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Eclectic Prog

4.11 | 718 ratings

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Easy Livin
Special Collaborator
Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin
4 stars The best of British

UK were a short lived ‚??supergroup‚?Ě with connections to and similarities with bands such as Asia, GTR, and Quango. The principal difference between those bands and UK is that UK did not see chart position as the barometer for success, instead making the sort of music which their collective backgrounds might suggest. It should be recognised that the decision to do so was particularly brave, given the perilous nature of prog's relationship with the music scene as a whole at the time of the band's formation in 1978. Incidentally, the band name is an abbreviation of United Kingdom, the real name of the country many mistakenly call England.

The principal common denominator for the band members is King Crimson, with Bill Bruford and John Wetton constituting half of UK. Journeyman violinist Eddie Jobson had also crossed paths with KC along with Curved Air and a number of other bands listed on this site. Guitarist Allan Holdsworth, who had cut his teeth with Jon Heisman in Tempest (UK) completes the quartet.

The album starts with a 13 minute track in three sections "In the dead of night". The piece is a curious amalgam of Yes, King Crimson, Uriah Heep and ELP. The ELP style is especially apparent in Wetton's delivery of the lyrics which sound similar to those on "Karn Evil 9, part 1". Wetton also brings with him some of the harder rock influences he had picked up during his more recent time with Uriah Heep. Jobson's keyboards backed by Bruford's drumming are very Yes orientated, the overall flavour of the track being uplifting and positive. The second part, subtitled "By the light of day" slows things down with Jobson adding some fine swirling synthesisers to Wetton's softer vocals.

The only other track on the first side is "Thirty years". This starts out with some soft reflective lyrics: "Sometimes we need time to spare, Feeling of missed opportunity, Spare a tear and douse your bridge... burning 30 years and on the ledge.... learning". This gives way to an improvised solo section featuring mainly Eddie Jobson on keyboards and violin.

While the majority of the songs are composed by Wetton and Jobson with occasional contributions by Bruford and Holdsworth, the instrumental "Alaska" is written by Jobson alone. The track starts with a "Fanfare for the common man" like synth fanfare leading into an organ driven workout. "Time to kill", which segues from "Alaska" appears to continue the Alaskan theme, although the location is not actually revealed. Lyrics such as "Sick of solitary holidays, 'cause I never get away from here" and "Holding up this cold caboose, captivity even takes my lucid thoughts away from me" tell a tale of depressive isolation.

The final two tracks see the under-employed Holdsworth finally contributing to the songwriting. "Nevermore" continues the theme of "Time to kill", a trip to Soho ("Oh to go Down to Soho, black tie night out or hobo outright") now even seeming attractive to the lyricist! Holdsworth's guitar finally makes a notable appearance towards the end of the track, but it is Jobson who continues to dominate the solo opportunities. The album closes with "Mental medication", probably the least inspired track on the album. While it has all the right ingredients, the instrumentation is muddled and ininspired.

In all, a fine one off album by a respected group of prog heavyweights. It is good to see that they decided to stick to the knitting, and do what they had done best in their various former bands. Unfortunately, 50% of the line up would be gone before the band's second and final album, with only Jobson and Wetton hanging around to record it.

Easy Livin | 4/5 |


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