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UFO - 'Live At The BBC 1974 - 1985' Hot

Added by Central Electronic Brain     October 12, 2013    
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New box set comprising 5 CDs and a DVD.

The UFO discography is littered with live recordings, some official and some not. This new set, comprising 5 CDs and a DVD, is the perfect companion to the 6 disc 'Official Bootleg Box Set' released in 2009 and chronicles the performances recorded for the BBC between 1975 and 1985. For such a well established band, now into their sixth decade, it would be pointless for me to discuss the songs so I will just concentrate on the nature of this set, what it includes and whether it is worth buying.

Disc 1 includes 5 tracks recorded at the Hippodrome in June 1974 and 3 tracks recorded for a Bob Harris session in October 1974. This material was originally featured as part of the BBC Music 'Archive Series' set released in 1999. The material on Disc 2, 6 tracks recorded at the Paris Theatre in December 1975 and 3 tracks recorded for a John Peel session in June 1977, were also included on the 'Archive Series' set. 8 of the 12 tracks from Disc 3, recorded at Hammersmith in February 1980 were included on the 'BBC Radio Live In Concert' CD released in 1992 but this extended collection adds 'Young Blood', 'Doctor Doctor', 'Too Hot To Handle' and 'Rock Bottom'. Disc 4's material, recorded at Hammersmith in January 1982, was featured on the Zoom Club release 'Regenerator-Live 1982' as well as being included in the previously mentioned 'Official Bootleg Box Set'. The Knebworth show, recorded in June 1985, features the only recordings never previously available on CD. I remember recording the show from the radio when it was first broadcast and it was only recently, when trawling through a box of old tapes, that I transferred it to disc.

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UFO have always had something of a revolving door policy when it comes to personnel, the one constant being vocalist Phil Mogg. His unmistakable vocals, coupled with his ability to write some romantically descriptive lyrics could never be replaced and his unpredictable between song banter is always a feature of a UFO show. This 'On Air' set contains 2 discs apiece dedicated to the two most recognised and successful periods of the bands career. The recordings made between 1974 and 1977 demonstrate how talented Michael Schenker was at such an early age. His playing is both melodic and expressive. Witness how he turns the average studio one/two of 'Doctor Doctor' and 'Rock Bottom' into a live tour de force, the sound augmented by the addition of keyboard player Danny Peyronnel. Paul Raymond joined the band in 1976 to play keyboards and also compliment Schenker as a second guitarist. The 1980 and 1982 shows balance new guitarist Paul Chapman's more workmanlike approach with the bands quality song writing ethic. He added a stability on tour and the highlight of the 1982 show is a blistering version of the Elvis Presley classic 'Mystery Train'. Though Paul Raymond had returned in 1985, it was more like a Phil Mogg solo band trading on the UFO name. The writing on the 'Misdemeanour' album demonstrated the label's wishes to push the sound in an American direction and the Knebworth set showcases several songs from that album alongside some more recognisable classics, culminating with an extended version of 'Doctor Doctor'.

All the recordings are completely live and have all been remastered, making them superior to the existing versions and though some songs are repeated a number of times, each version has merits. For me, the best part of the box set is the 30 minute DVD. The clips are taken from The Old Grey Whistle Test, Top Of The Pops and The Oxford Road Show and cover the Paul Chapman era of the band. The outfits have obviously been bought from the Miami Vice catalogue and, despite everyone's best efforts, it is amusing to see the band miming on Top Of The Pops (hell Mogg can't even remember the words these days, to songs he has been singing for nearly 40 years).

I originally picked this set up for around £12, making it more than a bargain. I believe the price has increased considerably since then so whether you buy this or not will depend on your love for the band.

Dave Bott

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