UFO - Phenomenon

geoviangeovian Earth Orbit
edited June 2 in year-1974

Some good songs here, with the earlier meandering style now mixed with the lead guitar wizardry of Schenker, readying UFO for what was to come in the immediate years ahead.

UFO - Phenomenon
ARTIST: UFO
ALBUM: Phenomenon
LABEL: Chrysalis
SERIAL: CHR 1059
YEAR: 1974
CD REISSUE: 1991, Chrysalis, F2 21059 * 2007, Chrysalis, CHRX 1059 50999 5 04440 2 1 (bonus, remastered)

COUNTRY OF ORIGIN: England Flag
LINEUP: Phil Mogg - vocals * Michael Schenker - guitars * Pete Way - bass * Andy Parker - drums

TRACK LISTING: 01 Too Young To Know * 02 Crystal Light * 03 Doctor Doctor * 04 Space Child * 05 Rock Bottom * 06 Oh My * 07 Time On My Hands * 08 Built For Comfort * 09 Lipstick Traces * 10 Queen Of The Deep

WEBLINKS: Official Site

Background

We've put together a few UFO reviews over the years, but for some reason we've tended to bypass what could arguably be described as their most creative period. Their first batch of recordings prior to 1974's 'Phenomenon' could be loosely termed as 'space rock'. Just what this actually meant in the context of 1970-1973 recordings by UFO and their contemporaries could vary between psychedelic, progressive, blues and a rawer style of hard rock.

At this stage, UFO had employed a couple of guitarists. Namely Larry Wallis who was associated with The Pink Fairies and a very early version of Motorhead. Then there was Mick Bolton, who played on the first two LP's plus Bernie Marsden, who flitted with UFO during 1973 before eventually hooking up with David Coverdale and Whitesnake a few years later.

It was however the addition of a young German guitarist called Michael Schenker that would prove to be the masterstroke, leaving teutonic legends The Scorpions (albeit in their embryonic stage) to join forces with these extraterrestrial English men. The band had also lined up a new contract with Chrysalis Records, an arrangement that would see the two entwined at the hip for many years.

The Songs

So what to make of this new lineup with the wunderkind axe hero in tow? The album, when looked at retrospectively, contains a couple of UFO classics, songs that would make up the UFO encore list for years to come.

Also, it was seen as a bridge between the sound of old from their space rock days when they were signed with the Decca record label, and the movement away to a pure hard rock environment now that Schenker had given them free license to roam, musically speaking.

Though in saying that, 'Phenomenon' is far from the blistering hard rock that would appear toward the end of the 70's decade. Apart from the obvious pairing of chestnuts 'Doctor Doctor', 'Rock Bottom', plus the solid duo of 'Oh My' and 'Built For Comfort', the rest of the material leans on the lighter side.

'Crystal Light', 'Time On My Hands' and 'Lipstick Traces' are all acoustic driven tunes with Schenker's lead guitar flying over the top. 'Space Child' has a rollicking 60's riff with Schenker's solo work adding the polish. The same could be said for the closer 'Queen Of The Deep' which rolls along smoothly until Michael unleashes a solo barrage to send the song into outer space.

In Summary

Some good songs here, with the earlier meandering style now mixed with the lead guitar wizardry of Schenker, readying UFO for what was to come in the immediate years ahead. Some have called it a lost masterpiece. I wouldn't go that far as the album is readily available in the CD marketplace, even years after its original release.


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