Monday, March 27, 2017

Eugeology: Eugene's List of Hard Rock Albums and Possible Gems Part 10 - UFO 'Strangers In The Night'

This was originally supposed to be posted on March 16. My job became a tornado of all kinds of things the Friday before and didn’t let up until last Friday night when I left work at 7:15pm. My apologies, but as they say… Better late than never.

‘Strangers In The Night’ is perhaps one of the greatest live albums out there. But unfortunately, very few people know the greatness of the band UFO. And that’s sad really.

I did my best in junior and senior high to spread the word, but UFO just couldn’t compete with Judas Priest, Van Halen, and the rest of the 80s hard rock bands. The mentality seemed to be “if they weren’t on MTV then why bother”.

So yeah, I was a bit of a square peg during those years.

‘Strangers…’ sounds very much LIVE. There are times where you’re going “Why didn’t they overdub the vocals here?”

I wanted to really give Tim and Jon the ‘Phenomenon’ album, but I felt like UFO deserved a “greatest hits” with the guys. But Tim would bitch and moan over some kind of “hipster” ideals that he’s adopted so I went with this FANTASTIC ass kicking live album from 1979. UFO had a lot of great songs, but their albums could be a hit or miss to someone being turned onto them for the first time.

“Hot n’ Ready” is the perfect opener that starts working the ol’ one two with some fancy footwork that borders on the funky side. And Pete Way keeps things in rock perspective with his solid style of playing.

This album shares many of the great UFO tunes from their expansive catalog. Michael Schenker is probably one of the greatest guitarists alive, but the majority of Americans don’t even know him or his work. It’s a damn shame really. The guy can just blister the paint on the walls with a screaming guitar solo or lull a kitten to sleep with a different and more melodic solo. He can squeeze in note upon note like Vinnie Vincent or he can make just one sing and soar with the ease of a hawk riding the wind. Schenker does every song justice with his brand of guitar playing. But sadly, Schenker tarnished my image of him with the McAuley Schenker Group in the late 80s. MSG were cool, but Schenker dissolved the band and rebuilt it. It just wasn’t the same.

I know Tim likes my little background stories about the discoveries of these albums, but I have none with UFO.

I started toying around with guitars and read just about everything that I got my hands on. I especially read the magazines that contained tablature because I can’t read music. There were interviews with the guys on top of the hard rock scene and a lot of them kept mentioning Michael Schenker and UFO.

My art teacher in junior high had a book of album covers from all kinds of different rock bands. And the UFO covers always got my attention. Even though the cover for ‘Lights Out’ always had me scratching my head as to what that was about.

So I saved my lunch money instead of eating and purchased a used copy of ‘Phenomenon’. That was the day I became a UFO fan. I had my face melted off. Just one listen to the song “Rock Bottom” and I was hooked. And like I mentioned before, I tried to spread the UFO word.

I never got to see UFO, Michael Schenker, or any other member of UFO perform live. They stuck mostly to the bigger cities to the north and west here in America. Michael’s brother Rudolph on the other hand… I’ve seen him perform a few times with the Scorpions.

I have the LP of this album and when I was working for Capitol Records, they went through a phase of reissuing UFO albums on CD. So yeah, you know that I jumped on acquiring those babies like blitzing linebacker after a sack-shy quarterback.

This album shows the quiet moments as well as the face-melting Marshall stacked rock that can give a dead man an erection.

Standouts on this album include “Hot n’ Ready”, “Mother Mary”, “Doctor Doctor”, “This Kid’s”, “Lights Out”, “Too Hot To Handle” (why wasn’t that a big hit??), and “Shoot Shoot”.

I beg of you… Give UFO some love on Spotify.

Check out Tim's take on this album. Jon Lowder's posting is NOW later than mine. But he gets a pass since he was out of the country.

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