seat. After the suite, this section is the strongest composition on the record. (Jobson pirated bits of it for his big solo on the 1980 Tull tour.) I'm not sure what the other members of the band are doing during this long keyboard solo -- I suppose the bass drone might be Wetton.

    Then it jumps into third gear, and becomes basically another mathematically perfect bit of hard-rock prog with a serious lack of soul. Jobson's violin is welcome here, but it's not enough.The first half of the song might be my favorite bit on the album, even more than the suite; but the second part is just an extended intro to the next song.

    "Time to Kill" features Wetton singing the way he did on "Red", powerfully and on key. Bruford explodes all over this one. The harmony vocals are a little off, but otherwise this is an excellent piece of music, with an instrumental section that actually gets quite funky in a Gentle Giant sort of way. Long violin solo here with some weird effects that don't quite work, but it's still a hell of a solo. It ends well, too.

    Holdsworth's extraordinary acoustic (sounding) solo opens "Nevermore", and segues nicely into the song proper. One thing this band did well was transition from one section to another without jarring (unless they wanted to). This is the other song I have no memory of, and it's fairly easy to see why: it sort of meanders. The jazz harmonies in the vocals probably passed me right by back then, too; my main taste in jazz back then was Cab Calloway and a few others from the BIg Band era.

    I'm curious about the backing vocals - who did them? (Wikipedia search Wetton. Must have made them hard to reproduce live; I really don't recall the singing from that show. (Of course, it was followed almost immediately by Ian Anderson's vocals, so they probably knocked Wetton's right out of my mind.)

    "Nevermore" just sort of fades into nothing, leaving us to the song I liked least back in the day: "Mental Medication". Part of my hostility to it was the snooze-inducing opening section with its screwy lyrics, which seemed like an exercise in "how many lines can I find that end in -ation".

    But listening to it today, I find its middle bit quite enjoyable, especially when it goes into (again) Giantish things playing against each other as if they have nothing to do with each other, only they do, very much so. Then on to a section where the whole band cuts loose at once, fabulous playing but not that well-composed. This transitions into a Bruford explosion, and a bass-violin duel that gets the blood going.

    The song transitions back to that soporific opening sound, and that is (alas) the last we ever heard from the four-piece UK.
    Regards,

    Duncan

  2. #2
    I reviewed this and he other two 2009 U.K. reissues back when they came out. You can find that one here.

    I reviewed them again as part of the Ultimate Collector's Edition when the box was released in 2016, and you can read that one here.
    John Kelman
    Senior Contributor, All About Jazz since 2004
    Freelance writer/photographer

  3. #3
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    As the supposed bearer of hope for an entire music movement, this fantastic band unfortunately quickly disappeared from the stage and only found an indirect continuation in 1982 with the supergroup called Asia, which switched to the then mainstream rock music.

    With the debut, the U.K. retained a "proggy", fiddly and bulky jazz-rock of the 1970s, which with "In the Dead of Night" offers a mega-track that is bursting with an energy and joy of playing in a crooked rhythm. They let off steam in the sound of layered synthesizers, which was state-of-the-art for the time, and heave themselves up to a memorable masterpiece. It could almost have the impression that Eddie Jobson was able to give a new impetus to the 'symphonic'-complex sound world of a dying style direction, as it were, as the messiah. Divided into a three-part overall concept, this composition resembles a bright fixed star that envelops the entire solar system in glistening light. All dark adversaries of progressive music at the end of the 70s seem to pale in the face of this sound.
    Allan Holdsworth breathed new life into the whole thing with his amazing jazz-rock guitar work. John Wetton offered a top vocal performance and with his crashing bass, together with Bill Bruford, provided a perfect rhythm section that has rarely existed in this form and will continue to exist in the future.
    "Thirty Years" is initially an inconspicuous contrast, but after the pompous widescreen sound of the first half it really gets going and impressively continues the jazz-rock approach.

    The instrumental "Alaska" with its keyboard pomp is another prime example of the possibility of Progressive music that was still absolutely current at the times of the Disco sound and Punk & New Wave histery, which at no point is concerned with rehashing old ideas in a nostalgic way.

    "Time to Kill" gives Eddie Jobson the opportunity to add accents to the short instrumental part on his electric violin. After the catchy, groovy vocal part, this number turns into a furious fireworks display. "Nevermore" lets the listener indulge in relaxed jazz rock and enchants with relaxed vocal interventions by John Wetton.
    "Mental Medication" puts a jazzrock-playful end to a memorable album in a relaxed pace at the beginning.
    U.K. meander safely through different style elements, understand themselves on calm, soulful parts as well as on jazzy, rocky, sometimes simple-straight, sometimes with 'symphonic' complexity. The compositions are intelligent and varied, the album sounds clean, differentiated and powerful. In essence, a great record from the end of the golden decade.

  4. #4
    This would be a dream to remix - especially in surround - but I believe the original tapes have long been lost...... oh well....

  5. #5
    Member Zeuhlmate's Avatar
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    I got it as a present 'then' because a music journalist didn't like it and gave me a promo copy with inlayed photos.

    My favorite track is Nevermore due to the fantastic chase between Holdsy and Jobson. Jobsons other-worldly sounds on the CS80 still strikes me as way ahead of its time.

    Lots of great moments and details, but I can understand why Bruford and especially Holdsworth left.

  6. #6
    Parrots ripped my flesh Dave (in MA)'s Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Zeuhlmate View Post
    Lots of great moments and details, but I can understand why Bruford and especially Holdsworth left.
    BB Timeline: "Following a chaotic free concert at Penn’s Landing, Philadelphia, Wetton “fires” Bruford and Holdsworth, but the band limps on to its last gig in West Hartford, CT. on October 8th. A short, fiery furnace."

    Nice review by Sturgeon's Lawyer, though I probably disagree with a fair chunk of it.

    My recollection is that "Alaska" was all Jobson for the first minute and a half or two.
    Last edited by Dave (in MA); 09-06-2021 at 01:03 AM.

  7. #7
    Member Zeuhlmate's Avatar
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    Holdsworth left because he didn't want to play the same solo over and over at concerts.

  8. #8
    Subterranean Tapir Hobo Chang Ba's Avatar
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    An excellent album pretty much all around.
    My favorite fortune cookie read: "The only way to be successful on the internet is the keep the assholes preventing valuable discussion and eliminate the discussion itself."

    Never let good music get in the way of making a profit.

  9. #9
    Member Just Eric's Avatar
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    All time favorite for me that came along when things were getting grim for Prog.
    Duncan's going to make a Horns Emoticon!!!

  10. #10
    Among my favorite Prog albums ever, it still blows me away after 20+ years of listening to it. The songs that were my favorites back then (Dead of Night suite, Alaska) have given way to pieces like Mental Medication and Nevermore (those traded solos at the end never get old), but it's always a treat for me to spin this. A tragedy they didn't do more with this lineup, imo.

    Bill

  11. #11
    Member Boceephus's Avatar
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    One of my favorite albums of all time. My biggest regret was passing on them playing Detroit, thinking I’d see them next tour…damn!


    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk

  12. #12
    Quote Originally Posted by Boceephus View Post
    One of my favorite albums of all time. My biggest regret was passing on them playing Detroit, thinking I’d see them next tour…damn!
    Ouch, that's a tough one! I feel that way about passing on seeing ELPowell when they toured, but missing UK is worse.

    Bill

  13. #13
    Jazzbo manqué Mister Triscuits's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Sturgeon's Lawyer View Post
    I saw the three-man version of this band open for Tull in 1979, and "Alaska" is my most vivid memory of that show.
    I saw that twice, on two separate Tull tours the same year: in the spring, on the final leg of the Heavy Horses/Bursting Out tour, and in the fall, on the Stormwatch tour. What particularly sticks in my mind about the second go-round is that they played an unreleased instrumental piece in 7/4 time.

  14. #14
    Member Paulrus's Avatar
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    Never heard of it.
    I'm holding out for the Wilson-mixed 5.1 super-duper walletbuster special anniversary extra adjectives edition.

  15. #15
    Member dropforge's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mister Triscuits View Post
    I saw that twice, on two separate Tull tours the same year: in the spring, on the final leg of the Heavy Horses/Bursting Out tour, and in the fall, on the Stormwatch tour. What particularly sticks in my mind about the second go-round is that they played an unreleased instrumental piece in 7/4 time.
    This is unreleased. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8-54i-sumNo

  16. #16
    Member since March 2004 mozo-pg's Avatar
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    A stone cold prog classic, love every note.
    What can this strange device be? When I touch it, it brings forth a sound.

  17. #17
    UK certainly changed my life!!

    Memorable moment was when Frank Zappa came to visit the mix session - what a charismatic presence....
    Last edited by ollie woodpecker; 09-06-2021 at 04:09 PM.

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    ^Wow, that is a wonderful piece of information. Any additional information on how did this happen? Any relation with Eddie Jobson having played with him previously?

  19. #19
    Jazzbo manqué Mister Triscuits's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ollie woodpecker View Post
    Memorable moment was when Frank Zappa came to visit the mix session - what a charismatic presence....
    I always thought "Presto Vivace" was Eddie showing what he learned from Zappa.

  20. #20
    Quote Originally Posted by Mister Triscuits View Post
    I always thought "Presto Vivace" was Eddie showing what he learned from Zappa.
    I think it might have had some kind of work-in progress Zappa nickname while it was being recorded...

  21. #21
    I read about Zappa's visit somewhere (Bruford's autobio I think) and he became friendly with Holdsworth after that.

  22. #22
    Parrots ripped my flesh Dave (in MA)'s Avatar
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    Zappa's opinion was that rating guitarists was a stupid hobby, but I heard him mention Holdsworth at least a couple of times back when asked about what other guitar players he liked during interviews.

  23. #23
    Another life changing moment for me at Penn's Landing that night. I take the UK album and concert as a whole to this day, the songs, the memory the weather, Philadelphia, unforgettable! I love everything about it.

  24. #24
    The three UK CDs comprised my very first online shopping purchase, way back in 1994. I don't remember the name of the business but their online storefront was a Gopher interface (as HTML-based websites were still quite rare at that time).

    I got rid of them all sometime in the early 2000s, later regretted it and bought back the two studio albums when I saw them used several years later. Still haven't replaced the live album. It's not something I would ever actively seek out but would buy if I ever happen to see it again.

  25. #25
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    Quote Originally Posted by mozo-pg View Post
    A stone cold prog classic, love every note.
    Seconding that emotion on this stellar release.

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