Phil Mogg - vocals; Andy Parker - drums; Danny Peyronel - keyboards; Michael Schenker - guitar; Pete Way - bass
Formed in England in 1969, UFO began as a hard rocking outfit with plenty of emphasis on space-rock and riff-heavy boogie. Their first two albums bore a passing resemblance to early Deep Purple with a healthy dose of the space-metal of Hawkwind mixed in. These early albums found great success in Japan, France and Germany, but met with general indifference in their native country and the United States. A third live album, which was released exclusively in Japan, showed the band to be an engaging act onstage, but did little toward increasing their exposure. In June of 1973, all this took a turn for the better, when teenager Michael Schenker of the German metal band Scorpions permanently joined the group on guitar. Although Schenker spoke not a word of English, his guitar playing sensibilities communicated plenty with the core band members and it was during this time that UFO's music really began to jell.
This Record Plant session from September of 1975, before a small in-studio audience, will be a welcome discovery to fans of the band's Phenomenon/Force It era, the first two albums to feature Schenker on guitar. Although a bit of their space-rock sound remained on these albums, this was clearly a transitional period. UFO were forging ahead into new territory, creating original music that in retrospect, can now be seen as a bridge between hard rock and early heavy metal. Cited as a primary influence by the likes of Kirk Hammett of Metallica, Steve Harris of Iron Maiden and Dave Mustaine of Megadeath, this era of UFO was certainly a precursor to the 1980s heavy metal scene.
UFO's Record Plant set is particularly intriguing as it captures much of the band's best material from the 1974 album Phenomenon, as well as the 1975 follow-up, Force It, the two albums which gained them increased visibility in the States and Europe. Although technically a studio recording, the presence of a live audience and the raw live nature of these performances display the band in good form and playing as a tighter unit than ever before. With Schenker on board, the sound has a harder edged guitar-driven sound and these performances have a raw immediacy that the more sterilized album versions lack.
The Phenomenon album is well represented by "Oh My," "Space Child" and their tribute to Willie Dixon, "Built For Comfort." However it's the live takes of "Doctor Doctor" and a nearly nine-minute rendition of "Rock Bottom" (both also from Phenomenon) that begin approaching the group's best work.
These early live renditions of the Force It material take it a step further and this is the music that truly established the band. With Schenker's trademark sustained tone and riffs to spare, "Let It Roll" kicks the show off with one of their most popular songs of this era. Later in the set is "Mother Mary," a crunching riff-laden beast in the vein of Black Sabbath, as well as "Shoot Shoot," both written by the band as a whole and reflecting a new level of creativity. The lyric writing has progressed on this material and their instrumental abilities are reaching new heights here. They also perform "Out In The Street," another great track from Force It. This ballad contains one of Schenker's most memorable guitar breaks as well as a strong emotive vocal from Mogg. Eddie Cochran's "C'Mon Everybody" closes this memorable set.