If there is one underrated band in the long history of rock and metal, then it is the British band UFO. Founded in 1968 by Phil Mogg, UFO proved to be one of the forerunners of the Hard Rock and Metal multiverse that we enjoy today. They have today some 22 studio albums under their belt, with an added score of live records and other versions to boot. UFO‘s latest album reached our shores in 2017, no less. Still going strong after some 50 years of service.
Yet, reports tell us that Phil Mogg plans to retire in 2019 after one last tour. But haven’t we heard that one before? Black Sabbath – for instance – announced their end a few times in the past, just to reemerge with Ozzy still more or less fit for service. But this time their fate seems to stick with Iommi’s health concerns really taking center stage. So in this light, we will see, if UFO will really voluntarily give up the ghost and be no more. Or play undead for a while like their famous brethren. I’ll be watching.
The RMR deck crew fostered a number of reviews of UFO‘s greatest and best. For now, coverage was limited to what is called the Schenker years. That was the time when Michael Schenker joined the band from the Scorpions way back in the ’70s and brought this band to life with his outstanding and sometimes otherworldly guitar play. And this at the tender age of 18 years. This brought UFO and the rock world in general, some of the best guitar play a guitar master can offer. To this day.
So, without further ado, here is a tribute to a slice of this band’s outstanding career:
Phenomenon – 1974
This was the first album of the illustrious, but short stay of Mr. Schenker with the band. The album contains some of the most iconic tracks, like Doctor Doctor. Or the equally famed Rock Bottom that continues to go strong on playlists to this day. Interestingly, a lot of the contributions in this album appear to be showcased for their perfectionist guitar master. But hey, this is perfectly alright. Or is it?
Force It – 1975
This is the record, where Phil Mogg found his voice again. And where the ‘nudity’ on the cover enraged the American puritan public to distraction. The thing is: I don’t see a helluva lot of nudity. Actually the leering appliances always fascinated me much more. This was one of the technically best albums, yet almost devoid of any of the chart-ready hammer blows the other albums depict.
No Heavy Petting – 1976
Mogg’s artistic loins seemed relentless back then. One new UFO album every year since 1974. Complete with Schenker quality solos and riffs galore, like the one in Can You Roll Her. No Heavy Petting was surely famous for Natural Thing and the unforgettable ballad Belladonna. This track got some notoriety in Russia, which – incidentally – still lasts to this day. YouTube is full of Russian compilations with a variety of picture horror shows.
Lights Out – 1977
This album still elicits a wow from the RockmusicRaider office suite. UFO staple like Too Hot to Handle, Try me, the famous Lights Out, or the epic Love to Love. The latter one still plays on the RMR mighty music machine to this day. And often, too. With all these delights in one single album, there’s value for your money. This is also when Michael Schenker reached maturity inside the band that he was soon to leave. But more to that in the next album review.
Obsession – 1978
The last of the albums with Michael Schenker for this series, before he was dismissed from UFO. Or dismissed himself, depending on how you look at it. He was to do stints later with the band, but they would never last nor stick. Somehow the steam leaked in more places than one on this record, too. With tracks like the watery Only You Can Rock Me that only registered at half the strength than former tracks of other albums. However, this turned out to be one of the quieter records that I nevertheless still like to return to from time to time.
UFO was a companion to me almost since I discovered music as a passion and I still enjoy them. What do you think about this band? Which one of their albums should we cover next?
Leave us your thoughts in the comments section. Oh, and also don’t forget to check out the UFO Top 10 Songs list.