UFO - 2002 Sharks

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ARTIST: UFO
ALBUM: Sharks
LABEL: SPV
SERIAL: SPV 085-74312 CD
YEAR: 2002

COUNTRY OF ORIGIN: image

LINEUP: Phil Mogg - vocals * Michael Schenker - guitars * Pete Way - bass * Aynsley Dunbar - drums

TRACK LISTING: 01 Outlaw Man * 02 Quicksilver Rider * 03 Serenity * 04 Dean Man Walking * 05 Shadow Dancer * 06 Someone's Gonna Have To Pay * 07 Sea Of Faith * 08 Fighting Man * 09 Perfect View * 10 Crossing Over * 11 Hawaii

Background

Released in September of 2002, this now looks for certain to be the last U.F.O. album to feature Schenker on guitar. Having left the band for the umpteenth time earlier this year, Schenker could have gone out worse, this a far more commendable effort than 2000's 'Covenant', which to these ears was the bands weakest recording in a 30 plus years career.

'Sharks' certainly increases the hard rock quotient, noticeably absent on 'Covenant', at least in an exciting sense. There's nothing to compare this to any vintage 70's U.F.O., even 'The Wild, The Willing And The Innocent' (1981), 'Making Contact' (1983) or 'Misdemeanor' (1985), but at least there is an attempt to make it seem like they aren't simply going through the motions.

The Songs

You can't go wrong with a title like 'Outlaw Man', especially for the lead track, and it delivers, mainly through Schenker's 70's sounding riffs, and a dangerous pre-chorus which sees Mogg wail 'I'm a rocker, 'I'm a rocker, I'm a rolling stone'. (How many times has Phil Mogg sung that? The same goes for Coverdale, who it seems was always born under a bad sign. - Ed).

A welcome dose of classic U.F.O. then. There's a bit of a southern riff in 'Quicksilver Rider', backed by a fine solo courtesy Schenker. The hook isn't shabby and this comes across as work you would expect from such pro's. In the liner notes Mogg considers 'Serenity' 'another U.F.O. classic', an opinion I don't share, simply a by-the-numbers hard rocker, with a flat vocal in the chorus.

Veritable dullness ensues with 'Dead Man Walking', where the band tries to rediscover that 70's sound, but goes nowhere on all counts. 'Shadow Dancer' impresses thanks to it's lively sense of melody, but nothing comes close to the boogie of 'Someones Gotta Have To Pay', which as Mogg points out is the 'first straight boogie since 'Boogie For George' off our 1970 debut'. Rollicking riffs straight from 1972 and an all round sense of cool make this a keeper.

It's hard to top boogie of any sort, but 'Fighting Man' is as muscular as it sounds, and 'Perfect View' contains some early 80's type MSG guitar work from Schenker, always invigorating.

In Summary

The current word is that John Norum is set to replace Schenker, although the word hasn't been made official yet (I think the final decision went the way of Vinnie Moore, Ed).

It is true that the pairing of Schenker, Way and Mogg had more ups than downs, and even seemed stale as in 2000, but typically when they create something worthwhile, decide to end things again.

I'm not sure too many people really care anymore, but 'Sharks' is as professional an album as expected from one of the pioneering groups in hard rock and metal history. A good way to go out for once in Schenker's case anyway.


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