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Eclectic Prog

4.12 | 571 ratings

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Prog Reviewer
5 stars Review Nš 184

"U.K." is the eponymous debut studio album of U.K. and was released in 1978. The group was formed by four well known prog rock musicians who had already played into other bands. It features John Wetton who formerly have performed with Family, King Crimson, Uriah Heep and Roxy Music, Eddie Jobson who formerly have performed with Curved Air, Roxy Music and Frank Zappa, Bill Bruford who formerly have performed with Yes, Genesis and King Crimson and Allan Holdsworth who formerly have performed with Tempest, Soft Machine and Gong. There had been an attempt to form a band in 1977 with Wetton, Bruford and Rick Wakeman. Still, that never happened because Wakeman didn't want it to happen. The premise was Wetton bring a musician of his choice, and Bruford would do the same.

So, the line on the album is Allan Holdsworth (guitar), Eddie Jobson (electric violin, keyboards and electronics), John Wetton (vocals and bass) and Bill Bruford (drums and percussion).

"U.K." has six tracks. All lyrics on the album were written by John Wetton, except "Mental Medication" which was written by Bill Bruford. The first track "In The Dead Of Night" with music written by Eddie Jobson and John Wetton is a suite which is divided into three parts: "In The Dead Of Night", "By The Light Of Day" and "Presto Vivace And Reprise". "In The Dead Of Night" opens the album with keyboards and bass. The bass has an unusual rhythm on top with Jobson on keyboards and Bruford on drums seem to play in counter rhythm. Wetton sings very nice and powerful as usual and Holdsworth plays a great guitar solo. This is a song that was also released as a single to promote the album. "By The Light Of Day" is a soft and slower part of the suite full of synthesizer sounds. This is a very beautiful ballad with the same melody line but with a completely different rhythm. Jobson adds something very beautiful with his electric violin very well supported by Holdsworth's guitar. Nice and beautiful synthesizer waves end this second part. "Presto Vivace And Reprise" is announced by several drum riffs and a psychedelic keyboard part. Since this part has finished, returns the reprise of the main theme. This is a suite absolutely amazing. The second track "Thirty Years" with music written by Eddie Jobson, John Wetton and Bill Bruford begins with keyboards and an acoustic guitar with Wetton singing at the top of his voice. After over three minutes the musical atmosphere changes radically, with guitar and keyboard solos followed by an inventive drumming by Bruford. Towards the end, the initial melody returns, totally supported by the entire band with special mention by a great guitar solo by Holdsworth. The third track "Alaska" with music written by Eddie Jobson is a very dark and mystical track. It's an instrumental piece of music dominated by the keyboards of Jobson. However, it has room enough for the rest of the band shine on the track especially Holdsworth. The fourth track "Time To Kill" with music written by Eddie Jobson, John Wetton and Bill Bruford is directly lead to the previous track. This is a very interesting track with several musical changes all over the song. In the middle of the song there's a break with another great violin performance by Jobson. The fifth track "Nevermore" with music written by Eddie Jobson, John Wetton and Allan Holdsworth opens with an acoustic guitar and keyboard performances. A nice and beautiful duet between Jobson and Holdsworth forms the highlight of the song. The last part of the song consists of an atmospheric of several soundscapes. The sixth and last track "Mental Medication" with music written by Eddie Jobson, Bill Bruford and Allan Holdsworth begins with an unusual vocal line accompanied by a jazzy guitar's sound. In the middle of the song there's a beautiful part with bass and drums on top of which a guitar solo is performed. After a small break is the violin that turns again. This is the other song of the album which was chosen to be released as a single.

Conclusion: U.K. is one of the few big progressive super groups formed in the 70's. It's with Emerson, Lake & Palmer one of the two best progressive super groups formed in those times. It became the last great progressive rock band formed in the classic rock years. The musical skill of these four gentlemen is a joy and a blessing for our ears and is rare and truly amazing to see a band producing such a special crossover between so diverse musical styles with such a unique and quality sound. U.K.'s debut stands as a very strong and unique progressive album released in a time where most progressive rock bands were losing their steam. It's really a pity that U.K. had such a short existence and these four musicians only have released this studio album and a couple of live albums. This is a truly great album, one of the most underrated, blending genres together into a rich and complex amalgam of sounds. There's not a bad moment on this album. It's excellent from beginning to end. Since "U.K." was made in the end of the golden era of the prog rock music, it's hard to believe and a shame, that a music lover doesn't have this album in their collection. This is really an awesome line up and the musicianship is absolutely great. So, do yourself a favour, buy or simply check it, as you wish.

Prog is my Ferrari. Jem Godfrey (Frost*)

VianaProghead | 5/5 |


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