UFO – Strangers In The Night

Strangers in the Night (UFO album)
If anyone can explain this album cover to me….Strangers in the Night (UFO album) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

When UFO played Knebworth in 1985 I was blown away by their hard rock sound.

UFO were named after the famed psychedelic club that spawned Pink Floyd and even in 1985 they had been going longer than Sharon Osbourne’s Botox treatments.

Their set at Knebworth displayed their back catalogue to the full. It was a set loaded with more vintage classics than Keith Moon’s swimming pool and I knew a visit to the record store might be worthwhile to dig out their back catalogue.

UFO were one of those potentially tricky bands with a few good albums in the back catalogue, but apparently also some real early duffers.

The thing about UFO was that they hadn’t always stuck to hard rock. That only happened when they recruited a young German guitarist called Michael Schenker on a free transfer from The Scorpions (’70s heavy rock is very incestuous). This was a good move, because until then both bands were as unremarkable as a civil servants convention in Shrewsbury on a rainy day, and both subsequently hit mid season form, and their creative and commercial peaks.

Prior to this UFO peddled something called Space Rock. The only way to judge whether this was worth listening to was to look at the front and back cover of the albums for clues. This became quite a skill, so to see if you also possess this talent, here’s a short test:

One of these records is Space Rock, one is 70’s Hard Rock. Both are by UFO.

Record 1: The cover features a photo of a man and woman in the shower in a tight clinch. She is wearing significantly fewer clothes than the man, notably no skirt or underclothes. In a “clever” twist (and to counter accusations of sexism) the woman appears to be the keener of the two. The album is sensitively titled “Force It” (an early example of a rock band confusing “sexy” with “sexist” – I assume this is one of many inspirations for Spinal Tap’s “Smell The Glove”)  There are nine songs listed on the back, most less than five minutes long. In a further clever punning twist, there are a number of Faucets in the foreground.

Record 2: The cover features an illustration of a bald man flying past some flying saucers. There are five songs listed including “Flying” that lasts 26 minutes and “Star Storm” that lasts 19 minutes. A character named “Prince Kajuku” gets a mention in two of the remaining three songs.

How did you do? Did you guess correctly?

Like many other seventies rock bands (Whitesnake, Rainbow, Deep Purple etc) that have reformed a few times, UFO have a strong back catalogue…of former band members: according to Wikipedia UFO have 35 former members – which by my reckoning is only three fewer than The Sugababes.

Fortunately, (and new album notwithstanding) the band is best defined by a single (or rather double) album: the truly wonderful “Strangers In The  Night”.

The record perfectly encapsulates everything that is good about them. It is one of the greatest double live albums ever – and so good that you don’t really have to listen to any of their studio albums to get a feel for how good this band was. That, if nothing else, saves a bit of time in this busy modern world and gives us more time to check the pictures of all those former Sugababes…

Record 24 – UFO – Strangers In The Night

UFO’s new album is called “Seven Deadly” and the band are on tour in the UK between now and the 4th April and in Europe thereafter





6 responses to “UFO – Strangers In The Night”

  1. Phillip Helbig Avatar

    “UFO were one of those potentially tricky bands with a few good albums in the back catalogue, but apparently also some real early duffers.”

    I often listen to Planet Rock. Most of the time, my expectations are confirmed, but recently I’ve heard a few songs by bands whose recordings I don’t own which I thought were quite good: UFO, Thin Lizzy and Iron Maiden. I picked up a budget “best of” of Thin Lizzy as a starting point. Eddie kept me from checking out Maiden for decades, but perhaps there is some good music lurking behind the show. Recommendations? I recall “Lights Out” from UFO. Even if this live album is good, which studio album do you recommend? How good is the new album? (I read a good review.)


    1. every record tells a story Avatar

      I’ll be commenting on Iron Maiden in a post shortly. I think that common consensus is that “Lights Out” is UFO’s best album, but I would stick to “Strangers in the Night” for the band at their best – it’s one of those rare live albums (Thin Lizzy’s “Live and Dangerous” is another) where most of the live versions are better than the studio versions.


  2. Mark Avatar

    While I agree with you about Strangers In The Night being one of the greatest live albums of all time, I have to say that UFO didn’t have any “Duffers”. Not counting the first two “Space Rock” albums, which were very good for what they were, all five of the UFO with Michael Schenker albums are exceptional. Their Chrysalis debut Phenomenon recorded when Schenker was only 17 years old , shows a band moving in a harder edged rock direction.Their second album Force It , was even better as was their third album No Heavy Petting. But they really stepped it up with the addition of Paul Raymond on keyboards/guitar/backing vocals and song writing on Lights Out which cracked the top 20 in America. With the title song Lights Out and the epic Love To Love UFO were moving upwards. And on their next outing, and last studio album featuring Schenker ,Obsession is considered by many to be their best studio effort . (Both Lights Out and Obsession were produced by the legendary Ron Nevison) Which leads us to the brilliant Strangers In The Night album. UFO were/are a tremendously influential band, and I believe that if Schenker wouldn’t have left, they would have been huge, as big or bigger than Led Zeppelin, Black Sabbath, Van Halen Etc. Etc. Thank You.


  3. stardog23 Avatar

    Just to point out, it’s two women on the cover of “Force it”


    1. Every Record Tells A Story Avatar

      Is it? Blimey…never knew that.
      I just had another look at the cover, and I’m still not sure, mind you. I’ll take your word for it.


  4. Nick Avatar

    Without question obsession i believe is their best studio record. To me, i have obsession in my top 10 of favorite records from every band. When Mike left ufo, they were never the same again. What could have been if he had stayed ???????


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