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Wednesday, March 07, 2007


THE ALPHA, THE OMEGA, THE ZENITH

My friend Tony has been using this very effective weapon against the blues.

UFO's 1978 release, 'Obsession', could very well be the greatest record ever made.

It's a magic record, a record that almost didn't happen.

Schenker went awol during the 77 tour in support of the 'Lights Out', and had no intention of doing another record with Phil Mogg (singer). After searching high and low, he was located, and coaxed back into the fold for one more album and tour. He acquiesced, and the two greatest records of all time were recorded during Schenker's swan song era - 'Obsession', and the live 'Strangers in the Night'. The former being recorded in Chicago during the tour in support of the latter.

Very shewed bit of business - getting two records out of Mike.

'Obsession', produced by Ron Nevison, was one of two records that helped me expand my musical world beyond Kiss.

Looking back, the second lamest song on the record is the anthemic single - 'Only You Can Rock Me', which is not lame at all, and opens the record followed by the sheer shredding of 'Pack It Up and Go'. 'Pack It Up and Go' also features the drum track that comes second closest to sounding like Bonham (Andy Parker - drums).

'Arbory Hill' is one of the Schenker penned instrumentals that he was contractually given by the band; one per record. This one has flute. Mike was always keen to show his sophistication in composition.

'Ain't No Baby' - great backing harmonies, again Schenker makes other guitar players look silly as Andy invokes Bonzo (See Bonham).

'Looking Out For No. 1' features a full blown string section (arranged and conducted by Allen McMillan). Great tune, building up to a fantastic middle eight, it's no wonder that the band went with George Martin for the studio follow up. Strings and big loud guitars go together so well, like sweet gherkins and American cheese.

Side Two starts with the lamest song on the record - 'Hot n' Ready' which isn't such a lame tune at all, it's just the damn title/Chorus bit is so cheesy, but the balance of the tune is standard UFO rock bliss.

Ah, 'Cherry' - I don't think Tony likes 'Cherry' - or maybe it was one of my brothers - I love it, I'm a sucker for drastic dynamics, the way the pre-chorus builds into the chorus with 12-string picking, then the big guitars - oh joy!

Tony told me recently that:

"You Don't Fool Me" which has become my favorite, all time, don't even fuckin' argue with me, greatest UFO song ever (Okay, you can argue with me). Tell me M Ward wouldn't weep instantly in his guilt and apologize for the dreck he's sold as albums after he heard MS rip the solo in that song, and if he didn't, then he deserves to go for a ride to the North Jersey Pine Barrens with Christopher Moltisanti." (Sorry Tony, I guess I'm not to be trusted.)

I concur about the solo.

Next we have a reprise of the melody from "Looking Out For No. 1" called 'Looking Out For No. 1 Reprise'. Don't worry, it's just under a minute.

The last two tracks, 'One More For The Rodeo', and 'Born To Lose' are fine songs which just aren't quite as awesome as the rest of the deck, BUT, Schenker still dances circles around mere mortals on these tunes, as mere skeletons for him to strut they succeed where they might not have on any latter UFO record that unfortunately had to be made without him.

Paul Chapman, who had the unenviable task of replacing Schenker, is a great player and played great on great tunes, but as the great tunes started to dwindle, and the drug use in the band escalated, so did his performance. His playing on 'Mystery Train' from the 'No Place To Run' record (fore-mentioned follow up) is undeniable.

Comments:
I love Cherry!!! Was the first tune our band did that we had vocal harmony on (I wonder how tight that sounded, yipes!)

Great post. Boosted my spirits. I'm sure to attract the ire of M Ward fans, but unless said M Ward fans have sat down and actually listened to Obsession all the way though at least twice, their testimony means nothing.

One of the many great aspects to Schenker's playing is how uses his pickups. On this album you can hear the distinction between his forward and aft pickups in relation to where he happens to be playing. A master at the toggle switch he was (and still is I guess).
 
Circy just tapped me on the shoulder and said, "I really don't like UFO, could you turn it down, I can't hear my iPod..." Must be a M Ward fan. Citizen's divorce time, final decree!
 
Ipso facto, coitus interruptus....
 
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