Thursday, October 2, 2014

Throwback Thursday: Phenomenon, by UFO

In 1974, British hard rock band UFO had a new member added to its line-up: at the time young German guitarist Michael Schenker. With Schenker in the UFO's ranks, the band's most iconic classic line-up would be complete and in May of 1974 would release the album Phenomenon; which has the band's best known tune Doctor Doctor amongst other tunes well known in the classic hard rock/heavy metal community.

Where UFO's sound had been primarily bluesy space rock before, the addition of Schenker gave the band a more hard rock vibe to its sound especially in songs like: Doctor Doctor and Rock Bottom. However, there are a few songs on Phenomenon that still have very much an outer space kind of overtone to them such as: Space Child and Crystal Light. Interestingly enough however, there are quite a few tunes on the album that are not as much hard rock as you would expect. There are quite a few surprises.

Doctor Doctor is one tune that has been covered to death by countless heavy metal bands, including Iron Maiden in the late 90's. The build up at the start of the tune lets you know right away that something absolutely amazing is about to happen. When it breaks into the dual harmonized guitar riff that defines the song, the listener is NOT let down. Doctor Doctor is an upper mid-tempo swing rhythm but still has some real balls to it. Surprisingly there is no guitar solo, but with the main riff being what it is, it really doesn't need it.

Space Child on the other hand is far more laid back, but you get to hear more of Schenker's melodic soloing ability near the end. It is a bit of a forlorn sounding ballad but in a way makes you really feel like you're just aimlessly floating through outer space. Besides Schenker's soloing the focus of the song seems to be more on vocalist Phil Mogg's singing as well as what he is singing about. If you're in a bit of a down mood this song will absolutely hit the spot by empathizing with what you feel and then make you feel free at the same time as you listen to Schenker talk to you with his guitar.

To be fair, the other members of UFO had every bit as much of a part of Phenomenon as Michael Schenker did, but it was really the addition of him that made them everything that they could possibly be and more. Schenker shows off his wide range of capabilities with soft melodic instrumentals like Lipstick Traces to upbeat heavy metal rockers like Rock Bottom to blues infused tunes like Built For Comfort. Phenomenon really does have a lot of variety in it. It's worth the money to add it to your 70's rock or heavy metal collection.

Phenomenon, by UFO receives 4 out 5 stars.

Track List:

1. Too Young to Know
2. Crystal Light
3. Doctor Doctor
4. Space Child
5. Rock Bottom
6. Oh My
7. Time On My Hands
8. Built For Comfort
9. Lipstick Traces
10. Queen of the Deep

Buy the album on Amazon:

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