Prog rock supergroup UK reforms for first North American appearances in decades

The reunited progressive rock supergroup UK — featuring trio-era members John Wetton, Eddie Jobson and Terry Bozzio — will retake American and Canadian stages for the first time in three decades. Dates in Japan will follow on what’s being dubbed the 2012 Night After Night tour.

Originally formed in England as a four-piece band in 1977 with keyboardist and electric-violinist Jobson (Roxy Music, Frank Zappa), vocalist and bassist Wetton (Asia, King Crimson), guitarist Allan Holdsworth (Soft Machine) and drummer Bill Bruford (Yes, King Crimson, Genesis), UK has been called the last important band in the classic prog-rock era.

“John Wetton is one of my Top 5 prog heroes of all of time,” Yes alum Billy Sherwood, who produced Wetton’s most recent solo album, told us in a recent SER Sitdown. “Crimson is one thing, and Asia is another – but, for me, UK is a monumental moment in music. That will forever stand the test of time in my book. For me, that just does it.”

[SOMETHING ELSE! INTERVIEW: John Wetton goes in-depth on a trio of his most important musical stops - Asia, King Crimson and UK - while frankly discussing how drinking nearly ruined all of it.]

UK’s ground-breaking eponymous debut album was followed by 1978′s Danger Money, which saw UK pair down to this same trio format as drummer Bozzio (Frank Zappa, Missing Persons) replaced Bruford. The band’s swan song, 1979′s Night After Night, captured the band’s memorable concert experiences.

By the dawn of the 1980s, the short lived, but deeply influential UK was no more. Still, careful listeners can hear their impact in bands from Yes to Rush, guitar heroes from Malmsteen to Vai, and hard-rock bands from Van Halen to Dream Theater.

Announced tour dates and venues are below.

Here’s a look back at our recent thoughts on UK, and members John Wetton and Bill Bruford. Click through the titles for complete reviews …

UK – DANGER MONEY (1979): This somehow reached my ears then on the strength of their made-for-radio single “Nothing To Lose.” I went and got Danger, and found that the rest of the record wasn’t quite as radio-ready, but it dazzled more. This has many the earmarks of a stereotypical prog-rock record: heavy-handed musicianship, oddball and shuffling time signatures, extended pieces and songs about weird or abstract topics. But UK was exceptionally tight, and the songwriting team of Wetton and Jobson produced tracks that had just enough hooks to linger in your brain, but unpredictable enough to keep you coming back to the songs to figure out what you missed the prior time. After revisiting their second record with a new perspective, I’m thinking that maybe it should be at least considered as a classic of the genre.

ONE TRACK MIND: JOHN WETTON WITH ROBERT FRIPP, “RAISED IN CAPTIVITY” (2011): Wetton rejoined his former King Crimson bandmate Robert Fripp for the standout title track on his most recent solo effort. Together, they begin the tune on an appropriately spacy note — as “Raised in Captivity” seems to float weightlessly into a crunchy bassline by Wetton. Fripp then adds a series of grinding, brilliant blurts while Wetton and former Yes multi-instrumentalist Billy Sherwood (Wetton’s main collaborator on this, his sixth solo album) settle into a more conventional arc — neatly approximating, really, the prog-pop of Asia, Wetton’s charttopping 1980s band. That is until Fripp returns, playing a solo of unpredictable momentum that sounds, by turns, like a nervy shiver then a panicky sneer, and then like stray-cat music. As Wetton repeats the soaring chorus, “Raised in Captivity” is finally subsumed once again by wave after dreamy wave of tape-looping Frippertronics.

BILL BRUFORD’S EARTHWORKS – VIDEO ANTHOLOGIES (2007): Bill Bruford’s Earthworks was, along with John Zorn’s Masada, one of my very favorite jazz groups — especially in its acoustic incarnation. At its heart is the amazing drumming of Bill Bruford, the escapee from the Yes camp in the early 1970s who fled to King Crimson where he found a refuge that would allow him to flex his creative muscles. Visual representation of this group has been unfortunately minimal until this 2007 release, as Bruford presented a set of DVDs comprised of footage from six concerts between 1991 and 2005 in the great Earthworks bands’ two incarnations (that is, acoustic and electric).

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Dates and venues for UK’s upcoming tour:

May 02 – Showcase Live, Boston, USA
May 04 – The Highline Ballroom, New York, USA
May 06 – Sound Stage, Baltimore, USA
May 08 – World Cafe Live, Philadelphia, USA
May 10 – Cabaret du Capitole, Québec, Canada
May 11 – The Gesù Amphitheatre, Montréal, Canada
May 12 – Sound Academy, Toronto, Canada
May 14 – The Triple Door, Seattle, USA
May 17 – Aladdin Theater, Portland, USA
May 18 – The Regency Ballroom, San Francisco, USA
May 21 – Mesa Arts Center, Phoenix, USA
June 15 – Club Citta, Tokyo, Japan
June 16 – Club Citta, Tokyo, Japan
June 17 – Club Citta, Tokyo, Japan
June 19 – Namba Hatch, Osaka, Japan

For more, go to Wetton’s web site: http://www.johnwetton.co.uk/

Something Else!

The Something Else! webzine, an accredited Google News affiliate, has been featured in The New York Times and NPR.com's A Blog Supreme, while our writers have also been published by USA Today, Jazz.com and UltimateClassicRock.com, among others. Contact Something Else! at reviews@somethingelsereviews.com.

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