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UK

Night After Night

Review by Gary Hill

The third, and final album by what was probably the first prog rock super-group (OK, other than ELP), this is a live album. Although Bill Bruford had left the band after the first album, his presence is still felt in the composition of a few of these tracks, but Terry Bozzio brings in his own style as the replacement. Eddie Jobson is stellar here, providing both keys, and some of the coolest electric violin you will ever hear (well, Jean-Luc Ponty is definitely a contender). The true anchor of the band is John Wetton, though. More so than any other member of the band, his stylings really pervade a lot of the material here. In many ways this has a lot of elements of both his earlier band, "Red"-era King Crimson, and the band he would form next, Asia. This can almost be looked at as the "missing link" between those two acts. It's really a shame these guys weren't longer lived as a band, as they did some really intriguing music.

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2004 Year Book Volume 1 at lulu.com/strangesound.

Track by Track Review
Night After Night
After a dramatic prog introduction, this settles into a more straightforward rock style that feels like the middle ground between Wetton's latter era King Crimson and the pop/arena rock of his post UK band Asia. This is catchy, and does have some solid prog moments. The instrumental break is especially cool.
Rendezvous 6:02
This one starts with sedate keyboard sounds. The cut moves into the verse segment, a rather dramatic, if a bit laid back movement. It is again fairly straightforward, but proggy enough for most fans of the genre. As it moves into the bridge, the true prog leanings come out. The band works through, shifting tempo and moving into a very dramatic instrumental excursion that seems to call to mind both KC and ELP and even Genesis just a bit. This is short lived, though, giving way to the original balladic segment.
Nothing To Lose
The fastest paced cut so far, the intro here really does have a lot of the earmarks of what was to be the trademark early Asia sound. Indeed, this one really feels as if it would have been quite at home on that band's first disc. It is a solid proggy arena rocker. It features a killer instrumental break made better by an awesome violin solo. That break gets a bit quirky at times.
As Long As You Want Me Here
The intro here is based in a slightly odd keyboard sound. Then the band launches into a syncopated segment that one could really consider about as definite a UK sound as anything. They use this as the verse, lending a very anti-pop feel to the cut. Yet the chorus resolution is very catchy and mainstream. This is one of the better songs on the album.
Alaska
Enigmatic and dramatic sounds start this, fairly quietly at first, then waves of sound dance like the Northern Lights overhead. The keys play in dramatic texture for a good amount of time. This instrumental seems to lead, as an extended intro, directly into the next piece.
Time To Kill
A flourish heralds the entrance of the rest of the band as they jump into a fast paced jazzy prog jam. This feels a lot like ELP. Suddenly an oddly tempoed riff interrupts the jam, then an all new bouncy segment becomes the verse of the track. Now the mode is more ELP meets King Crimson. It drops down to a tasty jam dominated by a violin solo. That segment is one of the longest and most intriguing instrumental sections of the piece and serves as the outro.
Presto Vivace
Percussion begins this one, then a very Zappaish keyboard and bass interplay joins in. The band plays in this direction for the duration of this instrumental. As "Alaska", this one essentially serves as the intro to the next composition.
In the Dead of Night
Starting off with the energy from the previous cut, this one bursts in with a great fast paced prog structure. It is classic UK at its best - dramatic, quirky and catchy all at once. It includes a more laid back and quite expressive instrumental segment.
Caesar's Palace Blues
A somewhat chaotic and hard edged prog interplay opens this, then the band drop down temporarily before picking the pace back up for a scorching violin solo. The vocals here are run over an intriguing syncopated rhythmic pattern. The violin punctuates the lines of the verse and continues to jam throughout much of the composition. This is a strong rocker with plenty of instrumental fireworks to please the most diehard prog fan. It is a great way to end the album.
 
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