Wednesday, August 15, 2012
UFO - One More For The Rodeo?
I keep having a recurring dream. I'm sitting in a tall, comfortable chair in the control room of a recording studio. My ears are ringing, and I'm pleasantly laughing at a mix of a track that has just been finalized. Also laughing beside me is my friend, producer Fabrizio Grossi, who has just done the mix. I look up at the glass that separates the control room from the studio, and in the reflection I see the members of UFO's classic lineup, and they too have large grins upon their faces. Then I wake up - with a smile on my face.
Now, this could be wishful thinking on my part, or it could potentially be prescience. Let's consider the possibilities.
Now, here we are, and 2013 will mark the 40th anniversary of the rather unholy, but glorious musical marriage of Phil Mogg and Michael Schenker. I'm glad to say that both are healthy and happy - Mogg is leading UFO into yet another American tour beginning in October, and Michael is continuing a year of very successful touring with his year's second trip to the colonies. Both are wrapping things up in December and heading back to their neighborhood in England - yeah, they live in the same neighborhood. Even wayward bassist Pete Way is in the same enclave. Had this occurred twenty years ago it may have resembled a war zone, or at least an opium den of inequity.
For several months, the Internet has been rumbling with rumors of a possible classic lineup reunion for UFO - both camps still rely very heavily on UFO's 1979 live album, Strangers in the Night, for their set lists, and for the first time Mogg and Schenker are not just sober and sane, they are both remembering the good times not the bad, and smiling when one another is mentioned. The potential for a reunion that would actually be done for the right reasons is finally a real possibility. Not for the money, not for contractual obligation, but for the fans, the players, and the legacy.
One could easily argue that things are fine just as they are - that perhaps it might be well advised to let sleeping dogs lie. I've heard this argument many times, and while I see the point, I also see it as the cowards way out. Nothing is every gained without a risk being taken.
Seven Deadly is UFO's latest album and it showed the band to be in good shape, especially Phil Mogg, but it was noticeably weak in the riff writing department. What made the classic UFO lineup great was always Schenker's guitars, mixed with Mogg's lyrical sophistication and melody writing. Not to detract from any player - it is simply a fact that Michael Schenker is one of the most gifted composers in the realm of rock.
What we are left with is the fact that when together, Phil and Michael were very synergistic. Neither has ever matched the brilliance they share as a team. I don't know exactly how they feel about this, but by a huge margin, their fans favor and fervently hope for another reconciliation.
The time is right. Both are still creatively strong, they've lessened their dependence on intoxicants, and both are coming off a very successful year.
I've spoken with a lot of people who are close to either Schenker or Mogg, and I have yet to hear the word no when possibility of a reunion is discussed. In fact, I'm being told that this is very much being considered. Some have bandied about the possibility of the UFO song Waving Goodbye being Mogg's swansong, but I don't think that's the case, at all. If Mogg was saying so long, I think he'd do it in a splashier way than another jaunt up and down the California club circuit. His legacy deserves better than that, and I think when he hangs up the mic for the final time, I hope it will be worthy of his brilliant career, and his wonderful fans.
UFO is a band which is still bristling with positive energy, and more than capable of flexing it's musical muscles. Michael Schenker is playing as well as he ever has, and seems poised for a creative rebirth that has amazing potential - with his brother wrapping up his touring obligations with Scorpions, the possibility of the two brothers working together again is almost guaranteed, but Rudolf has many projects to be completed and he will surely require some time off after several years of road work. In the meantime, there will never be a more perfect moment for UFO to create another batch of brilliance with Michael Schenker. Neither the band, nor Schenker has ever recreated the glory of Strangers in the Night, and the fans of both seem to be rooting very heavily for this to happen.
There you have it. I've been bombarded over the last two months by questions related to the possibility of a classic lineup UFO reunion, and I have had the pleasure of having little birds whispering about such possibilities in both my ears (read as: from sources very close to both camps). I must say that I have not spoken directly with any of the principals concerning this issue, but again, all talk from both sides has sounded very promising.
In the meantime, drop me a line here in the comments letting me know your thoughts, and as always, thanks for reading.
Apologies to all I have named and rumored about - I am always a fan first, and willfully admit to greedily wanting to hear what I think would be something wonderful. In any event, I wish every success to all, and great thanks for a lifetime of great music.
What say fellas, one more for the rodeo?