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Released: August 1974

UFO is a legendary English band whose reputation has been leaking across the Atlantic for what seems like an eternity. Renowned heavy-metal critics have always spoken glowingly of them ("the ultimate killers" was a characterization by Mike Saunders) but up until now American audiences have had no opportunity to judge the band that's been the scourge of the English club scene for years.

Now that UFO finally has an American album it seems safe to predict that this band will become a very big act in an extremely short time. To be blunt about it, Phenomenon is one of the most exciting debut albums of the year -- an artfully controlled disc lit with furious bits of creative energy. Though this quartet plays loud, hard and frequently very fast, their work is most notable for its diversity and instrumental tension, marking UFO as a group to be dealt with in almost any musical genre they might choose.

Comparisons with Led Zeppelin will be unavoidable, if only because UFO guitarist Michael Schenker closely parallels Jimmy Page in both style and sound. Like Page, Schenker is his band's focal point, with incisive and exciting playing that's guaranteed to make people sit up and take notice. Using a small amp cranked up to full volume he makes his guitar notes almost sing, driving the rest of the band forward in a way most reminiscent of Jeff Beck's Yardbirds.

The album's most impressive cuts are "Rock Bottom" and "Oh My," both furious exercises in frenzied freneticism. On each, Schenker uses bristling power chords to lay down hard-chargin' rhythm tracks; singer Phil Mogg then croons a bit, followed by wailing Schenker's lead workouts. On the former cut Schenker elaborates at great length, pacing his solo so as to reach full overdrive only at its conclusion; on the latter his machine-gun fills almost literally explode off the fretboard.

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"Space Child" spotlights the creative instrumental tension that's so much of a weapon in this band's arsenal. Achieving a sound not unlike that of the now-defunct Wild Turkey, UFO alternates acoustic and electric guitars to great effect, with Schenker's incendiary lead building the number to a gripping climax. UFO also finds time to do blues, Willie Dixon's "Built For Comfort" in this case, which they render lowdown and funky, ZZ Top-style.

History has shown that bands like this are usually five times better onstage than they are in the recording studio, so UFO is certainly a band to watch for when they come over on their initial American tour. Their album is great, the cover one of the year's best, and if their American vinyl debut is a truthful indication of their skills, UFO seems destined to become a phenomenon of major proportions.

- Gordon Fletcher, Rolling Stone, 9/12/74.

Bonus Review!

Excellent rock effort, featuring the vocals of Phil Mogg who may well be one of the best straight rock singers to come out of Britain since the initial musical invasion a decade ago and a solid backup that is basic but full of quality. Band has put together what amounts to 10 potential singles, with all but one self-penned. Little if any overdubbing here, as the band sticks to a live style sound. First English band to come along in some time that seems to be able to handle rock without succumbing to the most outrageous commercialism. Best cuts: "Too Young To Know," "Doctor Doctor," "Time On My Hands," "Oh My."

- Billboard, 1974.

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