The Schenker years. One of the most illustrious and – I daresay – productive segments of UFO‘s 50 some years or so of existence. It is a fact that this period did produce many of the major hits this underrated band produced over time. Trademark Hard Rock and fledgling Metal, or straight rock’n’roll continued to spew forward as the band accelerated out to space and went for stardom.
UFO inevitably created many sometimes iconic tracks in the process, 10 of which we have ranked for you. Now, fire up that playlist and let her rip.
# 10 Shoot Shoot – Force It (1975)
The crop of hits Force It was able to produce was definitely limited. Yet again, Shoot Shoot does not hide its allure in the bigger theme of things. So, it is only fair to feature this track on this list.
# 9 Let it Roll – Force It (1975)
It is again the outstanding guitar work of the mercurial Michael Schenker that saves an otherwise lackluster track. But hey, the thumping beat together with the riffing and soloing on that track really make all the difference. I wouldn’t miss this track for the world on my collection.
# 8 Can You Roll Her – No Heavy Petting (1976)
Speed Metal? Not quite, but for sure this song could have served as an example for some of today’s screamers. At scarcely three minutes, Can You Roll Her hardly lets time for Schenker’s solo to take over. A track so full of energy, it almost renders others of their songs stale afterward.
# 7 Queen of the Deep – Phenomenon (1974)
Anything with Queen in it goes, right? At least back in time, it did. But here, hell’s bells, Queen of the Deep just got on the funky side of me. A fascinating tune and loads of quirkiness shrouded in the accouterments of the ’70s and their psychedelic rock glory. The track is indeed a funky one and one that continues to captivate me to this day. Yet, much less progressive in its day than the other UFO songs ever were.
# 6 Try Me – Lights Out (1977)
One would think that UFO only released dramatic slow-motion sounds. And going for Try Me, you would almost believe that one. Indeed, this band – back in its heyday – still excelled in the art to issue powerful ballads. Apart from excellent Hard Rock at higher temperatures than will melt metal. And that specific genre wasn’t even invented yet.
# 5 Lights Out – Lights Out (1977)
The takeout from this album is amazing. Of course, how could we ever skip the title track that got us rocking in sweaty music halls? Together with one of Michael Schenker‘s most savvy solos included in the same package. This track, too, will rock on in the annals of the RMR music collection.
# 4 Love to Love – Lights Out (1977)
Already the world-famous keyboard riff by Paul Raymond at the start will put you into a trance. Then guitars kick in, further pumping up the volume. Once Phil Mogg‘s scratchy voice lets loose, you are off to UFO heaven. This is one of the songs that still gets my juices flowing after all these years of collecting music. An absolute killer track.
# 3 Doctor Doctor – Phenomenon (1974)
This is – without a doubt – one of the most iconic tracks in UFO‘s arsenal. With the trademark riff from Michael Schenker kicking off his tenure with this band, it will stick to your frontal lobe. And it will never leave there, like some primeval time stamp, ingrained forever into your genes of music.
# 2 Rock Bottom – Phenomenon (1974)
Early UFO, and already a hit that continues to be played to this day. But actually it is the live version in Strangers In The Night that would finally qualify as the definitive version. You’ll have to invest some time, but – boy – will it be worth your time. Michael Schenker and Paul Raymond at their very fucking best.
# 1 Belladonna – No Heavy Petting (1976)
Slow-motion poisoning alert. Phil Mogg‘s prose on the lyrics just matches the melody. I have seldom seen words set in motion quite that way outside of a poem book. A 20 mph accusation of a love story gone awry. Delicious and passionate revenge sought by a tastefully nasty adversary. All of that bemoaned by a startled guy on the receiving end of the poisoned tip.
And an honorable nod goes to:
Pack It Up (And Go) – Obsession (1978)
A truism come true again. That any era will end, the band may try as they want to keep the status quo. With Michael Schenker‘s career waning with UFO, the last album Obsession really drove that point home. Pack it Up (And Go) beat the palsy Only You Can Rock Me to the punch. It was pretty much the only really remarkable track on this disk. The one with a trifle crunch and just a little rebellion in it. No doubt the relationship with Schenker ended pretty soon after this record.
Here’s to the final installment of this era of UFO‘s career – the Schenker Years. We will of course now intensify the study of later albums. Let’s see what we find.