Taking a shine out in the early ’80s, down-to-earth spacemen descend on American Midwest to let their rocks off.
In public perception, past the ’70s, the halcyon days of UFO had been over; in reality, in the next decade the English band leveled their performance and produced a string of solid albums. Basically, they became a kind of MOTT THE HOOPLE for the ’80s – shining but never shy to show their rough facet, what with glossy sound values of the period – and this 4CD collection provides a great snapshot of that era.
Far from relying on crowd favorites – they sometimes discarded “Doctor Doctor” from the set, unlike the feverish staples such as “Too Hot To Handle” or “Only You Can Rock Me” – the group were self-assured enough to open their concert with one of the new numbers: “Lettin’ Go” in 1980, “The Wild, The Willing & The Innocent” one year later, “We Belong To The Night” in 1982, each one a screaming statement of relevance. With Phil Mogg‘s voice in top belting shape and Paul Chapman’s guitar cutting it fine, the title “No Place To Run” is proven wrong now and again, rather vigorously by the song which added it to the quintet’s repertoire and allowed Neil Carter to roll out a solemn organ bedrock, serving as a platform for unhinged improvisations on “Lights Out.” Yet while this piece and “Rock Bottom” sound as firm as ever to prepare the listener for farewell, there’s glitter on “Cherry” and a sax solo on “Lonely Heart” revealing UFO’s feel for fresh tendencies with no sacrifice at the heaviness stakes.
As opposed to those, “Love To Love You” is dramatically deeper than in earlier renditions, punctured by Pete Way’s bass, and “Long Gone” ups the tension, whereas “Mystery Train” has a progressively tremulous ring to its intro and momentum to its groove. At the same time, UFO resolutely barge into the NWOBHM narrative on “Let It Rain” and bare their soft underbelly in a rare airing of “Terri,” and though sometimes things get somewhat chaotic, Andy Parker is keeping the beat steady, that’s why Chicago, St. Louis and Cleveland audiences embrace it all as part of the package.
Packaged into a box with printed material and an out-of-context colored LP with a 1972 recording, these tapes are a great addition to the group’s live catalogue, as they document the time when UFO, contrary to what some may think, held it as tight as ever.