April 24, 2024

UFO – ‘No Heavy Petting’ – Remastered Deluxe Edition – “Songs hold a dirty glamour”

CHRYSALIS RECORDS 20th January 2023

Here’s an oldie that brings together a couple of nice things – both previously available but not together. There’s the 1975 album, a live set and a few extras, pretty much all of it very welcome.

For me, ‘No Heavy Petting’ is where UFO hit their stride. With heavier albums beforehand, this one recognised the bluesy soul of Phil Mogg’s voice and amped up the rock ballads. In fact it opens on the double punch of ‘Natural Thing’ and ‘I’m A Loser’, both of which would be constants in their live shows right up to when I last saw them in 2009. The album is still definitively what was known as hard rock back then but a melodic version that held a special British melancholy. Songs hold a dirty glamour, adding a romance to gritty down-at-heel street life, getting by to live the rock life.

A handful of extras have turned up before but aren’t too shabby, including a cover of the Small Faces’ ‘All Or Nothing’, and you can always skip them at the end of the main album. Have You Seen Me Lately Joan turns up twice – the second time as an acoustic demo that highlight’s Mogg’s voice.

The live set has appeared before but makes the perfect companion. Recorded at London’s Roundhouse in 1976, it features tracks from this album plus earlier (and a few later). The temperature is raised and rock levels turned up. Not only do we get more of Phil’s gentle words between songs but we get more guitar solos – ‘Rock Bottom’ gets a ten minute workout and the closing half-hour triptych stretches over nearly half an hour. Both these sets featured poor damned Michael Schenker’s heavenly guitar, pure hard blues. Living the fabled rock life a little too real, it wasn’t long before he was sacked for that getting in the way of actually performing the rock life. For a brief period his guitar graced the lyrical hard rock of UFO and was perhaps best showcased in the ‘Strangers In The Night’ live double album. Sharing half a set with that album, this live set is packed with goodies and a nicely authentic feel of a real evening at The Roundhouse, documenting a band at perhaps their peak.

Available on double CD and triple clear vinyl, this is a reminder that the mid-seventies weren’t totally the dead period that punk histories would have us believe.

We caught the band in 2009 – review and pictures here:

https://www.vanguard-online.co.uk/0907LUFO.htm

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