progressive rock supergroup U.K., released in May 1978 through E.G. Records and Polydor Records. It features John Wetton, Eddie Jobson, Bill Bruford, and Allan Holdsworth. "In the Dead of Night" and "Mental Medication" were both edited for single release. The album was well received by FM album rock radio and by the public during the summer of 1978. The LP sold just over 250,000 copies by 1 September 1978, with further sales thru the balance of the year.
In 2015 Rolling Stone magazine ranked it as the 30th best progressive rock album of all time.
This band represents a vital piece of the wonderfully incestuous history
of English progressive rock. As any fan knows, members of the UK prog
scene tended to move freely from one band to another, creating all sorts
of interesting cross-pollinations to the point that the genre's
evolution looks something like a geneaology chart.
Just to mention
two examples: John Wetton, formerly of King Crimson et.al., stopped by
here before going on to join the prog-veteran supergroup Asia, while
Bill Bruford brought credentials of Yes, King Crimson and others to
this outing. He also has had many other stops since.
This is an
excellent album that does not deserve its relative lack of attention
(both today and when it was released). It takes progressive rock in a
new, jazz fusion-oriented direction that can be seen to have led to
Brand X, among others.
As a teenager, I purchased UK in the 70s on
vinyl. It really took me two decades to develop a full appreciation
for its complexities, to the point that it now ranks as one of my great
progressive albums of all time. If you have any affinity for this
type of music (or great music in general), you won't regret adding this
album to your collection.
If you're a progressive rock fan, this disc is a treasure. Almost thirty
years after it's initial release, this album still sounds fresh and
leaves a stunning impact. When I first heard this I was listening to a
lot of heavy guitar oriented music and the ethereal layered keyboards of
Eddie Jobson made me form the initial opinion that this was mellow.
After hundreds of repeated spins this has become one of my favorite
discs, and even though there are many quiet passages it's far from
mellow. It just takes time to appreciate the depth of this music.
Clocking in a little over 46 minutes, this disc is full of smooth as
glass segues and matchless music with all band members contributing
and/or collaborating in the songwriting duties.
keyboard playing and occasional electric violin work is spot on. John
Wetton has a haunting vocal tone that is perfectly suited for this type
of music and his bass playing is awesome. Bill Bruford, the master
percussion player, pulls off many syncopated, impossible, drumming
maneuvers with ease. Allan Holdsworth is one of the most original guitar
players ever and his playing throughout this disc is amazing. It's a
shame that this lineup of U.K. lasted less than a year, but they
created, in my opinion, one of the best prog-rock discs ever.
In 1978 four extraordinary musicians came together to form the outfit
known as U.K.. Bill Bruford and John Wetton, from King Crimson, joined
Eddie Jobson, of Roxy Music, and fusion guitarist Alan Holdsworth to
create this dark, brooding but powerful recording. Progressive rock
fans held onto the hope that this could prove to be a new direction for
the genre. Unfortunately, it proved to be more of a last gasp as the
band split in two following this debut. Only Wetton and Jobson
remained and presented two uninspired follow-up recordings. This disc,
on the other hand, is exceptional and is well worth adding to one's
collection. It presents a creative and innovative marriage of
progressive rock to that of jazz-fusion while borrowing greatly from
the direction laid out by Wetton, Bruford and Robert Fripp in their
last collective efforts with King Crimson. Highly recommended.
In some ways UK represented
both the last hurrah of progressive music's golden age, and the standard
by which all other supergroups that followed would be judged. The
impeccable technical precision, complex yet modern arrangements, and
dynamic live performances made them an overnight legend whose reputation
has far outlasted their brief existence. No other supergroup,
progressive or otherwise, has had such an immediate and lasting impact.
band was formed in 1978 by bassist John Wetton and drummer Bill
Bruford, both fresh from the USA tour (and accompanying live album) of
KING CRIMSON. Keyboardist & violinist Eddie Jobson had also played
on the KC tour and album, but was better known for his brilliant work on
a string of ROXY MUSIC albums, as well as their seventies live album,
"Viva!". Wetton briefly secured guitar wiz-kid Eric Johnson for the band
as well, but Johnson's own project (the "Seven Wonders" solo album) and
the legal wranglings that were accompanying it would cause Johnson to
quickly withdraw and be replaced by another guitar virtuoso, Allan
Holdsworth, who had worked with SOFT MACHINE and GONG, in addition to
his solo work before joining UK. This was the first in what would become
a series of lineup changes before the band would disband for good less
than two years later.
The star-studded lineup had no trouble
securing a record deal, and Polydor released their self-titled debut on
the E.G. label that same year, which is often credited as the first
successful rock supergroup studio release ever. The music is
characterized by layered synthesizers, jazz-inspired guitars and bass,
and in general by exceptionally high-quality musicianship. The band
followed the release with a lengthy promotional tour.
would release a couple of albums under the BRUFORD BAND name following
this tour, and would eventually return to the KING CRIMSON lineup for
their "Discipline" release in 1981. Holdsworth also appeared on the
BRUFORD BAND releases, and would later issue a series of solo albums in
addition to a wide range of session appearances. Terry Bozzio (FRANK
ZAPPA, GROUP 87) would replace Bruford, and the trio would release the
band's second and final studio album a year later ("Danger Money").
Without a replacement for Holdsworth, this album suffered due to
overcompensation on violin and keyboards, and the band disbanded
following after the Japanese leg of the promotional tour. A live album
of that tour would be released shortly after, but the band was finished.
There were rumors of a reunion in the nineties, but despite the fact
that most of the members would work together on occasion following the
band's demise, no UK collaboration would occur. Wetton would go on to
commercial success with ASIA, and Bozzio would likewise strike it rich
with MISSING PERSONS.
UK generated a brilliant flash of
publicity when they formed at the end of the progressive music decade.
But the fickle and rapidly changing tastes of the public, record label
pressure to commercialize their sound, and other more lucrative
opportunities all combined to bring about a rapid end to a fascinating
lineup. GTR, ASIA, and many others would travel down the supergroup path
in UK's wake, but none would do it with more style.
UK deserve a
place in the Archives for the impressive resumes of its various
members, the essentially classic self-titled debut they issued in 1978,
and the influence they had over an entire generation of top-notch
progressive and rock musicians by piloting the concept of a super group
of musicians being brought together for the sole purpose of capitalizing
on each other's sounds. Tracks Listing
In The Dead Of Night (Suite):
-1. In The Dead Of Night (5:38)
-2. By The Light Of Day (4:32)
-3. Presto Vivace And Reprise (2:58)
4. Thirty Years (8:05)
5. Alaska (4:45)
6. Time To Kill (4:55)
7. Nevermore (8:09)
8. Mental Medication (7:26)
Total Time: 45:14
Allan Holdsworth – guitar
Eddie Jobson – keyboards, electric violin, electronics
John Wetton – bass, lead and backing vocals
Bill Bruford – drums, percussion