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UFO – Early Flight (Bondage Music BON260)

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Early Flight (Bondage Music BON260)  

Jugendhaus, Berlin, Germany November 23, 1973  

(56:54) Leaving Here, Move Over, Sweet Little Thing, Crystal Light, Rock Bottom, Prince Kajuku, Boogie For George, C’mon Everybody, Back In The USA  

Michael Schenker joined UFO in June 1973 and provided the much needed catalyst for the fledgling group, his prowess on guitar quick elevated their status as a force to be reckoned with. The recording used for this release from the prolific Bondage label is a very good audience source well balanced and all instruments can be heard, a small amount of hiss is present but does not interfere and the audience around the taper is quit for the most part although you can here some clapping and the occasional holler now and then. The taper also hits the pause button between songs but does not cut any of the songs.

The recording starts with Leaving Here, a typical sounding song for the era, nonsense lyrics but with a good riff and a great guitar solo. It is easy to see even at this early stage how much the band had evolved since Schenker joined the group. The Janis Joplin song Move Over is next, the song fits well in the live repertoire and it is during this song Phil Mogg complains through the lyrics to fix the PA. Again Scheneker plays a couple of great solos, his playing is great through out this show. Sweet Little Thing is a rare song recorded during the Phenomenon sessions and released as a German only B-side to the single Give Her The Gun and recently (2007) released Chrysalis re master series of UFO albums.

An embryonic version of Crystal Light is next, the music is pretty much the same but the lyrics are still evolving and contains Mogg improving the line “If you don’t fix that fucking PA, turn my hands to the wind” again demanding the PA to be fixed although on the recording you here no issues. I have always liked this song and its a shame they did not play it live more. A blistering version of Rock Bottom follows, again with different lyrics but the main structure of the song the same as the studio version although Scheneker starts his solo almost hesitantly before he gets into the melodic notes we are most familiar with.

The remainder of the set is taken with “classic” songs starting with Prince Kajuku played at a slightly faster tempo than earlier versions. A ten minute take on Boogie For George from the first UFO album includes a chance for audience participation as the crowd claps along to Mogg’s lyrics about laying a woman down and wanting to do a little boogying of his own. The sound steps down a notch for the remainder of the recording starting with the band blasting through Eddie Chocran’s C’Mon Everybody, Scheneker’s fingers are flying during his solo and the bands plays at almost a martial tempo.

The recording finishes with the rarely played Back In The Usa that includes brief guitar and drum solos at the end of the song and we here Phil Mogg thanking the audience as the recording fades. All in all a fascinating listening experience for fans of UFO to be able to here the beginning of the classic era of the band that would culminate five years down the road when Scheneker made his exit. The packaging is typical Bondage, full color inserts in a  jewel case with a band picture on the front and Michael Schenker on the back with the inner sleeve proudly proclaiming a “Unreleased Live Recording 1973 With Michael Schenker”. Good stuff indeed.

CMR Music Store

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