on 4 March 2011
Tracks 1-8 are from the Hammersmith Odeon on 4/2/1980 when UFO was promoting 'No Place To Run'. Featuring 3 songs from that album - the title track, 'Lettin' Go' and 'Mystery Train' in addition to 'Out In The Street', 'Cherry', 'Only You Can Rock Me', 'Love to Love' and 'Lights Out'. The band seems enthused by the new material - 'Mystery Train' features five minutes of sheer fretboard frenzy - although replacement guitarist Paul Chapman seems equally comfortable with (and more than does justice to) the Schenker classics, bringing a much heavier sound and feel to the performance.
Tracks 9-12 show why Chapman was Schenker's natural successor. Although the venue is not mentioned, these sound to be taken from the Hippodrome at Golders Green on 6/6/1974 - 'Built For Comfort', 'Rock Bottom', 'Doctor Doctor' and 'Shoot Shoot'. And although the inlay notes by Neil Jeffries say "perhaps the real gems on this CD are those four ultra-rare cuts taken from 1974", they don't mention that tracks 9-11 feature the twin lead guitars of Schenker (left) and Chapman (right). This short-lived line-up was used to great effect on 'Rock Bottom' with first Schenker then Chapman taking lengthy solos and adds a subtle dimension to the familiar 'Doctor Doctor' riff. ('Shoot Shoot' sees Chapman's guitar replaced by keyboards and ends abrubtly compared to later live versions). Chapman's guitar is much beefier sounding than Schenker's, with skillful use of wah-wah for added interest. One minor criticism - despite being an official BBC licensed recording, although the sound quality is generally very good, 'Built For Comfort' has some crackles that make it sound like it has been taken from vinyl.
Although I'm a fan of both the classic Schenker-era UFO and the first 3 studio albums from MSG, it may be that I'm in a minority in rating Chapman's first 2 UFO albums just as highly. Yes his playing is wilder, but I think it brings it's own qualities for that and hearing the two guitarists together on 'Rock Bottom' is a rare treat, 5* for me on its own - breathtaking!