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UFO 1

Discussion in 'Album Reviews' started by Khor1255, Feb 21, 2021.

  1. Khor1255

    Khor1255 Senior Member

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    If you like Schenker era UFO you might be surprised or even shocked by their first album which (I believe) was marketed as 'space rock' which is basically one of those somewhat descriptive terms for a form of psychedelic music characterized by effects laden guitar, vocals and even background sound. It bears some resemblance to the mid to late 70s heavy cock rock version of UFO (three of the four members of this lineup remained in the band) but definitely has a rather distinctive sound and feel perhaps owing to the fact that UFO was - for a time - somewhat the house band of the 'underground' London club of the same name. Yes, this is the same club Pink Floyd, Tomorrow (Steve Howe's pre Yes band) and others experimented with lights sounds and feels sometimes being spied on by the likes of the Beatles in disguise (no joke).

    In my opinion this album comes through as rather confident and even somewhat well crafted considering how 'out there' it sometimes is but maybe that's a testament to just how great 'average' rock bands were in the London scene of the very late 60s to very early 70s.

    Forgive me for not having the album in front of me and going from memory. If my recollection is too far off I'll come back and edit this steaming pile of words. I will list them in the order I remember hearing them on the cassette I bought in a bargain bin in the late 80s (for $1 no less).

    Side Two (sorry this is the order I first heard the album)

    1) Timothy - This song is driving and smooth and immediately made me glad I forked out 100 pennies for it. The up tempo drums and bass are slammed and strafed with a sort of chorusy lead guitar that provides as much extra rhythm content as counterpoint type coloring (well maybe not counterpoint...). The song is about Timothy Leary but nothing like the trippy tunes that had up until that point been written about the man. The drums and bass are tight and almost perfectly flowing, the guitar soars and reels in an ethereal realm while the vocals provide vary musical narration.

    Great tune. Very nice.

    2) Follow You Home - is a song that is something of a 'formula rock song' almost wholly predictable in delivery but with a rather darker edge that fits they lyrics (a guy kind of stalking his love interest...or...something...) quite well. But again it is the 'space guitar' that provides a very interesting near counterpoint to what might otherwise be a trite or even mundane (if well delivered) song. The singing is very well done. I particularly am fond of the ending chorus.

    3) Treacle People - If this was the only tune of any value on this tape I would still feel it was a dollar very well spent (and in those days dollars didn't come easy for my unskilled dreamer ass). When they list psychedelia in the dictionary this song would maybe be an archetype. The bass and guitar are again perfectly in synch. Pete Way plays a slow but extremely low end almost droning foundation while Mick Bolan ( if I'm remembering his name correctly) again plays the ether using enough effects on his guitar to almost sound like a keyboard but with enough remaining crunch to make you glad it isn't.
    The vocals are long and drawn out but very powerful as is the entire execution of the piece.

    One of my favorite UFO songs of all time and I am a huge fan of the Schenker stuff.

    4) Who Do You Love - is (I believe) the first cover on this album and my favorite version of this rock standard. The approach UFO uses is perfectly at home on this album (ethereal and somewhat playing outside the main theme during the musical interludes wherever no vocals are present) but remarkably different than any other version I've ever heard. It uses the 'Bo Diddly' riff as a mainstay during the verses but almost like a Jazz song can't wait to nose dive away from the main theme wherever it can. The drums and bass again carry the tune seemingly effortlessly.

    5) Evil - rather formulaic. Well done but completely unsurprising. I don't dislike the song but neither does it do much for me.

    Side One

    6) Arriving UFO - an instrumental with a lot of atmosphere and 'space sounds' but more an ambient track than anything really memorable.

    7) Boogie With George - is another party song and rather run of the mill.

    8) C'mon Everybody - is the Cochrane classic delivered very competently and I think it manages to kind of put you in the room in the late 60s with 'bare feet slapping on the floor'.

    9) Can't remember the name of this tune. Not a good sign.

    10) (Come Away) Melinda - is I believe another cover though I'm not really sure. It is another long drawn out drone with reverb and echo but done in an almost haunting manner. Phil Moog delivers again with a lot of power and confidence that if lacking even slightly would have tanked this vocal heavy song.
     
    Last edited: Feb 21, 2021
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  2. Nai Noswad

    Nai Noswad Senior Member

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    Yes Khór, that first album means a lot to me, I won the single Prince Kajuku at a funfair... The Beacon label was new at the time. Many have covered Melinda... I think the Heep do the ultimate version, UFO did 3 studio cuts of that song, a shorter demo is slightly faster. The club to which they were named was a special venue, and was the place to hear Trojan reggae. UFO, stiil remain one of my faves and the later recorded Space Child is an amp burner at this abode.
     
  3. E-Z

    E-Z ARTHUR LEE & LOVE circa 1969-1970

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    Those three early 'space rock' albums sound alright (after repeated listening that is) although I remember Pete Way saying a few years ago that they aren't that good. I think I remember a track on the second album being called 'Star storm' which I thought was a good song title.

    Both Mick Bolton & the late Larry Wallis ex Shagrat, Blodwyn Pig, The Pink Fairies and the early version of Motorhead played guitar in the early versions of UFO.
     
    Last edited: Feb 22, 2021
  4. Khor1255

    Khor1255 Senior Member

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    Prince Kajuko was actually on their second album which I think was originally called Flying. The record company then did some marketing shenanigans and retitled (I think) the first and second albums with some tracks edited off to a compilation record called 1 hour space rock.

    Now this one may or may not also have the live version of Prince Kajuko returns which I believe is by far the superior version of that tune.

    I was first introduced to Schenker era UFO like most Americans and was actually largely unaware of this earlier line up until I found it in the bargain bin. It quickly became a cassette I played heavily and I used to also play and sing the first three songs on the second side as part of my practice sessions back when I was making a go at music. Unfortunately I couldn't even talk my friends who liked that version of UFO into jamming on any of it. I think one guy suggested Prince Kajuko but I didn't really know that one so...
     
  5. Khor1255

    Khor1255 Senior Member

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    I saw UFO live for the first time in a pretty small venue called AL Gator's (I think because they changed the name so many times, might have been called Network???) in Rivera Beach Maryland in the early or mid 90s. The set was awesome. I fully expected them to give a substandard performance due to the size of the venue and how many bad albums they had through the 80s.

    I was pleasantly surprised with how much fire and accuracy they brought to their mostly Strangers in the Night sets. But I couldn't help myself from shouting to them (I was within 10 or 15 feet and in the front 'row' of the standing room only crowd) for songs like Treacle People and Timothy.

    I think at one point Pete Way kind of smirked in my direction but I'm not really sure. Great show.

    I wish I had bought Shenker's classical CD he was selling. I actually like classical guitar and I'm sure it was probably good but the best part was that he was personally signing them if you asked.

    But I was quite poor back then and beer money was more important at the time.
     
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  6. Ar-Pharazon

    Ar-Pharazon Senior Member

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    Mick Bolton is the only guitarist listed on those first three albums. Larry Wallis and Bernie Marsden filled in the gap between Bolton and Schenker. Marsden can be heard on demos of Oh My and Sixteen.

    I had these albums on cassette many years ago, before the internet, before I had the Penguin Guide to Rock & Roll, mostly since I'm a "completist". Quite a different sound than I had come to know from the Schenker era material and later the 80's era stuff. I was into Hawkwind as well, so the idea of Space Rock wasn't so strange to me.
     
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  7. Khor1255

    Khor1255 Senior Member

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    Bolton. Right. I thought something didn't sound quite right about it.


    But yeah, I think both the first two albums and the live album are him on guitar.

    At least that's what I always heard.
     

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