UFO - The Complete Studio Recordings 1974-1986.
So, past couple of weeks I've been hitting the nostalgia trail, dipping in and out of this 10-album boxset of one of my all-time favourite bands UFO.
So we start at what was actually the band's 3rd studio album, Phenomenon, the first to feature ex-Scorpions wunderkind Michael Schenker. This album, produced by Leo Lyons beefed up UFO's sound and spawned the anthemic Doctor Doctor and Schenker's set piece Rock Bottom. (Interesting side note, on tour Paul Chapman was drafted in on 2nd guitar for a spell, before he formed Lone Star; more on him to follow). In pretty close order, the albums Force It and No Heavy Petting. Force It was very much to the same recipe as its predecessor and contained Shoot Shoot and Let It Roll, however, there are no such stand-out really on No Heavy Petting though it was UFO's first album with a 5th member (Danny Payrennel on keys).
However, this must have been a springboard as the album that followed is the stuff of legend, Lights Out. This propelled UFO into the big leagues, especially with the following live album Strangers In The Night (NOT in this set). The follow up, Obsession wasn't quite as successful, but a strong album, nonetheless.
Thing began to crumble from here on in, the relationship with Schenker became more fractious until he left for a solo career and Paul "Tonka" Chapman was re-hired for the No Place To Run album. Maybe not as strong as Light's Out, but for me as good as Obsession, though the guitar sound naturally, is very different. "Tonka" really found his feet with the following album though, The Wild, The Willing & The Innocent, still remains one of my al time favourites. During this time, keyboard/2nd guitar Paul Raymond had gone off to join Schenker's outfit and was replaced by ex-Wild Horses Neil Carter. From here on in, quality dropped, Mechanix had its moments, on a par I'd say with Force It. By the time Making Contact came along, co-founder Pete Way had now jumped ship, originally to join forces with now ex-Motorhead Eddie Clark. Though Way was replaced with former Talas bassist Billy Sheehan for the album, the spark was weak.
Soon after, the band broke up, but in late 1984, Mogg assembled a new UFO line-up, featuring Paul Gray on bass again, ex-Diamond Head drummer Robbie France (replaced in 1985 by former Magnum drummer Jim Simpson), and Atomik Tommy M (Tommy McClendon), a former roadie who also wrote lyrics for Loudness, on guitar, with Paul Raymond rejoining shortly afterward, and released Misdemeanor which frankly was a dog's breakfast. After that, for the next few years, there seemed to be a revolving door of band members until Mogg & Way reunited in the 1990s, but that's out the scope of this set.
Each of the disc has been remastered, around 2007, and comes with extra live tracks of the subsequent tours. Misdemeanor is fully loads with American remixes of key tracks which I'm sorry to report, doesn't help its case.
In all, a good set to have as it seemed to take ages to get these classic albums on CD in the 1st place.
Time flies like an arrow. Fruit flies like a banana...