At E.G. Records offices in 1979…
Record Executive: So, I hear you have a new prog-rock album for me?
Band Manager: Yes sir I do. It’s a follow up to U.K.’s debut album U.K.
RE: I don’t understand, isn’t the UK a country, not a band?
BM: It is a country, but it’s also the name of the band.
RE: Why would they name themselves after a country?
BM: Well, there’s been a few progressive bands so far who have used the name of the place they come from as the band name, for example, The United States of America, Kansas, England…
RE: OK and I guess these band members just happened to come from the UK.
BM: That’s right, and we thought “Nobody else has used that name yet, so we might as well go with that.”
RE: So tell me a bit more about the band.
BM: Well the band really started with the rhythm section of King Crimson who broke up earlier in the decade. Drummer Bill Bruford and bassist John Wetton decided to call in two of their pals, Eddie Jobson and Allan Holdsworth to create a progressive rock supergroup.
RE: Wow, I’ve actually heard of those people. I’m sure with all those famous names, their first album must have been a huge hit.
BM: Actually no, it only made it to number 43 in the British charts.
RE: Ouch, but the band maintained their musical integrity and soldiered on?
RE: Oh, what happened?
BM: Allan Holdsworth decided to leave the group over creative differences.
RE: Wow, what a bummer. I guess it was hard to replace someone of his calibre after he left.
BM: Actually it was super easy, barely an inconvenience.
RE: Oh, really?
BM: They decided to carry on as a trio.
RE: Oh wow, just completely getting rid of that guitar part.
RE: Well I guess with the rhythm section from King Crimson still intact, the band must still be pretty fearless.
BM: Actually, Bill Bruford quit as well.
RE: Wait, what?
BM: He decided he was better friends with Holdsworth, so he just said bye to the whole thing.
RE: OK, so two guys left?
BM: Yes but we did replace one of them.
RE: With who?
BM: I think you mean “With whom?”.
RE: I don’t care. Whom replaced him?
BM: That time you need to say “Who replaced him?”.
RE: TELL ME WHO THE NEW GUY IS!!!
BM: OK, chill out. They hired Terry Bozzio as their new drummer.
RE: Wait but isn’t he American?
BM: Sure is!
RE: Doesn’t that kind of ruin the point of the band’s name – U.K.?
BM: I don’t know!
RE: Fair enough. So with half of the original line-up missing, won’t it be difficult to hook fans into this completely different version of the band?
BM: Actually it’ll be super easy, barely an inconvenience.
RE: Oh really?
BM: Yeah, we’ll just start the album with THE MOST AWESOME INTRODUCTION TO A SONG EVER!
RE: Wow, I noticed you shouted that last bit.
BM: I sure did.
RE: Why did you do that, you weirdo?
BM: Because it’s just such an amazingly awesome use of slow synths and drums to show how epic and majestic this new version of the band can be.
RE: Fair enough, so does it tie into the rest of the song?
BM: Nope, not at all. In fact, there’s just a short reprise at the end of the track.
RE: So it’s basically just a pretentious way to make a song sound a lot more epic than it really is?
BM: Listen, when people hear this intro, they will pay money to buy the album and see if the rest of the album is like the intro. Which it isn’t.
RE: Oh, I like money, please continue.
BM: So anyway, the album is named after the first song.
RE: Isn’t that kinda lazy?
BM: What do you mean?
RE: Well with the first album, you couldn’t think of a name so you made it eponymous, and then you couldn’t think of a name for the second album so you just named it after the very first song?
BM: Please get off my back about this.
RE: I mean, with this level of effort, it’s no wonder that progressive music has seen a huge decrease in popularity over the latter half of this decade, a trend also driven by the increasingly prevalent view that progressive music is elitist and only favours intellectuals.
BM: If you don’t get all the way off my back about this I’ll make them turn this album into a disco record.
RE: Well actually, disco music has been very popular recently and we could stand to make more money that way.
BM: Have you ever heard a progressive rock band try to do disco?
RE: I can’t say that I ha…
BM: Remember last year?
BM: New Trolls’s Aldebaran?
RE: So the new album is named after the first song? That’s fantastic! What’s it called?
BM: It’s called Danger Money.
RE: Danger Monkey, I like it. Is it set at the zoo?
BM: No, Danger Money, it’s about a hitman.
RE: The whole album is about a hitman? That’s pretty dark.
BM: No, just the first song.
RE: Oh okay. I’m guessing there’ll be some dark lyrics about the moral implications of taking someone’s life for money.
BM: Actually no, it’s mostly cheesy lyrics cooked up from watching too many Moore-era Bond movies.
RE: Ohh, Moore-era Bond movies are tight! So what kind of lyrics are we talking about?
BM: *Rustling papers* Let’s see here… oh yeah. “I got a Luger strapped to my thigh, I got a Magnum as well”.
RE: Why would he have two different types of guns on him?
BM: I don’t know!
RE: Fair enough. Any other lyrics?
BM: “I can show you no mercy, well they don’t pay me for that”
RE: But surely showing people no mercy is exactly what you do pay a hitman for.
BM: Oh, whoops!
BM: Anyway, the next song is all about trains!
RE: Why would anyone want to listen to a song all about trains?
BM: Well John Wetton noticed this incredible thing when he was taking a train the other day.
RE: What was that?
BM: The word “rendezvous” rhymes with and has the same number of syllables as the time “6:02”.
RE: Oh, rhyming various words is tight!
BM: So anyway, there’s just a whole bunch of train imagery for people to enjoy here.
RE: Lots of different train stations mentioned I presume?
BM: No, actually just one.
RE: Oh really?
BM: Yeah, the band decided to double down on Waterloo as the focal point of the song.
RE: Any reason?
BM: Well they also reference the war at Waterloo.
RE: Kinda like ABBA then?
BM: No, this is completely different.
RE: How so?
BM: It just is! Please get off my back about this!
RE: OK, OK. So what comes next?
BM: So the band were thinking of trying to do something that had never been done before.
RE: What’s that?
BM: Have you ever heard of a song starting with a drum solo?
RE: Yes, plenty of songs. “Rock and Roll” by Led Zeppelin, “Stargazer” by Rainbow, “When the Levee Breaks” by Led Zeppelin…
BM: Ok, so it’s not the newest idea, but the intro is still going to sound pretty awesome.
RE: And what’s this song called?
BM: “The Only Thing She Needs”.
RE: And what is the only thing she needs?
BM: Ah, the lyrics never reveal that.
RE: Ohh, manufactured mystery is tight. So what makes this song remarkable?
BM: Well, there’s a bit of an extended outro to this song, the band decided to turn it into a showcase for their musicianship.
RE: Oh that sounds cool. How does it start?
BM: Well there’s a bit that builds in dynamics, featuring Bozzio’s frenetic drumming. This part is so good that it might trick you into thinking that he’s better than Bruford.
RE: Why would you phrase it like that?
BM: Well because after the inspired drumming during this section, he’s content to play a straight 4/4 beat for the remaining two and a half minutes of the song.
RE: Won’t that be a letdown to the audience?
BM: No, because there will be a keyboard solo to take people’s minds off it.
RE: I guess that works. What next?
BM: We have a song called “Caesar’s Palace Blues”.
RE: Like the Las Vegas casino?
BM: That’s right, just a send-up of Las Vegas as you might expect.
RE: And does it have a blues style sound?
BM: Actually not at all. Eddie Jobson does play a lot of violin though.
RE: Oh so it’s more of a sombre song?
BM: Well at the beginning it is. But then after a minute it becomes really upbeat and doesn’t return to the sombre feel.
RE: Ok this just sounds like a confused mess. What comes next?
BM: Well the band are more aware than ever that the prog scene is crashing down right now in 1979, and they would actually like to make some money from this record.
RE: Did you say money?
BM: I sure did! So they’ve put a pop song on the record.
RE: In what way is it pop?
BM: Well it’s substantially less complex than their other tunes, less than four minutes long, has a catchy hook, etc.
RE: Won’t that seem completely out of place with the rest of the record?
BM: It might, but the band did employ a couple of prog measures to keep fans satisfied.
RE: Like what?
BM: Oh you know, having a 12/8 intro and instrumental section and having an organ solo.
RE: Yep, that should absolutely keep prog fans happy.
BM: Besides, Wetton is pretty sure he wants to enter the pop world and make a bunch of money in the 1980s, and he reckons he should start putting a few pop songs here and there to make it look like an artistic transition.
RE: Ohh, foreshadowing a future career in pop music is tight! So what comes after that?
BM: Well, since the last two songs were both under five minutes, the band decided they just had to do a twelve-minute epic.
RE: Why’s that?
BM: Well some fans of progressive rock will only buy an album if there’s a song longer than ten minutes on it.
RE: That seems like a pretty arbitrary rule to go by.
BM: Perhaps, but it’s also a quick way to see if a band is going to do proggy stuff on that record.
RE: So what’s the song called?
BM: It’s called “Carrying No Cross”.
RE: Can we listen to it?
*Twelve minutes and twenty seconds later*
RE: Wow, that was an incredibly moving song about World War Two.
BM: What do you mean?
RE: Just, all those lyrics about the war, it really made you think, y’know?
BM: Which lyrics?
RE: I mean, wasn’t there something about wartime Germany?
BM: Yeah, but Wetton was only using that to describe some uniforms he didn’t like.
RE: Oh wow, I really read the subject matter of this song completely wrong.
BM: What did you think of the rest of the song?
RE: It did just seem like through the slow lyrical section, we were simply waiting to get to the good instrumental bit.
BM: But wasn’t the instrumental good?
RE: So good!
BM: And the lyrics?
BM: Well anyway that’s the end of the album.
RE: I guess it will have some value to the rapidly dwindling numbers of prog fans out there.
BM: Yes, and it will also keep Wetton’s name relevant whilst he prepares for that career in pop I was telling you about.
RE: I guess he would be forming a new band then?
BM: That’s right, we were thinking of a different supergroup, featuring even more well-known prog rock stars.
RE: But won’t prog rock fans be disappointed when their favourite prog rock stars aren’t playing prog rock but just simple pop music?
BM: I don’t know!
RE: Fair enough. And does he have a name in mind for this pop group?
BM: Not yet.
RE: That’s fine, just as long as he stays away from geographical names…
01. Danger Money (8:15)
02. Rendezvous 6:02 (5:00)
03. The Only Thing She Needs (7:55)
04. Caesar’s Palace Blues (4:45)
05. Nothing to Lose (3:58)
06. Carrying No Cross (12:20)
Total Time – 42:09
Eddie Jobson – Keyboards, Electric Violin
John Wetton – Bass, Lead & Backing Vocals
Terry Bozzio – Drums, Percussion
Record Label: EG/Polydor Records
Catalogue#: POLD 5019
Date of Release: March 1979