Hidden Treasures Part 1: U.K.

In the latter part of the 1970’s a British Super Group called UK, featuring John Wetton (bass vocals) from King Crimson, Eddie Jobson (keyboards/electric violin) from Frank Zappa, Bill Bruford (drums and percussion) from Yes and Alan Holdsworth (guitars) from Soft Machine, released a self-titled album of Progressive-rock/Jazz fusion.  I’ve never heard nor owned this album, though I’ve seen it a few times in record stores and of course, had no money to buy it at the time.  The album did receive critical acclaim and had two singles, “In the Dead of Night” and “Mental Medication” and those songs did chart fairly well.

UK

But the second album, which I do own, is the one that I’m going to focus on.  This album called “Danger Money” still featured Jobson and Wetton, but Holdsworth and Bruford had departed by this time.  They were now a three piece unit and featured an incredible drummer by the name of Terry Bozzio, who had also done a stint with Frank Zappa.

UK2

“Danger Money” charted even better than the debut album and featured the two fairly high charting singles “Nothing to Lose” and “Caesar’s Palace Blues”.  “Nothing” is a good song that has a sound of heavy keyboard layers and Terry Bozzio’s drum work which is on the level of the likes of Carl Palmer, Alan White and Cozy Powell, to name a few.  The song features Jobson doing a short violin solo, which to me gives the song a nice flair and Wetton’s vocals are always as smooth as silk; he’s been one of my favorite male vocalists for a long time.

“Caesar’s Palace Blues” features some of Jobson’s finest violin work on the album; with some interesting sounding finger plucking and a furious solo which gives the song a very intense feeling.  “Blues” is one of my favorite socio-political songs commenting on how people can get “gold fever” in a world of fantasy in places such as Las Vegas.  The lyrics are somewhat heavy, yet light hearted at the same time.  There’s a line in which Wetton says he “Nearly sold my shoes”, which to a certain extent can happen if you get too carried away.

Two other songs that didn’t really get any airplay (except for my old radio show, of course) are, “The Only Thing She Needs” and “Carrying no Cross”.  The song “The Only Thing She Needs” is actually almost like two songs merged into one.  I’ve never cared for the first part, but the second part is a jam session which is reminiscent of Emerson, Lake & Palmer, but with a sound that is uniquely U.K.  The guys just rip through this instrumental with seeming reckless abandon, but have a tight hold on things.  It’s a great listen.

The song “Carrying no Cross” rounds out this album and clocks in at nearly twelve and a half minutes.  It is a dark and melancholy piece which moves the listener through Europe after the Second World War.  I confess that I’m not entirely sure what the song is about, but it is both a moving and beautiful song that is a joy to listen to.

There are two other songs on this album, which I didn’t mention, the title track “Danger Money” and “Rendezvous 6:02”.  I haven’t gone into any detail about these two songs because they’ve never really impressed me much.  But they do exist, in case anybody wants to know.

“Danger Money” is a great Hidden Treasure for anyone who is into Prog from the 1970’s & 1980’s and can still be purchased from certain web sites and even some music stores can order it for you as well (sorry I’m not mentioning those names; no free plugs on this blog!).

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XHgqHrQBNCI

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GhIxwDImXuM

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ngqSL4tZGos

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