Music today says farewell to ex UFO bassist Pete Way who has died. He’s the third member of UFO to die in 18 months. In the seventies, before Metal became what it is today, it was just Rock music and I like it. Whether it was Led Zeppelin, Deep Purple, Black Sabbath or what they called NWOBH (New Wave of British Heavy Metal like Def Leppard or UFO), it still just sounded like Rock music to me, like Thin Lizzy did or AC/DC did with Bon Scott. Then something happened and it became Metal. I’m not sure how or when it happened. I saw Judas Priest on what must have been their debut British tour at the St George Hall in Liverpool supporting Budgie (believe it or not). It was weird because the singer had short hair! At this point, they were just a Rock band but at some point, they became a Metal band. I never followed Iron Maiden in the seventies Rock days but it seems that along with Judas Priest they became two of the most successful bands of the Heavy Metal genre. Def Leppard became catchy but UFO remained a Rock band and there’s one or two albums by them that I really liked probably because Metal as such wasn’t their thing.

The first album I liked was Lights Out (1977), it featured Michael Schenker on guitar and really that’s what it was all about for me, his playing. Great tone, great solos. The songs were catchy, and it didn’t have that sound of a juggernaut crashing into planets. On this album there was a cover of Love’s Alone Again Or, it was just a Rock band but when you consider their choice of cover versions they had a varied taste in music. The lyrics weren’t exactly Shakespeare and the chords weren’t exactly Thelonious Monk but they had real songs. The band on this album was Schenker, Phil Mogg on vocals, Andy Parker on drums, Paul Raymond on keys and guitar and Pete Way on bass. Paul Raymond died of a heart attack on April 13th 2019 (guitarist Paul Chapman who replaced Schenker in the band, died on 9th June 2020). Pete Way died on August 14th after complications from a serious accident he had at home. I don’t know what the accident was but after all the dangers of being in a band, he died due to an accident at home. RIP Pete, condolences to friends and family.

Their next album, Obsession (1978), was more of the same, same band members and more great guitar from Michael Schenker and more of what I guess they call Pop Metal but it’s not really Metal, maybe they call it Hard Rock but by today’s standards it’s not hard at all. The guitars solo aren’t silly fast, they’re tastefully fast when they need to be but not fast all the time. There’s a clue as to why Schenker’s guitar sounds like it does apart from the Gibson Flying V he is playing (with no effects), here’s the article.

Strangers In The Night (1979), a double live album, was Schenker’s last album with the band (there was a very short reunion much later). All your favourite Rock guitarists cite this album as one of their favourites. It sounds well-recorded but you never know with these seventies live albums, how much of it is overdubs? Apparently Schenker refused to do any overdubs. But the inside stories we could tell about some of those ‘live’ albums from the seventies like Thin Lizzy’s Live And Dangerous for example…I always admired Jimmy Page because he never considered for a moment that there should be another guitarist to help him with the difficulties of playing live when the studio versions had multiple guitar overdubs, he just made it work.

Last album tonight is the earlier UFO album Phenomenon (1974) that I don’t know as well as the other two studio albums but it’s 19-year-old Michael Schenker’s first album with the band, produced by Leo Lyons from Ten Years After. By the way, there’s 22 studio albums, 14 live recordings, 16 compilation albums and one album of cover songs but the reason I picked Phenomenon isn’t just because Michael Schenker is playing on it, he also plays on Force It (1975) and No Heavy Petting (1976). It’s because of the cover art, designed by Hipgnosis as many of the great album covers of the seventies were. One last thing, UFO formed in 1969 and started as a Space Rock band with guitarist Mick Bolton, if all this is too Rock for you, go visit them in their earlier incarnation in another galaxy.

Songs Of The Daze

Simpler times – Don Kirshner’s Rock concert 1974:


Live At The Roundhouse 1976 and 1977:


The musical musings in this post are an excerpt from my daily blog, TO WHERE I AM NOW, featured on my main website. See more pictures and read the full post here.