Monday, February 15, 2010

Classic Albums Revisited: UFO-Strangers in the Night

This will be one in a series of installments re-visiting some of my favorite albums. Right up there with Grand Funk Live, Live at Leeds, Lizzy's Live and Dangerous, etc etc, is one of my favorite live albums of all time, UFO's Strangers in the Night.

I remember first reading about UFO in Circus magazine in 1974-75. I distinctly remember it was a review for the "Force It" album, and it was one of those reviews where it had the one ear, two ears, two loud ears, etc. rating system. Needless to say the review expounded on the incredible Schenker leads that populate the record, and I had to go out and get it. It was not a disappointment. In fact, I still say that "Force It" is their best studio LP, their most raw and rocking. Schenker is on fire throughout the whole thing.

Which brings us to the live album. After hearing this Schenker became, and still is, my favorite guitarist. The tone, melody, phrasing, is just unbelievable. Plus he's playing a Gibson Flying V into a 50W Marshall stack, the ultimate rock tone set-up. Some of the leads sound easy, but try to play them. You can't. The whole album is just one rock and roll juggernaut from beginning to end with most of the Force It stuff on there, and their show stopping finale "Rock Bottom". Hell, even the Highway Kings covered "Doctor Doctor".

Schenker, being the drunken genius that he is, came and went but UFO carries on to this day with shredder Vinnie Moore on axe. It ain't the same, nor is the Schenker solo stuff the same, either. This was the magic mix, the line up that played on this album. Again, the Chapman-era UFO had some rocking stuff as well but it just wasn't the same.

Next installment: the new Overkill album, "Ironbound". Blitz returns with a thrash masterpiece!!


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