UFO – Phenomenon [Deluxe Edition 2019 Remaster]
UFO are widely regarded as one of the UK’s best hard rock acts in history and this 2019 (their final one) are celebrating their 50th year in existence with their final world tour and the remastered reissue of their catalog. “Phenomenon” was the band’s debut for Chrysalis and a departure from the bands previous Space Rock sound to a Heavier Rock style. This was also the debut for Michael Schenker who was going to have a major influence on the band.
This “Phenomenon Deluxe Edition” includes a bonus disc of B-sides, demos & outtakes which are must for fans, plus an extra CD with the lendary live recording ‘Live At The Electric Ballroom’ now properly mastered, all handled by the great Andy Pearce (Rock Candy Records).
“Phenomenon” is the first UFO album as many people know them. The initial band’s albums were spacey/bluesy rock but after playing in Germany with a young group named Scorpions Phil Mogg & Pete Way were amazed by that teenager guitarist Michael Schenker and asked him to join them.
As result, UFO were firmly planted in ’70s hard rock. “Phenomenon” signaled a tougher change in the band’s sound and still stands as a signpost of British rock from the era.
I had forgotten how good that album is, maybe my preferred studio album of the line-up with Michael Schenker. Sure, later UFO developed a much more tight sound and refined songwriting, but “Phenomenon” has some kind of ‘magic’. And “Doctor Doctor” plus “Rock Bottom” are classic UFO anthems.
But there’s other songs that are well worth hearing –even now– a long way from 1974. “Lipstick Traces” is a delicate instrumental that belied the bands harder rocking side. And UFO hasn’t forgotten its bluesy/rock side, with Willie Dixon’s “Built For Comfort”.
Most every track has something to offer for fans of ’70s British rock, and as a starting point in the bands era of popularity on the live stage.
The original edition CD doesn’t sound so good, and the previous remasters of this album have been a bit disappointing.
Andy Pearce’s 2019 remastering sounds absolutely amazing, warmer, no snap crackles, with the proper dynamic range close to the sound of the original Chrysalis LP and at the same time ready for modern audio players.
This three CD set improves on earlier versions of this album with a great second disc of demos, non album ‘B’ sides, single edits, instrumentals, and backing tracks.
For fans of this album the material is a must – it’s more UFO during a period of great excitement in having a guitarist like Schenker who knew his way around a fret board – listen to the demo of “Sixteen” for some smokin’ guitar and a fine Mogg vocal.
And the single edits of “Doctor Doctor” (even the mono single edit version has some oomph) and “Rock Bottom” (don’t listen to this while driving or you’ll find yourself going way too fast) are great performances, and brings back that whole period when you’d hear these tunes on the radio.
The third disc is UFO live from Atlanta ’74. This is 45 + minutes of the band’s first U.S. tour, and they attack the music with tough versions of “Oh My”, “Doctor Doctor” (a perennial crowd favorite) with its quiet intro–that soon fires up with Schenker once again showing what he can do playing some savage chords–and lets not forget Pete Way’s bass playing that anchors the bottom end perfectly.
The band is still in thrall to the blues with “Built For Comfort”, with Schenker throwing out some tough blues/rock sounds. There’s equally tough versions of “Give Her The Gun”, “Cold Turkey” (with an especially fine solo that just keeps up the intensity from start to finish), plus a nice version of “Space Child” that’s a brief respite from all the firepower, but with Schenker playing a fine slippery guitar solo.
Of course live the band has to play “Rock Bottom” (another crowd favorite) that hits pretty hard as it should. And finishing with “Prince Kujuku” which is a look back to earlier times, but updated to a tougher sound on this live version.
The sound quality obtained with this remastering is amazing, no inner groove nastyness or distortion on the higher notes of the guitar solos, oozing the raw talent of the band.
“Phenomenon Deluxe Edition” is a very fine look at the beginnings of UFO’s tougher sound from the mid ’70s. This is a classic UFO album, and some kind of milestone in British rock.
And now with all the extra tracks and a live set fully remastered — and for a nice price — how can fans of UFO / classic hard rock pass this by?
Disc 1 – Phenomenon 2019 Remaster
01 – Too Young to Know (2019 Remaster)
02 – Crystal Light (2019 Remaster)
03 – Doctor Doctor (2019 Remaster)
04 – Space Child (2019 Remaster)
05 – Rock Bottom (2019 Remaster)
06 – Oh My (2019 Remaster)
07 – Time on My Hands (2019 Remaster)
08 – Built for Comfort (2019 Remaster)
09 – Lipstick Traces (2019 Remaster)
10 – Queen of the Deep (2019 Remaster)
Disc 2 – Phenomenon Bonus Disc
01 – Sixteen (Demo)
02 – Oh My (Demo)
03 – Give Her the Gun (A-Side Single)
04 – Sweet Little Thing (A-Side Single)
05 – Sixteen (Outtake)
06 – Doctor Doctor (Single Edit)
07 – Rock Bottom (Single Edit)
08 – Doctor Doctor (Mono Single Edit)
09 – Oh My (Instrumental Rough Mix)
10 – Sixteen (Instrumental Rough Mix)
11 – Doctor Doctor (Instrumental Rough Mix)
12 – Rock Bottom (Rough Mix)
13 – Time on My Hands (Rough Mix)
14 – Built for Comfort (Rough Mix)
15 – Lipstick Application (Instrumental Rough Mix)
16 – Queen of the Deep (Early Version)
Disc 3 – Live At The Electric Ballroom, Atlanta, 5th November 1974
01 – Oh My (Live in Atlanta – 2019 Remaster)
02 – Doctor Doctor (Live in Atlanta – 2019 Remaster)
03 – Built For Comfort (Live in Atlanta – 2019 Remaster)
04 – Give Her The (Live in Atlanta – 2019 Remaster)
05 – Cold Turkey (Live in Atlanta – 2019 Remaster)
06 – Space Child (Live in Atlanta – 2019 Remaster)
07 – Rock Bottom (Live in Atlanta – 2019 Remaster)
08 – Prince Kujuku (Live in Atlanta – 2019 Remaster)
Phil Mogg – vocals
Michael Schenker – guitar
Pete Way – bass guitar
Andy Parker – drums