KamerTunesBlog

Revisiting my extensive music collection, one artist at a time

Satur-debut – U.K. “U.K.”

U.K. was a short-lived supergroup that formed at the wrong time. Bridging the gap between King Crimson’s groundbreaking early- to mid-’70s work and Asia’s more commercial approach to progressive rock in the ’80s, with bassist/vocalist John Wetton as the common thread, neither radio stations nor the general public cared about this type of music during their brief existence in the late-’70s. Their music can be challenging but it’s also very melodic, and the musicianship is simply incredible. Joining Wetton on their 1978 debut was his former King Crimson bandmate Bill Bruford on drums, violinist/synth player Eddie Jobson and guitar genius Allan Holdsworth. I wrote about their two studio albums in my Two And Through post in 2014, and I’ve excerpted the parts about the debut below.

For more information on this series, please read the opening paragraph of the first post, which featured the debut album from Led Zeppelin.

 

 

From TWO AND THROUGH – My Favorite Two-Album Artists:

It’s no secret that I love progressive rock. Before I even knew it was a subgenre I was a fan of 70s giants Yes, Emerson Lake & Palmer, Genesis, Pink Floyd and King Crimson. In the ‘80s it was bands like Asia, Rush & Marillion, and from the ‘90s through today a prog renaissance has been taking place. There were a few eras, however, when “Prog” was considered a derogatory 4-letter-word, the first of these coming in the second half of the ‘70s when punk bands did everything in their power to topple the stadium-conquering dinosaurs, many of which were prog bands. The short-lived U.K. were the bridge between the mid-‘70s edition of King Crimson and the commercially successful Asia in 1982. Singer/bassist John Wetton & drummer Bill Bruford, both members of that Crimson lineup, teamed up with former Roxy Music/Frank Zappa violinist/synth player Eddie Jobson and jazz/fusion guitar god Allan Holdsworth to form U.K. Their self-titled debut has a dark, heavy, metallic (but not “metal”) feel, with icy synths & Bruford’s hollow-sounding drums warmed by Wetton’s powerful yet soothing vocals (which he would later bring to Asia). There are also elements of synth-pop artists like Gary Numan & Ultravox, but the odd time signatures and extended running times keep it firmly in prog territory. “In The Dead Of Night” is the ideal introduction to this album, but once that draws you in you’ll want/need to hear the rest of this brilliant record that really has no contemporaries.

I’ve met a lot of fellow prog fans who love U.K., but I have a feeling they’ve been overlooked by many potential fans simply because they existed at a time when prog was at a commercial & critical low point. They should certainly be mentioned in any conversations about the greatest progressive rock acts of all time.

 

I’ve met a number of people who love U.K., all of whom are devoted prog-rock addicts like myself, so I know I’m not alone in my love for this group. I even have a t-shirt with the album cover which always elicits positive feedback whenever I wear it. I hope to hear from other U.K. fans but I’m equally interested in hearing from people who have never listened to them before. Don’t give up on the two longer tracks above, as they cover a lot of musical ground after their quieter intros.

Advertisements

14 comments on “Satur-debut – U.K. “U.K.”

  1. Aphoristical
    August 24, 2019

    I like this, although I haven’t heard it for awhile. Agree with with it being shoved into obscurity a little even though they have a great lineup – just out of step in the late 1970s.

    Like

    • I’m glad you enjoy U.K., Graham. A great but sadly short-lived band. I wonder if they would have ever been “in step” at a different time considering how unique their music was.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. christiansmusicmusings
    August 25, 2019

    Never heard of these guys before. Spontaneously, I would say it sounds intriguing enough that I want to hear more at the right time.

    I have a somewhat complicated relationship with prog rock. It’s not that I dislike it. Oftentimes, I just don’t find it very accessible, so it’s more of an acquired taste. Though based on what I’m hearing here, U.K. do not appear to be “an extreme” case! 🙂

    I guess it also depends on my general mood on whether or not I find it enjoyable to listen to prog rock. Sometimes, I just I need music that’s easier to process. Usually, this means shorter songs with good melodies/singing.

    Once again, even though I dig many genres, including classic rock, blues, soul and lately increasingly Americana, I guess at heart, dare I say it, I’m a pop guy! After all, it’s no coincidence The Beatles are my all-time favorite band.

    Like

    • I understand your feelings about prog-rock, Christian, but there are plenty of melodies & shorter songs in that “genre” if you search a bit. My definition of progressive rock is pretty broad, so I include artists like 10cc, Alan Parsons Project, Ambrosia and many other acts who had pop hits that included some quirky surprises. Most members of arguably the greatest prog band of all time, Yes, were all huge Beatles fans, even covering “Every Little Thing” on their debut, and they incorporated Lennon’s “Give Peace A Chance” and “Instant Karma” in “I’ve Seen All Good People.” A lot of people think prog is just a bunch of musicians showing off and writing long, esoteric pieces, but it’s so much more than that.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. 80smetalman
    August 25, 2019

    I vaguely heard of UK but never heard them. After listening to these tracks, I’m still not sure what to think of them.

    Like

    • They were a unique-sounding band that would not be for everyone, but if you’re looking for incredible musicianship and you like John Wetton’s voice there’s a lot to love about them.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Great that you featured this, and love this album. Interesting that you say they ‘formed at the wrong time’ though – in Bruford’s book, he says the band was actually a victim of its success, with this first album selling a few hundred thousand. Basically the split seems to have come down to musical/personnel differences, Wetton/Jobson on one side and Holdsworth/Bruford on the other. He says that the former pair wanted Holdsworth to basically play the same solos every night! Good luck with that…

    Like

    • Thanks, Matt. I had no idea this album sold that well. Of course in that era selling a few hundred thousand would have been a minor success, especially when you consider the Yes/King Crimson lineage. When I suggested that they formed at the wrong time, it was more about their legacy. A lot of people have gone back to discover prog (and prog-related) artists from the ’60s & ’70s, as well as the neo-prog bands of the ’80s, but these guys existed in a progressive no-man’s-land which has probably kept them from ever getting re-discovered by anyone other than dedicated prog-heads. That’s an interesting bit of info regarding the inter-band issues. If you have Allan Holdsworth in your band you let him do whatever the hell he wants to do…especially in those years before he discovered the synth-axe. Haha. RIP, Mr. Holdsworth.

      Like

  5. Vinyl Connection
    August 26, 2019

    Another ‘Snap!’ Rich. Under-rated and often overlooked.
    Not surprising we also align on this, both being big fans of the late Alan Holdsworth. 🙂

    Like

    • Alright, another musical connection with my follically-challenged musical brother from the other side of the world. It’s hard to imagine anyone with a love of great musicianship not loving U.K.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Alyson
    August 31, 2019

    No “Snap” with me but I think you’d have expected that. I wrote about a UK band this week from the late ’70s as I think you know but they were worlds apart from U.K. – Out of kilter with the times as you say and as we all know, it’s sometimes all about being in the right place at the right time.

    Like

    • Sorry for the delayed reply, Alyson. Just back from a business trip and catching up on many things. That’s why Satur-debut will be on hiatus this week. I figured the U.K. album would not be your cup of tea so I appreciate you checking in anyway. I read…and enjoyed…your Madness post but didn’t have time to comment. I liked them from the first time I heard “Our House”, which made it to our side of the Atlantic in ’83 I believe. I have a couple of compilations, one on vinyl and another on CD, as well as one of their individual albums…so I’m a fan but not a fanatic. I imagine they’re one hell of a fun band to see live.

      Like

      • Alyson
        September 8, 2019

        Hi – Forgot I left this comment actually as like you I’ve not had much time for blogging of late. Yes, Madness always were, and still are, a fun band to watch live. Wasn’t sure if their style really worked across the pond but it seems they did have a fair few chart hits. Good for them.

        I’m now reminded I still have another of your posts to visit so I’ll do that right now.

        Like

      • Madness are mostly considered a one-hit wonder here, with “Our House” cracking the Top 10. I can’t imagine anyone not loving that song. It looks like “It Must Be Love” made it to the Top 40 so they’re technically a two-hit wonder, but I think the average music listener of that time wouldn’t remember that song.

        Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

Enter your email address to subscribe to KamerTunesBlog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join 368 other followers

Archives

%d bloggers like this: