Geez, I’m bad at anniversary dates and If I was on the ball I would have timed this back on January 2nd as it was that date back in 1979 that the mighty “UFO” released one of the most highly regarded double live releases ever…
“Strangers In The Night” is a tour de force. UFO was gaining a foothold in that market known as the United States( 1978’s Obsession charted at 41 on the Billboard Charts) yet by the time Strangers came out the main architect of this record was already gone.
Michael Schenker the blond playing German Guitar God with the Gibson Flying V after years of drugs and alcohol finally had enough and walked out during the mixing of “Strangers In The Night.”
The story goes that when the song “Rock Bottom “was being mixed by producer Ron Nevison, Schenker heard the mix that was going to be used and he didn’t like how his guitar was sounding and wanted to pick another version of the song. Schenker also refused to do overdubs on the album saying there were better versions than what they were working with.
Michael was told ‘No’ and walked out of the studio supposedly muttering ‘Poor, Poor Rock Bottom’ in his broken English never to return.
The end result. Strangers came out and hit the charts (#42 in the U.S and #7 in England) but by the time the tour for it rolled around Micheal was long gone and replaced by Paul Chapman(RIP). More on Chapman’s involvement later.
UFO came across my radar back in 1981-82. My buddy Muc was the first I knew that owned any UFO album and Strangers was it. Muc was also the first one I knew of who bought 82’s “Mechanix” record as well.
When I first heard “Strangers” it was an album I needed to own but by 82 this version of UFO was basically non-existent. Schenker had formed his own band MSG and in doing some nabbed his former UFO bandmate Paul Raymond(RIP) for the project.
Bassist Pete Way(RIP) also was also off and running to play Bass for Ozzy on the Ozzmans 82 British Tour at which point Pete was fired by Sharon Osbourne (SHOCKER) than Pete joined Fast Eddie Clarke(RIP) who himself had left Motorhead and together they formed the very cool band “Fastway” but Pete was gone after 5 minutes to form his own band “Waysted” who released the pretty good “Vices” record in 83.
Did you get that?
So UFO at that point when Muc was spinning their records had Phil Mogg(singer) Andy Parker(drums) Neil Carter(keyboards) and Paul Chapman but I’m getting a little ahead here…
Back to 79…
Now in late 2020, the right thing was done and that was to reissue “Strangers” not only on double vinyl but also a 6 CD deluxe set that features 7 shows from the 1978 tour. Five of those have been unreleased and sitting in the vaults. I know many of these shows have ended up on various bootlegs over the years but now they are official.
So now more than ever there is a ton of UFO on the market!
Better real late than never.
So this past Christmas one of the albums I received was this updated version of this classic.
13 tracks make up the original Strangers album recorded in Chicago and Louisville on UFO’s “Obsession Tour’.
This band as we all know loved to party (ahem) but if anything when it came time to hit the stage these guys had it together.
Hello Chicago! Would you please welcome from England..UFO!!
Strangers for me personally is UFO’s Greatest Hits set. All these songs are bonafide classics that begin with “Natural Thing” until the final song “Shoot, Shoot”.
Mogg was always a great lyricist and I can honestly say the songs that make up this set showcase his writing abilities.
Musically the band is rock solid. Schenker lays down the gauntlet on every track on here. Just listen to Michaels soloing on tunes like “Natural Thing”, “I’m A Loser,” “Only You Can Rock Me”, and of course “Rock Bottom.”
Which came as a surprise to me two tracks those being as “This Kids” and “Mother Mary” were recorded in the studio and had an audience slapped on them.
The fact that Schenker co-wrote 11 of the albums 13 tracks says how his playing elevated this band to a whole other level.
One of the best live albums ever. Well almost completely live!
GIve it a spin or a stream!