Category: UFO

UFO – Force It

ARTIST: UFO                                 220px-Force_It_cover

TITLE: Force It

YEAR RELEASED: 1975

CHART ACTION: #71

SINGLES: Shoot Shoot, High Flyer

OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW: Let It Roll

LINEUP: Phil Mogg, Michael Schenker, Pete Way, Andy Parker, Chick Churchill

WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: An almost not-quite breakthrough record that has some tasty hard rock but is dragged down by ballads.

SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: Firmly establishing themselves as a hard rock band, featuring the guitar wunderkind Michael Schenkre, UFO almost struck paydirt with the fantastic “Shoot Shoot” and “Let It Roll”, getting airtime on late night TV and some radio airplay.

A very dry production (so dry, you can almost hear the kick drum pedal squeak) emphasized the basic tracks – especially Schenker and drummer Andy Parker, while Pete Way’s bass holds down the bottom and stays out of the way. No doubt it sounded great on 8-tracks blaring from muscle cars and Camaros and the like.

But, it seemed that every hard rock band had to do ballads – not ‘power ballads’, but actual love ballads. Judas Priest did, Sabbath did (“Changes” lest ye forget), and here Phil Mogg gets his. While they’re tastefully done, they take away from the ROCK that was building up. We needed the rock then – as we do now.

NOTES & MINUTIAE: The album cover by Hipognosis was controversial, and it actually featured Genesis P-Orridge and Cosey Fanni Tutti of Throbbing Gristle.

IS THERE A DELUXE VERSION: Yes, an outtake and live cuts.

GRADE: B: “Shoot Shoot” is an all-timer, but man, the ballads bring me down.

 

UFO – Phenomenon

ARTIST: UFO                             220px-UFO_album_Phenomenon

TITLE: Phenomenon

YEAR RELEASED: 1974

CHART ACTION: #202

SINGLES: Doctor Doctor

OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW: Space Child, Rock Bottom, Oh My

LINEUP: Phil Mogg, Michael Schenker, Pete Way, Andy Parker

WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: After a lackluster career as proggy-space-rockers, UFO finds a teenage Michael Schenker, and immediately becomes listenable and interesting.

SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: UFO had been dropped and all but forgotten when they hired a teenage Michael Schenker as their guitarist, and, well, that was a coup and a half.

Still showing some proggy and spacy tendencies, the band incorporates Schenker and his presence infuses the band with sparks and smoke. That was much needed after boring people to death from 1970-72.

“Oh My” and “Doctor Doctor” are fine slabs of 70’s rock, and other tracks are good enough, but damn, this has “Rock Bottom”, which, if you haven’t heard it, you must drop everything now and take a listen. It’s…smoldering and should have been all over FM radio in the day. The riff is genius. Genius!

NOTES & MINUTIAE: I’ve skipped the rest of the pre-M. Schencker albums, because, they’re no good, not good at all.

IS THERE A DELUXE VERSION: Yes. An interesting single + B-side that introduced Schenker to the masses, and BBC sessions, etc.

GRADE: B+:  Worth it just for “Rock Bottom”, but it’s decent to good hard 70’s rock all through.

UFO – UFO 1

ARTIST: UFO  220px-UFO1_(UFO_album_-_cover_art)
TITLE: UFO 1
YEAR RELEASED: 1970
CHART ACTION: No
SINGLES: Shake It About, Come Away Melinda, Boogie for George, C’Mon Everybody
OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW: Nope. For a good reason, too.
LINEUP: Phil Mogg, Mick Bolton, Pete Way, Andy Parker
WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: First album finds the UK band straddling space rock, hard rock and blues rock and coming up with…nothing, really.

SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: I could say the sound and production is flat, but I know that they were on a shoe string budget.

What I can say for sure is that the band didn’t quite know what they were doing, what they wanted or what direction they wanted to take. They dabbled in space rock, psychedelic ballads, boogie (with a song called “Boogie”, no less), and a hard rock band (their version of “C’Mon Everybody”).

Pete Way’s bass is way out there in the mix, and though Mick Bolton’s guitar has some riffin’ moments most of the time he’s back there noodling with effect and wah-wah pedals.

NOTES & MINUTIAE: It’s not streaming by itself, but the Beginnings collection has all three pre-Michael Schenker UFO albums, if you’re so inclined. I’ve got two more to review. I’m kind of not looking forward to them…(NOTE, no, I’m not…I decided not to.)

Also “C’Mon Everybody” was big in Japan. So was Spinal Tap…

IS THERE A DELUXE VERSION: See above.

GRADE: C-: A riff here, a semi good idea there. A lot of noodling. A muddled sound. It’s not the UFO I want or need.

EXILED