As we approach the release of "Slow Rust" - here's the first of 10 albums which I feel have been part of the inspirational makeup of The Tangent over the years. It's not a "best of" or a chart, there is no Number One. I just decided to start with this one.
The eponymously titled "UK" is, was and probably always will be one of my fave albums ever. Arriving late in the day - after the punk explosion had happened and during the Media industry's wanton rejection of the previous ten years - the short lived lineup of UK that made this incredible record managed to do something new with the genre, create one last classic band of the original era - and make it count among the best.
The musicians involved on the record had all played their parts in the shaping of progressive rock in other bands. It looked even at the time as though this was one of these bands that looked good on paper but would fail in reality, Far from it. The Tail Gunners of 70s progressive rock took one final adventurous leap and created an album which I've always felt was not just a masterpiece, but a very listenable one, one that can give pleasure on many levels and in many situations.
If UK was a "supergroup" one thing it wasn't was a shoot out between the different members. Well - if it was, that was a behind the scenes thing. The record had its own sound, identity purpose and character that defined UK as a standalone BAND. It used many Progressive Rock hallmarks, but managed to add a whole load of new harmonic structures that had perviously been mainly known in the Jazz Fusion scene. Particularly the Weather Report/RTF area. The voicings of Holdsworth and Jobson together were a fabulous combination - creating a glorious new shiny architecture from the coming together of their careers. Bruford's playing at its best on this album drove it excitedly all along and Wetton - before the pop/rock of Asia was able to weave this magnificent display of musicianship into really good songs.
Great choruses like that of "In The Dead" and "Time To Kill" mixed with mega-prog workouts like "Alaska" which easily gave the ELP of that day a run for their money, into staggeringly beautiful harmonic/melodic arrangements found in "Mental Medication"
In Technical terms - I'd say that on this album, the Polyphonic Synthesiser as a musical instrument made its first totally successful contribution to Progressive Rock - sounding much more comfortably integrated to the music and generally purposeful than Yes or ELP had managed to to incorporate it - Keith had simply "replaced the organ" with his and Wakeman just had more notes to play with... Jobson thought about the instrument as something new and really got the best out of it in those times. Personal opinion of course.. but there it is.
All of us in the band like UK. How could we not. I remember discussing the band with Roine as we blueprinted what we wanted The Tangent to BE - right back at the start. Luke has been a fan since I had the honour of introducing them to him - he was already a Holdsworth fan of course.. but I remember Luke playing me some Planet X (which I enjoyed a lot) and i remember saying to him that the harmonic content was often very reminiscent of UK. He explored, as he always does, and came out a mega fan of a band whose career had started and ended decades before his own birth.
Theo's a big fan too, in fact I think that Theo is actually more into the SECOND album. That one is often sidelined... but it was a really astonishing album too - despite the lineup having changed so much.
Jakko was most helpful with our experiments with UK stylings back on "Not As Good" - taught me a lot about the voicings needed to create that type of thing - and of course contributed as a musician himself in many ways - occasionally recalling Holdsworth's role in UK. The figure that opens the song (the keyboards riff) "Crisis" was originally Hammond Organ. It went "Yamaha CS80 Polysynth" at Jakko's recommendation and his guitar parts made me revoice many of the chords to make that tune one of the most successful Tangent Prop (sic) songs.
Sadly - we've lost two of the band in recent times - I know Luke was most affected by Alan's passing. he recorded a little tribute from "Mental Medication" - I don't know if he wants to share it on this thread, but he's more than welcome
The Tangent has over the years been very influenced by UK - I can't see "A Crisis In Mid Life" without that set of influences - and the start of "the song A Place In The Queue" itself is shamelssly derivative of "Danger Money".
UK are to me a shining example of true fusion. A band who could have so easily failed and just taken the "lets all show off" road and noodled us into submission. Instead, they made songs and compositions which were highly intelligent, listenable and exemplary specimens of what Progressive Rock Music was capable of doing.
Any thoughts.... anyone?