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UK - Danger Money CD (album) cover




Eclectic Prog

3.72 | 325 ratings

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4 stars 1979's DANGER MONEY was UK's second and final studio recording, and, while not quite as strong as its self-titled predecessor, it is still a tasty slice of late-70s progressive rock. By this time, two of the mainstays of the original lineup, Bruford and Holdsworth, had left to pursue other projects. (Two such inventive and sought-after musicians would never lack for work.) For my ears, much of what was best about the initial incarnation left with them. The fusion-esque flavourings that Bruford and Holdworth had brought to that heady mix are absent -- Holdsworth has not even been replaced: there is no guitar on this disc - jazz-inflected or otherwise. Also, as good a drummer as Zappa alumnus Terry Bozzio unquestionably is (I can find no fault with him, except to say that "he's not Bruford"), his sound is not immediately identifiable like Bruford's, nor as grounded in classic prog. Yes, Bozzio does a fine job, but who could really replace a Bill Bruford? That's a very tough act to follow!

Thus, inevitably, with such a major change in membership, DANGER MONEY is a somewhat scaled-down version of its "older brother," but it is nevertheless a very worthy addition -- and swansong - to UK's regrettably diminutive catalogue. Some of the material to be found here is a trifle more commercial and less challenging than that of the terrific first effort, but the disc still well merits a place in the dedicated prog fan's playlist.

The album gets off to a rousing start with the title cut, which portrays a hired assassin musing about - and cynically justifying - his unorthodox vocation. Jobson's driving organ -- ably buttressed by Bozzio's pounding drums -- dominates the mix, and this one begs to be played loudly. It's eight minutes of pure fist-pumping, arena-rocking power prog!

Things slow down for "Rendezvous 6:02." This lovely, bittersweet song has long been a favourite of mine (I'm a sucker for sentiment). Jobson's simple but effective piano melodies are beautiful, and nicely complement Wetton's vocals, which (going back to his Crimson days, and songs like "Exiles," "Book of Saturdays" and "The Nightwatch") I've long found to be especially well-suited to ballads and softer, more understated selections.

Next up is the frantically-paced, multi-part and jam-packed-with-prog-tricks "The Only Thing She Needs." The infectious organ is at times highly reminiscent of Gentle Giant (at others of classic Purple) and the drums and violin are notably good on this one, which also demands the old high-volume treatment. Wowie zowie, progholes - crank it!

"Caesar's Palace Blues" is another strong rocker that starts off sounding like "Danger Money, Part 2," but soon establishes its own identity as a superb vehicle for Jobson's thrilling violin work. The final section really RAWKS - don't touch that dial!

Track five, "Nothing to Lose," at just under four minutes, has "attempted single and Asia forerunner" written all over it, but it's not a bad song, if a bit formulaic. (Still, there's arguably "nothing to lose" if you decide to skip this rather undistinguished number.)

Finally, "Carrying No Cross" brings the album to a compelling close. At over twelve minutes, this piece gives the band abundant room with which to weave some varied prog spells, but the time seems to fly past -- a sure indicator of strong songwriting. I find the powerful drums and keys-driven main section to be evocative of ELP, and fans of that important and influential "pomp" prog band should especially enjoy the epic qualities so masterfully displayed here.

Well, I may (just) prefer the former album with Bruford and Holdsworth on board, and I therefore initially contemplated giving this one only three stars, but upon re-listening as I write (and in view of the descriptors which accompany the ratings on this site), I can only conclude that DANGER MONEY is essential for the UK fan, and would be "an excellent addition to any prog music collection." No, despite what some may tell you: it wasn't quite "all over" for progressive rock at the end of the 70s, and DANGER MONEY provides resounding proof of that. Don't let the album's title or year of release scare you -- your precious prog dollars would be safely invested here!

Peter | 4/5 |


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