So only 8 tracks, possibly a little short for 1981 but UFO certainly make each one count. Nothing is wasted here, the combination of fierce hard rock and AOR making a strong impact.
Written by: Lee South Africa
ALBUM: The Wild, The Willing And The Innocent
SERIAL: CHR 1307
CD REISSUE: Discogs Reissue List
COUNTRY OF ORIGIN: England
LINEUP: Phil Mogg – vocals * Paul Chapman – guitars * Pete Way – bass * Neil Carter – rhythm guitar, keyboards, sax * Andy Parker – drums
TRACK LISTING: 01 Chains Chains * 02 Long Gone * 03 The Wild The Willing The Innocent * 04 It’s Killing Me * 05 Making Moves * 06 Lonely Heart * 07 Couldn’t Get It Right * 08 Profession Of Violence
WEBLINKS: Site Link
UFO entered 1981 ready to work on their second post Schenker album, Paul Chapman back in the fold as if he hadn’t been away. The previous year’s ‘No Place To Run’ had assaulted the charts but the band felt a little uneasy about the somewhat lighter approach it represented, George Martin’s production and the island paradise studio locale seemingly the main culprits (I happen to approve of the sound they achieved).
In addition, Paul Raymond had departed and multi instrumentalist Neil Carter (ex Wild Horses) was drafted in. So it was that a tougher sound would be pursued, the band would self produce the album in London, a robust urban atmosphere to permeate the sessions. That was the plan anyway. In the end the sound did toughen up somewhat but the AOR direction wasn’t entirely left behind, as the songs will show.
‘Chains Chains’ perfectly captures UFO’s ability to take very basic hard rock and make it exciting with extra dynamics and melodic appeal. Nothing complicated here, no urgent pace either, yet such is the UFO skill that these very simple ingredients are transformed into smouldering intensity. A strong hard rock chorus is in play, not quite AOR but you can feel it’s around the next corner.
‘Long Gone’ is far superior for me, blending the much discussed Led Zeppelin styled drumming with a hook that defies any more fishing metaphors. This shifts in mood and tempo, always melodic to the extreme with a superb chorus on the highway flyover, managing to be hard rock and AOR all at once. Classic song.
Title track ‘The Wild The Willing And The Innocent’ opens up with some strident piano bits before that barnstorming verse/rhythm kicks into place, the perfect driveway to lead us to another palacial AOR chorus. This is not miles away from ‘Allied Forces’ era Triumph at times, a blend of tough hard rock and AOR making for another tick in the win column. I really enjoyed the backing vocal in the chorus, could that be Neil Carter?
‘It’s Killing Me’ is often described as a ballad, a little off the mark I reckon. The verses are downbeat I’ll admit, but a hard driving AOR chorus changes lanes into the April Wine highway. Sheer simplicity and all the better for it, loved the keyboard backing as well.
‘Makin’ Moves’ deposits us back into outright hard rock, the main riff as basic as it is brutal. This one trucks along quite relentlessly, lower in the melody department but the intensity is ever present.
‘Lonely Heart’ swings out of barren terrain and into AOR Boulevard, raising the bar several notches. This was a real precursor to the awesome hard AOR UFO would treat us to for much of the 80’s. As a single it got them an appearance on Top Of The Pops, yet the pop consuming public were not won over. Great AOR track though, including Neil Carter’s saxophone bits that so famously angered Pete Way.
‘Couldn’t Get It Right’ maintains the AOR direction, flanged guitar backdropping the main riff was a great touch, the melody and vocals calling Cheap Trick to mind. Coffee meter redlining at this point.
The album closes with ‘Profession Of Violence’, apparently this was going to be the album title originally. Now this is a genuine ballad, stunning piano tinkling, an emotive melody and Mogg gearing down to a much smoother vocal that he manages with ease. Chapman provides the proverbial cherry on top with a Gary Moore styled liquid guitar solo that should be compulsory listening.
So only 8 tracks, possibly a little short for 1981 but UFO certainly make each one count. Nothing is wasted here, the combination of fierce hard rock and AOR making a strong impact. I’d venture to say that fans of both genres would find plenty to enjoy, this is a far cry from the bland fare they’re dredging up these days.
The album charted in the British top 20 and managed a top 100 placing on Billboard as well. Neil Carter would exert increasing AOR influence on the band’s next few albums, making 80’s UFO an important find for those AOR diehards who thought they were heavy rock purveyors only.
Entire Album (Select Tracks)