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Eclectic Prog

4.10 | 556 ratings

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Prog Reviewer
3 stars 'Mental medication... need your inspiration...'

U.K.'s debut album was one of the strangest surprises of 1978. It was too good to be 'corporate rock', although it threatened, sometimes, to topple over the edge. It sounded less poetic, and less gripping, than King Crimson's best ballads with John Wetton on vocals, although Wetton (and Bill Bruford) were probably trying to recreate some of traditional King Crimson's more lyrical moments. Finally, it was far less jazzy than Bill Bruford's solo album FEELS GOOD TO ME, which had appeared in 1977, even though it featured that album's main soloist (Allan Holdsworth) in a starring role. A mixed bag, that's what it was.

U.K. may have its moments of tedium, but the astonishing thing is that, on the whole, it works extremely well. It is no great masterpiece, it's not going to change anyone's life, but it's full of catchy tunes, energetic playing and inspired solos, be it on electric guitar, electric violin or on Eddie Jobson's wonderfully old-fashioned keyboards, with their very 'fat' sound. It even contains moments of unexpected, near-melancholic beauty.

I'm not surprised this incarnation of the band didn't last. Record companies must have longed for U.K. to develop ever more commercial material (Wetton took the hint when he helped found the hair-raising Asia), but there was no way a restless explorer like Holdsworth was going to travel the seven seas churning out the same old tunes each night. Holdsworth and Bruford soon left the fold, with the latter trying desperately to turn his highly adventurous band 'Bruford' (also featuring Dave Stewart and Jeff Berlin) into a viable proposition. When Bruford and Holdsworth finally parted ways, the latter reverted to playing colleges and medium-sized clubs, allowing other old-timers to turn themselves into shameless stadium-rockers.

Anyhow, this album should definitely be in the record collection of everyone who's interested in the careers of the four musicians involved. Recommended; three and a half stars.

fuxi | 3/5 |


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