UK - Danger Money [Talking Elephant - 2019]
The second album from legendary British progressive rock supergroup UK, features bassist/vocalist, John Wetton (King Crimson), keyboard player/ electric violinist, Eddie Jobson (Roxy Music/ Frank Zappa) and drummer/percussionist, Terry Bozzio (Frank Zappa). These three musical legends join forces to create one of the finest progressive albums of the late 1970s, originally released in 1979 at the height of the post-punk explosion it was an album that went against the grain but sounds so good because of that. Many progressive bands took to playing something akin to what we would today term yacht rock, not UK, they firmly stuck to their roots and unleashed a progressive beast of an album that deserves to be re-evaluated.
The album opens with the title track "Danger Money", and after a keyboard heavy intro gets proceedings underway, the track settles into traditional prog territory, that isn’t too far away from the classic Yes sound. It features some superb virtuoso playing from Eddie Jobson throughout, who is ably backed by both Bozzio and Wetton. "Rendezvous 6:02" is up next, taking things down a couple of notches for a track that has a real Gabriel era Genesis vibe to it. Once again, the song writing is superb, only equalled by the outstanding musicianship of all three performers. "The Only Thing She Needs" sees the band head back into Yes territory, this one has a definite "Yours Is No Disgrace" vibe to it, albeit with a hint of Steel Dan’s jazziness about it. It’s a great song with plenty of hooks to draw in the listener. "Caesar’s Palace Blues" is reminiscent of ELP in places, but Eddie Jobson’s violin playing is all over this one. He really does step up to the plate on this album both as a violin player and a keyboard player, his virtuosity taking centre stage throughout, whilst Wetton and Bozzio hold everything together with their impeccable timing. I think it probably worth mentioning that John Wetton’s voice is faultless throughout the album, and that really does come across on this track. "Nothing to Lose" features some outstanding ELO style vocal harmonies that lift this radio friendly Babys-esque slab of progressive soft rock beyond pastiche into the arena occupied by the originals. Once again Wetton’s vocals sound effortless and cool, a real strength of the album’s overall sound. The album closer "Carrying No Cross" is the longest on the album at over twelve minutes long. After a long ambient opening Wetton’s smooth vocals are added to the mix. The song turns into a long drawn out jam, allowing Jobson the chance to exercise his virtuoso keyboard skills to great effect. This is probably the album’s centrepiece and a great way to bring the album to a close, leaving the listener exhausted and more than a little in awe of the incredible musicianship on show from all three band members, but especially Jobson whose technical wizardry stands out here.
Overall, this is a very enjoyable slab of classic progressive rock that has been lovingly reissued by Talking Elephant. The production is top notch and the songs and musicianship is of the highest standard. This really does sound as though it was recorded in 1972 as opposed 1979 when it was actually released. If you are a big fan of those early Genesis, Yes and ELP albums then you’re going to love this. Highly recommended to all prog fansDarren Charles