Martin Popoff - Lettin' Go: UFO in the 80's & 90's - Book
There ya go folks, finally here, follow up to Lights Out… the celebration of the Paul Chapman albums, the weird ones, plus Waysted, classic MSG, all the way up to Walk on Water, and almost as damned important as anything, Chocolate Box—full look at this stone cold classic that should have been a UFO record.
As my introduction explains… I’ve been taking a number of my books that have been out of print and breaking them into early and later years books, and here are the epoch-closing results of breaking my old 2005 book, UFO: Shoot Out the Lights into two action-packed volumes.
So, what you’re looking at here is the follow-up to Lights Out: Surviving the ‘70s with UFO, which covered quite tidily sort of 1969 to 1979, comprising the Mick Bolton era of the band and the original Michael Schenker era of the band.
The present volume, I gotta tell you, one of the most hotly debated topics in the UFO community is how much the Paul “Tonka” Chapman era of the band gets short shrift. And yes, you can count me in the controversial camp that picks Paul over Michael. Or, well, not really. I prefer Michael as an artist, but I prefer the songs on the albums with Paul, and really, that’s down to both Paul and Neil Carter, essentially at the music end. So yes, pretty much my heart tells me that my three favourite UFO albums, in order, are No Place to Run, The Wild, the Willing and the Innocent plus Mechanix. Now, sure, it gets a little filmy with Mechanix, because on any given day. I could put the likes of No Heavy Petting or Obsession over that one, but you get the point. Actually, it’s kind of shocking to me how much I like Mechanix now, because back in the day, I thought it was goofy. Still, there is a warmth there that is missing from the ‘70s output, and that’s really what it all comes down to for me in old age: which of these records keep me happy?
This is why it was such a joy doing this book, because what you find in the following pages is the most detailed and reverent examination of the first three UFO albums of the ‘80s that has ever been committed to print thus far. And then, of course, it’s on and on into the twilight years, where, frankly, the music ain’t so hot. But then there’s the return of Michael Schenker for Walk on Water, and that record… many, many UFO fans think that one is just peachy, as do I.
So again, I’m always quite surprised the heated debate between which version of UFO is better, the Michael Schenker era or the Paul Chapman era. I mean, obviously, the huge consensus is that the band’s golden era was the latter half of the ‘70s with Michael, and in fact it’s always a little disconcerting to see that many of those who believe that, completely dismiss the Paul Chapman albums. But we Paul Chapman plumpers, we seem to be open-minded enough to love the Schenker albums as well. What gives there?
Anyway, more about process, what you’re going to realize in the following pages is that this current volume is set up similar to the Lights Out book, which was pretty much an examination of the albums, track by track, production, playing, lyrics, album covers, just bam, bam, bam and onto the next album, demarcated because each project gets a chapter, pure and simple. This is what I care about: the albums. Hope you do too.
One other note, for those of you who managed to get a copy of my Shoot Out the Lights book, I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised at the wealth of new information that has been added to this volume, and much of it through new primary interviews I’ve done with the likes of Andy Parker, Paul Chapman, Paul Gray, Nick Tauber, Kit Woolven, Laurence Archer, along with additional interviews with the expected suspects, Michael Schenker, Phil Mogg and Paul Raymond (I don’t think I’ve had another personal chat with Pete Way since, but oh well).
By the way, something pop fruity I should mention, I’ve taken a few side trips here and there, because I wanted to make sure I gave justice to a few great UFO “family” albums, most pointedly MSG’s Assault Attack and Mogg/Way’s Chocolate Box album, which I dare say is a bona fide UFO classic, just not given the band name UFO. Seriously, that record smokes, and I wanted to give it some vastly overdue attention.
I also touched down here and there on the career of Waysted. I often have to remind myself, when I grouse that Paul Chapman hasn’t done much since UFO, that he spearheaded what is really one of my favourite bands that I keep forgetting about, the great Waysted, and so that band gets mention as well. And by the way, also when I get down on Paul for his output, I have to remind myself that he made those two cool Lone Star albums back in the ‘70s (you can get my mini stories of those as eBooks from zunior.com). And yeah, just in general, I do keep an eye on what Michael is doing as UFO stumbled past 1983 and into the weeds.
Anyway, on with the action. To reiterate, my biggest joy with this book was the idea that I could proselytize at length for the Paul Chapman records and that I most definitely get to do. So, er, thanks!