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UFO - Strangers In The Night

Review: 094
Date: 23 Sep 02

 


Rating: 5 Stars

Musicians:
Andy Parker - Durms
Michael Schenker - Guitar
Paul Raymond - Keyboard, Guitar and Vocals
Phil Mogg - Vocals
Pete Way - Bass Guitar

Reissue Credits:
Executive Producer: Michel Etchart
Produced & Compiled by: David K. Tedds
Project Manager: Dennis Argenzia
Art Design: Lisa Glines, Sam Gay
Remastered by: Bob Norberg at Capitol Mastering

Tracks Listing:
1. Hot ‘N’ Ready
2. Cherry
3. Let It Roll
4. Love To Love
5. Natural Thing
6. Out In The Street
7. Only You Can Rock Me
8. Mother Mary
9. This Kids
10. Doctor Doctor
11. I’m A Loser
12. Lights Out
13.Rock Bottom
14. Too Hot To Handle
15. Shoot Shoot

 


The predominance of live albums in the 1970’s was a response to consumer demand for more explorative treatments of the hits being generated by AOR radio. Hard rock icons UFO utilized the trend to great effect with 1979’s “Strangers In The Night”, a double album of hits and fan favorites that showcased the impromptu greatness of Michael Schenker’s rock ensemble. Recorded over the course of two U.S. concert dates, the set list finds UFO delving into a career’s worth of classics, including the key tracks “Rock Bottom” and “Doctor Doctor”. While it proved to be Schenker’s swansong with the band, the album encapsulated an ambitious worldwide tour and cemented UFO’s status as one of the era’s most exciting – and loudest – bands.
“Strangers In The Night” (1978) was the coronation for UFO. It was the crowning achievement of a great rock and roll band that had paid its dues for many years and finally received the critical and popular recognition it was due. And it almost never happened! Consider the improbable scenario that unfolded early in the formation of the group.

1973. A hungry young English club band (whose name was taken from a legendary London club, not an extraterrestrial transport) with a marginal following has a guitarist left behind due to a mix-up in travel arrangements. Without an axe-man in a foreign country, they approach a sixteen-year-old guitarist from a German band, who has opened up for them at previous shows. A quick run through some rock classics and a young Michael Schenker goes on the stage with them. UFO gets paid for the shows, fulfilling their contractual obligations. Shortly after, the band asks the guitar wunderkind to join their fold, going back to England with them and leaving his brother behind in Germany. That brother, Rudolf, would build the Scorpions into rock legends, and Michael would unleash some of the greatest guitar licks ever; in a band with whom he shared only one language – rock and roll.

What ensued for UFO was a brilliant run of guitar-stung songs, headlining gigs, good fun, spats, several albums, tours, a lot of beer, a ton of tension, and disagreements ad infinitum. Unadulterated live readings rarely eclipse studio versions of classic songs, but UFO did just that on “Strangers In The Night”. “Doctor Doctor”, “Rock Bottom”, “Lights Out”, “Only You Can Rock Me”, “Too Hot To Handle” and many more. All get rocket-launched to completely new heights.

The classic late-‘70s UFO lineup featured lead vocalist Phil Mogg, Paul Raymond on guitar and keyboards, Pete Way on bass, Andy Parker on drums and Schenker on lead guitar. Mogg, Way, and Parker had been there from the beginning in 1969, in what was initially called Hocus Pocus. Re-emerging as UFO, the band enjoyed a surprising amount of early success in both Germany and Japan, with a lineup that predated the one highlighted on this classic album.

UFO’s assault on the U.S. and UK began with their Chrysalis signing and the release of their first album for the label, “Phenomenon” (1974). “Force It” (1975) and “No Heavy Petting” (1976) followed closely and helped to fortify a burgeoning fan base. When Raymond joined the group in July of 1976, the scene was set for the classic UFO lineup to record their most artistic and commercially successful albums, “Lights Out” (1977) and “Obsession” (1978). Both albums are considered seminal releases in their genre. The subsequent 1978 tour (in support of Obsession) saw UFO opening for Blue Oyster Cult in the U.S. It was a pair of unforgettable dates on this tour that were immortalized for this live record.

Phil Mogg said it best when he spoke about the making of Strangers: “It was easy. Some bands doctor their live albums to death. I’m proud to say our live album was practically perfect. There was no real need to doctor this record with endless studio overdubs.” (Michael Schenker insured that by quitting UFO in November of 1978, to be replaced later by Paul Chapman.)

This newly re-mastered and modernized version of “Strangers In The Night” has been resequenced to remain faithful to the band’s original set list while placing previously unreleased versions of “Hot ‘N’ Ready” and “Cherry” in their original concert positions. Pay attention to the special humor and spice that were such a part of the UFO concert experience at this time. This record is justly considered one of the most inspiring live albums of the hard rock era and it captures perfectly the essence of UFO in its prime.

 

Pawed by Mott The Dog
Remastered by Ella Crew

E-mail: review@mott-the-dog.com


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