Saturday, June 6, 2009
U - UFO - "Force It"
Can anyone clearly define the line that separates “good” hard rock from “mediocre”? Is it in the quality of songwriting? Musicianship? Production? Marketing? Album cover design? Fashion sense? A cool name?
There are so many rock bands of the 70’s & 80’s that sound exactly alike (typified by Whitesnake, the most blatantly stereotypical hard rock band) that it is difficult to sort the wheat from the chaff. The bands I'm takling about are more song & melody oriented than heavy metal, usually evoking a macho cock-rock pose, with a flashy lead guitarist and journeyman singer with tight tight trousers, while keeping an eye on the charts.
UFO fits the bill nicely. I kinda wanted to like this record a lot, mainly because they seemed to be this bunch of guys plugging along for years, slowly building a fan base up from a cult following to finally achieve success & stardom. Which happened to them to a degree in England, at least. Over here, they did nothing. And of course, by the time they made the charts, they were spent creatively and quickly fragmented, especially with the departure of ace guitarist Michael Schenker (Germans rule!!!) (I mean that I like German rockers, not that Germans are necessarily better than everyone. I’ll stop talking now.), who was the most unique & talented player in the band.
In fact, on “Force It” (nice), Schenker really is the only standout, playing nice melodic solos & riffs – not overplaying like some of this show-off peers – though Pete Way contributes some nice plonking bass. Singer Phill Mogg, despite his awesome last name, could be featured in the dictionary under “Generic rock singer”; he’s got a decent voice with some oomph behind it, but he’s doing nothing but singing the words, which also could be featured in the dictionary under “Generic rock lyrics”. Side one goes by and you never really notice it, except for the last song “Out in the Street”. Side two, though, is actually quite listenable, and a huge improvement over side one. Three out of the four songs are very catchy, and two of them (“Mother Mary”, “This Kid’s”) have interesting arrangements and make you say, “hmmm, those kids ain’t too bad”, even though that‘s not the most ringing endorsement for an up & coming rock band.
Verdict: way better than Whitesnake, but so are the Spice Girls.