Review by Paul Monkhouse for MPM
By the time UFO had entered the studio to record fourth album ‘Force It’, they’d already cemented their reputation as one of the finest hard rock bands in the country.
Building on the game-changing success of ‘Phenomenon’ with its solid gold standards ‘Doctor Doctor’ and ‘Rock Bottom’ and the addition of German guitar prodigy Michael Schenker to their ranks, the new line-up pushed forward and continued to refine all that would see them reach lofty new heights.
There was a real chemistry at play here and the bringing together of Schenker, Phil Mogg, Pete Way and Andy Parker saw the band ready and able to conquer the world.
This new remastered edition of the classic 1975 album sees a clarity and polish that befits such a classy outfit, highlighting the sonic interplay and all the nuances.
With the added bonus of live show recorded in New York, this is an essential purchase for even the most casual of fans and looks sure to convert them into devoted worshipers at this particular church of rock ‘n’ roll.
The album sees the band upping the heaviness, the driving opener ‘Let It Roll’ tearing out of the gate in a real statement of intent and pointing to what’s to come. Following this with another classic in the form of ‘Shoot Shoot’ was a crystal-clear indication that here was a band that had not only found it’s groove but was already cutting Grand Canyon size impression with it.
These two numbers are so familiar now but given this chance to revisit and truly listen again as a whole, they have a whole frisson of excitement that crackles like static electricity within the notes that must have been absolutely extraordinary upon their initial release.
The gorgeous, acoustic driven ‘High Flyer’ is a deft display of their craft, the handling of the more pensive and laid back material done with great aplomb and the classy radio rock stylings of ‘Love Lost Love’ paved the way for bands like Boston who must of surely been inspired by the quartet.
Another fine feature of the album comes with the keys work of Ten Years After’s Chick Churchill, his added touches elevating a mighty ‘Out In The Street’ to even greater heights, filling the sound with the perfect colours to compliment the quicksilver guitar work of Schenker.
A great balance between menace and swagger, the pugilistic rocker was another highpoint of ‘Force It’ and showed just what a powerful writing team the various components were.
With such a rock solid and locked in rhythm section behind them, both Mogg and the guitarist could truly stretch themselves with utter confidence and ‘Mother Mary’ is a fine example of both men at their heights, classing the track as one of the finest in their back catalogue and a real highpoint in such an already stellar album.
The Pete Way written bruiser ‘Too Much Of Nothing’ lets the bass player display not just his chops as a musician but also his skill with a melody and lyric, his natural confidence exuding out from every note and when joined by the relentless drumming skills of Parker, they were untouchable as a driving force.
‘Dance Your Life Away’ is all Southern Rock hued hard-nosed boogie, infused with the snot and fire of a London street gang as it mixes whisky and switchblades and the vibe continues into ‘This Kid’s’ hard rock.
When the latter half of the track segues into the much gentler ‘Between The Walls’ the transition is a seamless and utterly natural one, the twenty year old guitarist displaying the verve he had from his unfeasibly early start in the Scorpions and gives in mile high letters the very reason why UFO asked him to join them.
With the bonus track of ‘A Million Miles’ coming on like a prescient mash up of Bad Company and Supertramp closing the release, it still remains one of the high points of not just the band’s career but of 70’s hard rock.
The show recorded at the Record Plant in New York the same year as the release of the album shows the band at their most dangerous, telling the radio presenter introducing the evening apologising for the late start.
Whether this was due to technical issues or other, potentially more ‘fluid’ reasons is not said but there’s certainly a looseness at the start of the eleven song set that gives the recording a real edge.
From the hard hitting ‘Let It Roll’, ‘Doctor Doctor’ and ‘Oh My’ trio that open, through to their take on Willie Dixon’s ‘Built For Comfort’ and the closing killer blow of ‘Shoot Shoot’ and ‘Rock Bottom’, here is the band at its most feral.
Whilst UFO would fly to even greater heights with arguably the best live album of all time in the form of ‘Strangers In The Night’, this is a thrilling record of their untamed power at the time.
Armed with an array of songs that still remain the envy of many, the musical chops to wipe the floor with all contenders to their crown, a class and style that was second to none and a fire blazing in their eyes, UFO were unbeatable. This edition of ‘Force It’ proves that with no margin of doubt.
Orders now being taken at https://ufo.lnk.to/forceit