Follow TV Tropes


Music / U.K.

Go To
The original quartet.note 

"Are you one of mine
who can sleep with one eye
open wide?"
"In the Dead of Night" (1978)

U.K. were a progressive rock supergroup formed in 1977.

Former King Crimson bassist/vocalist John Wetton note  , fresh off touring with Roxy Music and Uriah Heep, tapped former Crimson drummer Bill Bruford note  to form a new band towards the end of 1977. The two wrote in separate books how they started out playing as a trio with Rick Wakemannote  before the suits at Wakeman's label, A&M Records, quashed the idea.

After Wakeman dropped out, Bruford and Wetton decided to form a new group bringing in one past associate apiece. Wetton brought Roxy keyboardist/violinist Eddie Jobson aboard. Bruford, meanwhile, tapped Allan Holdsworthnote  who contributed guitar to his first solo record, Feels Good to Me.

The quartet's self-titled 1978 debut features a melding of Wetton's songwriting centered around ideas of a musician's life on the road with Jobson's classically-influenced violins and synthsnote , Bruford's polyrhythms, and Holdsworth's ad-hoc leads.

After disagreements arose while touring, Bruford and Holdsworth would leave U.K. in early 1979. They wanted to continue in an improv-centric direction while Jobson and Wetton called for performances more closely matching their studio recordings. Both Bruford and Holdsworth would go on to prolific solo careers, with Bruford being part of several reformed King Crimson lineups.

U.K. continued as a trio after Jobson brought on former Frank Zappa drummer Terry Bozzio to record their second album: Danger Money. The trio disbanded in 1980. Wetton recorded a few solo albums before being recruited for Wishbone Ash and Asia. Jobson would join Jethro Tull for their 1980 album A before embarking on his own solo career in electronic music and scoring for TV and film including Nash Bridges. Bozzio went on to form Missing Persons with his then-wife Dale and former Zappa associates Patrick O'Hearn and Warren Cuccurullo.

Jobson would keep several U.K. songs in his rotation over the decades. After one failed reunion attempt with Wetton, Jobson spearheaded the short-lived group UKZ featuring ex-Crimson Warr Guitarist Trey Gunn, Planet X guitarist Alex Machacek, drummer Marco Minneman, and singer Aaron Lippert. They only released one EP, Radiation, in 2009.

Jobson and Wetton finally reunited that same year for the former's "Ultimate Zero Tour." The tour also featured Gunn, Minneman, and ex-Crimson bassist Tony Levinnote . The Danger Money lineup reunited in 2011 joined by Machacek and other drummers including Minneman, Mike Mangini, and Holdsworth collaborators Virgil Donati and Gary Husband.

The band dissolved for good after their 2015 farewell tour following Wetton's terminal cancer diagnosis. Wetton and Holdsworth both died in 2017. Jobson paid tribute to his bandmates, as well as Keith Emerson and Greg Lake who died in 2016, in the "Fallen Angels" duet tour with Marc Bonilla.


  • U.K. (1978)
  • Danger Money (1979)
  • Night After Night (1980)
    • Night After Night Extended Edition (2016)
  • Radiation (2009, UKZ EP)
  • Ultimate Zero Tour-Live (2010)
  • Reunion: Live in Tokyo (2013)
  • Curtain Call (2015, release of 2013 concert)
  • Ultimate Collector's Edition (2016, Box Set)

U.K. and their music contain examples of:

  • Epic Instrumental Opener: The instrumental "Alaska" leads into "Time to Kill".
  • Fading into the Next Song: "In The Dead of Night" fades into "By The Light of Day", which in turn fades into "Presto Vivace".
  • Instrumentals: "Alaska" is the only track without vocals on their studio albums.
  • Lead Bassist: As with other groups with him as a member, John Wetton is on both bass and vocals in U.K.
  • Limited Special Collector's Ultimate Edition: The 2016 Ultimate Collector's Edition box set, only available through Jobson's Zealot's Club, contains 16 hours of music across 14 CDs and 4 Blu-Rays with the two studio albums, outtakes, demos, and lots of live shows. The set also included a 66-page book detailing the band's history.
  • Live Album: Their entire discography, bar the two studio albums and a few Wetton-penned singles.
  • Medley: The "In The Dead of Night" suite, consisting of "In the Dead of Night", "By The Light of Day" and "Presto Vivace and Reprise".
  • Paying Their Dues: "Nevermore", off the first album, recalls the grind of constantly gigging in Soho bars if the abstract lyrics can be parsed that way.
  • Rock Trio: Eventually became one, with Jobson on keyboards and violin, Wetton on vocals and bass guitar and Bozzio on drums and percussion.
  • Revolving Door Band: True to their lineage, U.K. centered around Jobson and Wetton with a whole bunch of virtuosic players from King Crimson, Yes, and countless prog/jazz bands over the decades in their orbit.
  • Self-Titled Album: Their debut.
  • Siamese Twin Songs:
    • "Alaska", an instrumental whose final chord is the scream that begins "Time To Kill".
    • "Presto Vivace and Reprise", the first part a fast and complicated instrumental and the second a reprise of "In the Dead of Night".
  • Something Blues: "Caesar's Palace Blues". Unusually, this is also a song with a Title-Only Chorus.
  • Spy Fiction: Danger Money is, in essence, John Wetton's crack at making a Dirty Martini-flavored concept album.
    • The title track establishes the unnamed protagonist as a "soldier of fortune" constantly on the run
    • "Rendezvous 6:02" has the protagonist run into a old soldier friend at the London Waterloo station who recalls fighting overseas in an unspecified war, most likely World War II.
    • "The Only Thing She Needs" has the protagonist recon a Bond Girl.
    • "Caesar's Palace Blues" has casinos with bugs everywhere hiding a criminal front for drug and child trafficking rings.
      "Don't worry if you're underage, they've special schemes for minors."
    • "Nothing to Lose" has the protagonist make a run for the border and shooting out searchlights in an unspecified area.
    • "Carrying No Cross" is a lamentation over the protagonist's wartime past and possible grips with PTSD.
      Uniforms were an allergy/they never felt quite right to me
      they conjured wartime Germany/and God knows we need that.
  • Title-Only Chorus: "In The Dead of Night", "By The Light of Day", "Danger Money", "Rendezvous 6:02" and "Caesar's Palace Blues" all just repeat their respective titles in their choruses. Most of the rest of the songs in their discography come close by repeating their titles in their chorus, but also having other lyrics.