Allan Holdsworth, Greg Howe: new UK tour UK and old UK!

Rich Murray spotted this... lets hope it's true! I dug a little further on the interwebs. John Wetton's forum, dated Aug 29th:
"Let it suffice to say that we are talking,and that's as much as I can tell you at the moment. In itself, that is progress, so we'll just take it slowly, and see how it transpires. I don't know who else will be involved, or when, or even if it would be called 'UK', so please just chill with it. We'll let you know if,and when,anything is firm. Next year is very busy for me, and now I have an Asia record to make, so please keep expectations at zero on this (UK) project. It's a breakthrough that Ed and myself are communicating, so let's be grateful for that."


From Eddie Jobson forum:
Hello dear Concert / Festival Promoter, With great pleasure, we offer you the legendary band UK for performances throughout Europe in February / March 2010:

UK

Line-Up:

Eddie Jobson (Roxy Music, Frank Zappa): violin, keyboards
John Wetton (King Crimson, Roxy Music, Asia): bass / vocals
Greg Howe (Michael Jackson, Victor Wooten, Dennis Chambers, Enrique Iglesias): guitar
Marco Minnemann (Paul Gilbert, Nina Hagen, Freaky Fukin Weirdoz, H-Blockx): drums


Also spotted UK reissues!: http://www.allaboutjazz.com/m/article.php?id=33851

U.K.
U.K.
Globe Music
2009 (1978)

If U.K. had released nothing but its debut--in fact, if it had released nothing more than U.K.'s 13-minute “In the Dead of Night” suite--it would have been assured a place in progressive rock history. Wetton's bass playing, a massive juggernaut of 1972-1974 King Crimson, is a little less so, but just as driving in the suite's powerful opening 7/4 riff. Bruford's kit always sounded like no other, and while the music here is more firmly structured than where his personal pursuits were leading, he imbues U.K. with ideas that can still surprise, even 30 years later and after many, many listens.

Holdsworth's tone, while moving towards the smooth, almost attack-less sound that he would favor in later years, still has a bit of edge, and his solo on the first part, “In The Dead of Night,” remains a highlight of the genre, his wammy bar creating near-vocal expression as he works inside and outside the song's melodic framework. Jobson's role is more an accompanist in the first part, but when the final movement, “Presto Vivace and Reprise,” takes off, his eminent virtuosity is in sharp focus, a knotty, high velocity piece of writing and playing that's one of the album's most viscerally exciting, especially when it resolves climactically back to the main theme.

While Bruford and Holdsworth differentiate U.K. from the trio records that followed, Jobson and Wetton were always the group's primary writers, making clear just how much performances can alter a group sound, even when it's writing this structured and complex. “Thirty Years” begins in a symphonic wash of string synths and Holdsworth on acoustic guitar, with Wetton's voice riding over Bruford's textural work. But when the group enters in time it's with inventive counterpoint, as Jobson's synth rides over a lithely strong bass/guitar foundation. Jobson's solo demonstrates the same kind of harmonic invention as Holdsworth--they may be living in the rock world, but their language speaks of other interests--with a similar vocal tendency made all the clearer when Holdsworth's solo follows; differentiable, but coming from a very similar space.

Jobson's live show starter “Alaska” follows; a dramatic synth intro that's in the same memorable league as Genesis keyboardist Tony Banks' enduring mellotron intro to “Watcher of the Skies” from Foxtrot (Atlantic, 1972). But, unlike Genesis, when the group enters there's a near-fusion attack that differentiates this version from its later incarnation. Still, jazz tendencies aside, Jobson's organ hints more at Keith Emerson, as the group navigates many changes but is still instantly memorable--singable, even. Segueing into the up-tempo “Time to Kill,” Jobson takes his first lengthy violin solo of the disc; flexibly roaming over another time-challenged bass/guitar riff, he builds inexorably, inevitably, to another climactic conclusion as Wetton's layered voices return to the chorus.

Compositionally, Holdsworth's contributions don't surface until the last two songs, both collaborative efforts with Jobson and either Wetton or Bruford. Overdubbing an undeniably jazz-centric solo over acoustic guitar voicings that, even at this relatively early stage in his career, displayed the distinctive and unmistakable harmonic vernacular that would influence more than one generation of guitarists, the episodic “Nevermore” ultimately finds its way to a more electric direction. Holdsworth solos beautifully in a call-and-response with Jobson that not only shows how well-matched they were, but how inventive a synth texturalist Jobson was (and continues to be).

“Mental Medication” closes the disc, another example of how jazz harmonies and progressive rock attitude can peacefully coexist. Shifting bar lines and oddly placed voicings aside, what's also remarkable is how lyrical its various themes are. With a solo from Holdsworth that's a remarkable testimony to his ability to play at lightening speed yet nevertheless create profoundly memorable ideas, it's a skill again matched by Jobson, who gets the final solo of the disc.

If a group can be assessed by its ability to create music that remains in the mind long after it's over, U.K. remains a resounding success; an album with nary a weak spot to be found. Jobson, Holdsworth, Wetton and Bruford came out of the gate with a strength and maturity that most groups take multiple albums to find. True, all of them were seasoned players by this point, but it's still rare to debut with an album that, 30 years later, remains this fresh and completely relevant.

U.K.
Danger Money
Globe Music
2009 (1979)

With its powerful, organ-driven opening title track, Jobson and Wetton--now with Bozzi in tow--made it clear that the face of the group may have changed, but U.K. still had plenty to say. Still, it's a more direct sound, with a greater attention to song form. Even with its thundering, dirge-like intro and fuzz bass-driven middle section, there's still a clear verse and chorus to be found in “Danger Money.” It's an approach that foreshadowed similar tendencies in progressive rock-turned-album oriented rock groups of the 1980s, and a Top 50 position on the Billboard Top 100 spoke volumes since, despite greater critical acclaim, a similar chart position eluded the group's debut.

Bozzio didn't possess the immediately recognizable sound that Bruford did--that would come later--but despite an ability to navigate Jobson and Wetton's sometimes challenging and idiosyncratic charts, his more simplified approach helped define the group's increasingly straightforward, rock-centric focus. Fans who'd seen the Bruford/Holdsworth incarnation of U.K. on tour were already familiar with three of Danger Money's six tunes: the Emerson, Lake and Palmer-tinged “The Only Thing She Needs,” violin-driven “Caesar's Palace Blues” (not a blues) and expansively episodic “Carrying No Cross”--the latter a rare instance where the studio version is actually longer than the live one, as heard on the unauthorized (and now out of print) Live in America (Abstract Sounds, 2008). Here, with Holdsworth gone and Bozzio in place of Bruford, all three songs took on a life of their own alongside the three additional Jobson/Wetton compositions.

As much as the more radio-friendly title track, softer “Rendezvous 6:02” and driving, anthemic “Nothing To Lose” focused on singable choruses amidst still virtuosic musicianship--and despite a less overtly jazzy harmonic core--U.K. remained unequivocally a progressive rock band. The lengthy instrumental middle section of “Carrying No Cross” is as impressive as anything on the group's debut, but this time the solo spot is Jobson's alone, as he combines a stronger penchant for organ with atmospheric synths and even a solo acoustic piano spot that's one of the album's high points. With Emerson, Lake and Palmer by now imploded by its massive egos, U.K. in many respects took its place as the keyboard-based progressive power trio on the strength of “Carrying No Cross” alone. It's an epic that makes even the poppier confections of half the album work in the larger context of a follow-up that will always be compared to its predecessor, but deserves to stand on its own merits.

U.K.
Night After Night
Globe Music
2009 (1979)

Sadly, however, the group's continued existence was not to be. Breaking up after nearly a year of touring worldwide, Jobson joined Jethro Tull for A (Chrysalis, 1980) before deciding to leave the world of performing for more than 20 years. Night After Night could be considered the stereotypical contractual obligation album, but it's far better than that.

Despite the loud applause inserted at the end of the opening title track, it's clearly a studio recording used to kick the album off with a radio-friendly single. It's also the most dispensable track on an album that proves U.K. remained a hot live act, even as a trio. The language was different, yes, but Jobson, Wetton and Bozzio were still capable of breathing another kind of life into some of U.K.'s best tracks, including an energetic “Alaska” and fiery “Time to Kill.”

The only other new material on the album is “As Long as You Want Me Here,” another sign that had U.K. continued on it would have gone down the road that led to Asia and GTR. But Jobson still kept a firm progressive edge to the trio's live version of “Presto Vivace” and “In the Dead of Night,” a live reversal of order in the “In the Dead of Night” suite that opened U.K.. Holdsworth played only a small roll in “Presto Vivace” anyway, but Jobson manages to build a synth solo on “In the Dead of Night” that's not exactly a replacement for the departed guitarist, but asserts that, with the keyboardist at the group's helm, it still had plenty of oomph.

A fiery “Caesar's Palace Blues” closes the disc, a feature for Jobson on violin that demonstrates the trio's strengths and weaknesses. Jobson was unequivocally the driving instrumental force--as capable as Keith Emerson, Rick Wakeman or Patrick Moraz at building a towering wall of keyboard sonics--and Bozzio may not have possessed Bruford's personality, but equally he was a fine replacement. Wetton was a strong bass anchor and dense co-conspirator for some of U.K.'s high drama moments, but lacked the elegance and finesse of the emerging Tony Levin--at this point, playing with both Peter Gabriel and Robert Fripp, and soon destined to join Fripp in the 1980s incarnation of King Crimson. Wetton's voice was always hit-and-miss live, however, something heard on live recordings with King Crimson and equally a problem here, as he often loses his upper range and struggles to hit some of the high notes.

Wetton may have been U.K.'s weak link in performance but he was far from inadequate, making Night After Night a compelling live document of U.K.'s second incarnation, played with great commitment and energy.

Comments

  1. I really must get hold of some Holdsworth ... UK's first album sounds like a pretty good contender. Any other suggestions?

    ReplyDelete
  2. Hi Raphael... I have so many... Allan is Allan on almost anything he plays... may be except for early Boxer CD's. His guest appearances are always good. I like Secrets, Wardencliffe Tower, Hard Hat Area... the list is a big one! If you get a chance listen to Allan with Zakk Wylde on the Derek Sherinian CD... Allan is awesome... plus Allan on Jens Johansson's CD Heavy Machinery... great CD. The first UK is brilliant. I found once I tuned into Allan I could listen to a whole bunch more music.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Some other must have CD's featuring Holdsworth:
    Bill Bruford: "One of a Kind" and "Feels Good to Me"
    Jean-Luc Ponty: "Enigmatic Oceans" and "Individual Choice"
    Frank Gambale/Allan Holdsworth: "Truth in Shredding"
    One of my favorite Holdsworth CD's is "Atavachron" featuring Holdsworth on the SynthAxe guitar midi controller.

    ReplyDelete
  4. yes I agree with all these... Like I said, Allan is Allan on almost anything he plays. If you like Allan you'll pretty much want to get everything he's ever played... at least that's what I did!

    ReplyDelete

Post a comment

Thanks for your feedback