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UK - Concert Classics Vol. 4  CD (album) cover




Eclectic Prog

3.81 | 39 ratings

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4 stars For a band that made a mere two studio records, U.K. left an impressive impact on prog rock and its listeners, and is still mentioned in the same breath with monsters such as ELP and Gentle Giant. In their time, the band's uniquely cold, streamlined sound was a fresh take on the more organic sounds of Yes and Tull, and dared to push the technological envelope with synthetic eccentricities and cyber-prog cool. Though the group's other live release - the flat and flavorless 'Night After Night' - is more popular, this captures four A-list players during a brief and shining moment just before prog's demise and is a far superior (if less clean) performance.

And as with all good live albums, we get to peek into the true nature of a band and observe the naked reality of a live performance with all its potential pitfalls, miscues, flubbed notes and fumbled moments. We hear this on 'Alaska', a good keyboard-based track that gives the band a chance to warm-up, Eddie Jobson's electric violin coming through nicely, Bruford unshakable, somehow keeping the complex music together with John Wetton's bass. 'Time to Kill' plinks open and allows Allan Holdsworth to finally break through, and features some treacherous passages pulled-off gracefully by the boys. The infectiously odd meters of 'The Only Thing She Needs' are fun, showing off the act's robo-jazz syncopation, Wetton's heavy thudding and quite competent singing. By now they're in the swing of it and things are moving well, and we're treated to a sparkling solo from Holdsworth and some of Jobson's sweet piano. The giant 'Carrying No Cross', a huge, burdensome piece to recreate, is attempted with mixed results, missing Jobson's spectacular piano break and replaced by a lengthy but good space-jazz jam. The reflective 'Thirty Years' has Wetton's typically thick lyrics, saved by bubblegum videogame blurps and some killer riffs. The evening's highlights have to be 'In the Dead of Night' with death-defying showmanship, mistakes and all, and the killer 'Cesar's Palace Blues'.

By far the better of their official live issues... a great glimpse of this band unadorned by studio trickery, and at how music is constructed and reproduced.

Atavachron | 4/5 |


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