UFO: Walk on Water

The other day I basically ransacked the various online stores I frequent, hunting for special offers. January and February are my busiest shopping months, simply because the various stores do their spring cleaning early, throwing out their stock to make space for the new year’s upcoming releases. These past years, a pattern began to emerge: January is clearance sale around the globe and end January and beginning February, at times, is extra clearing sale, getting rid of the stuff that wasn’t sold the weeks before.

So, I was clicking my way around the globe and I came across a name that I hadn’t heard for quite some years, UFO. It should come as no surprise to you regular readers that I decided to jump on this one, especially since it cost the equivalent of about two dollars (good for me, perhaps not good for the band, although the record label probably sold the copies at a fixed price).

I’ve written about my early infatuation with hard rock, heavy metal and the NWoBHM (New Wave of British Heavy Metal) before, and if it hadn’t been for many of the friends I found at the Copenhagen International School, I would have probably never developed the steamy love for Judas Priest, The Scorpions, Deep Purple, Led Zeppelin, Thin Lizzy, Iron Maiden, and the legion of other bands that populated that genre at the time, before and after.

UFO? I had one single UFO record to my name, “Obsession “, the last studio album by that legendary Moog/Schenker/Way/Parker/Raymond quintet, although that one already signaled the end of a great band. Of course I had heard all the classics before that album was released, but it was the only one I had. Naturally, I also had my share of Michael Schenker albums, especially because I thought he was a great guitarist that had a knack for writing interesting stuff as opposed to some of the slush that was out there at the time, but somehow I lost interest in all of the Scorpions/Schenker/UFO stuff relatively fast.

Well, two weeks ago I hit that “buy me, buy me now, buy me (at that price)” button and when the CD came, packaged with a ton of jazz CDs, it went to the back of my “must-listen-to” pile and started collecting dust fast. I didn’t even give it a cursory glance.

Today I had a load of housework to do and when I didn’t know what to throw on my boom box in the kitchen to accompany my early Valentine’s Massacre of cleaning away seemingly several weeks of unwashed dishes and cleaning out the cupboards I hadn’t touched for nearly a year, I grabbed “Walk on Water”, turned up the volume and … was surprised enough to get the job done in half the time.

Yes, compared to my current listening fare, it’s got its corny parts and stuff I wouldn’t have listened to voluntarily if you had paid me for it, but right there and then it was a damn good album. I found myself grooving to it while doing work I abhor, and that’s a lot to say for an album. I proceeded to rip it to my harddrive and have it running as I type this.

This album brought Michael Schenker back into the fold and today I relived some of the excitement I felt when I saw him live eons ago. Man, that guy has some powerful chords, some real drive and just a melodic feel that many others just didn’t and don’t have. Instantly recognizable … and good.

Yes, it’s not my music anymore, really, but listening to many of the tunes I was instantly 17 or 18 years old again, and for an hour my dishes were my best friends, flying in and out of the water, basically cleaning themselves.

Yes, Schenker returning to the mid-1970s lineup also means that not a damn thing seems to have changed and perhaps this one is only for the fans, but I do believe there’s nothing wrong with that at times. It’s nice to have one of those relapses, remembering the time when you thought this was perhaps the best stuff on the planet, defending it to friends who couldn’t care less, remembering the time when you affixed those silly patches to your jeans or worse, as in my case, your (brown … eek) corduroy jacket, hitting those concerts as they rolled into town, living it up to the max. Drinking more than you should have. All of that, plus more.You know what I mean.

That’s really what it was and is all about.

Hell, I spent an enjoyable evening with this CD and I really don’t know how often I’ll pull it down from my shelves, but it was certainly worth the little money I spent on it.

More than.

Posted by Volkher Hofmann

Volkher Hofmann (deus62) has been blogging on and off since the 1990s and deus62.com is all that is left. He loves music, literature, drumming and, most of all, real life. He thinks the open web is much more important than social networks, closed-in ecosystems and other severely commercialized online endeavors.

  1. WALK ON WATER is an excellent album and a great comeback for the classic UFO lineup. I remember it coming out in Japan in 1995 and I couldn’t get a hold of it until 1997.

    ‘Venus’, ‘Self Made Man’, ‘Pushed To The Limit’, ‘Stopped By A Bullet’ are all excellent songs, the album as a whole is very strong. The only weak link I hear is the re-done versions of ‘Lights Out’ and ‘Doctor, Doctor’…..I’d rather have 2 more new songs.

    I notice that the artwork you displayed is the European release. Does your version have the bonus tracks: ‘Fortune Town’, ‘I Will Be There’, and ‘Public Enemy #1’? Those are from the Mogg/Way collaboration, Schenker solo, and the Paul raymond Project respectively.

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  2. Hi Steve,

    yep, a very good album, As I wrote, I was quite surprised and taken by it. I even like the “Doctor, Doctor” version, although it must be the fourth or fifth one they put out?

    And yes, all three bonus tracks are on there. Two of the very cheap albums I bought (the other one was the most recent Doobie Brothers release) were reissued (?) by this (cheapo?) label named, appropriately, “Noble Price”. I had never heard of them before, but at that price I ain’t complainin’. 😉

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  3. Glad you enjoyed it. I really don’t think any band has -ever- released such a ‘true to their sound’ reunion recording as UFO pulled off right there. If ‘Obsession’ was your point of reference, you certainly weren’t disappointed. All those little blistering Schenker fills just make a song seem timeless. The feel was very much present, and if anything, technology helped them achieve a much fuller overall sound.

    I could argue this point until my death, and example upon example are readily available: bands are a recipe. If that recipe is screwed with in any shape or form, it is ALL immediately lost. Sure, the recipe can change and it might still be good, but the original will always stand the test of time. The Beatles, Van Halen, etc etc are all examples. UFO is Moggy, Way, Schenker, Raymond, and Parker. Yes, even in a weird way, Andy Parker’s drum work was a significant factor in UFO’s signature groove. A lot of bands have gotten away with changing drummers, but Andy was clearly a team member in this recipe. I have never heard a MSG or Mogg/Way song that has the overall feel and groove that UFO can produce together. The UFO recipe is gold, and unfortunately Michael’s personality and demons has caused years and years of wasted time. But that’s wasted time to a fan. I’m sure his life has been fulfilled in what he has chose to do.

    He’s a weird guy at times… the signature sound of ‘Strangers in the Night’ launched millions of would-be guitar players who wanted to achieve that sound and feel. Michael hated the album. He actually walked out of the control room while they were mixing ‘Rock Bottom’ and accused the engineer of butchering his guitar work. :shrug: I guess millions of ears were wrong…

    My very first concert was UFO playing the California World Music Festival around 1979. I was lucky enough to catch UFO 4 times while they toured ‘Walk on Water’. Talk about feeling 16 again… it was very surreal, being able to meet the guys and chat around the tour bus. Pete and Phil are true gentlemen and love mingling with the fans. Michael, once again, signs a few autographs then retires quickly to his own space…

    How often will you pull that CD down? Well, I hope it’s quite often! If you like it now, I can pretty much guarantee you that those rhythms and melodies are going to start embedding themselves in the gray matter! Let us know how you fare.. and cheers!

    – Keith

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  4. Keith,

    thanks for your lengthy and passionate comment. Loved it.

    I’ve already had the CD running many times and I think it’s going to be one of those getting a regular spin here.

    Your “bands are a recipe” take is certainly correct in most cases I can think off. I can’t recall how many less than mediocre reunions etc. I saw with single or several original members replaced, but right off the bat, two bands at the opposite sides of the spectrum come to mind: Level42 and Uriah Heep. Both I had major problems with because the sound was lost. The same goes for Status Quo and, if it ever comes to pass, I suspect the same will be true forthe Van Halen reunion (although I really wonder how much Anthony was really part of the sound).

    Do drop by again.

    Volkher

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