UFO
Sharks

Track Listing
1. Outlaw Man
2. Quicksilver Rider
3. Serenity
4. Dead Man Walking
5. Shadow Dancer
6. Someone's Gotta Have to Pay
7. Sea of Faith
8. Fighting Man
9. Perfect View
10. Crossing Over
11. Hawaii

SPV 2002

ufosharks.jpg (17285 bytes)

 

More Releases by UFO:
Lights Out (1977)
Walk On Water (1995)
Covenant (2000)
Related Releases (members):
Mogg/Way - Chocolate Box (2000)
MSG - Michael Schenker Group (1981)
MSG - Perfect Timing (1987)

 

After all the well publicized bitching and backstabbing going on in the band, it falling apart one day and the members back together again the next, it comes as no surprise that "Sharks" is pretty much dead in the water. Cheesy cover art, poorly written songs, a sub par production, and lackluster attitude sink it before they even get started. The loose, raw feel of the disc gives it a nearly live atmosphere which is not exactly what the consumer is looking for these days. It sounds like crap on higher end equipment and cringe worthy on even your run of the mill discman and Sony boom box. With the talent inside the box, one would hope for better than this, despite it all. Especially Phil Mogg and Pete Way, who together have released some decent material under the Mogg/Way moniker. "Chocolate Box" was especially memorable and gave a modern warmth to the UFO style. Michael Schenker's involvement is dubious however. He is considered a part of the "Original Lineup" and although that doesn't ring 100% true, he was responsible for the majority of their popularity throughout the 70s. All incarnations of MSG were brilliant through the 80s but these last few years he has squeaked out over indulgent acoustic solos and piss poor resurrections of MSG that leaves the newly dug corpse out in the rain and rotting. Does he even care anymore? One wonders, because in his prime he was a brilliant guitarist and sharp writer, and in my opinion is now the weak link of UFO. Quite a turn around from days of electric brilliance and his creations of musical bliss. Now he's latched onto this unidentified flying object and is determined to go dragging the ship down with him. The other members of the band seem eager to hop on right with him. Its certainly not the first time the band has attempted to tarnish the name, for their Schenker and Mogg free 80s efforts were good pop records at best, but this is just ridiculous.

But if the song writing didn't stink so badly, perhaps this would not even be an issue. The disc's only two saving graces are "Serenity" with its bombastic melancholy ballad-ess and the airy and bluesy "Dead Man Walking". These are reminiscent of the decent "Covenant" cd but are still a few worlds away from approaching the real cause for a reunion celebration, the critically acclaimed "Walk On Water". "Sea of Faith" has some strong moments as well. Some of these tracks will probably come across much better in a live setting with some slight re-arrangements such as "Someone's Gonna Have to Pay", a loose Mogg/Way penned laid-back bluesy track and "Shadow Dancer" with its aggressive guitar work. The rest of the disc is a snooze-a-thon, sporting one plodding song after another. The bland "Outlaw Man" is a bit on the silly side, and even Mogg's unmistakable vocal stylings can't save it, despite its clever references. "Quicksilver Rider" slums around in the doldrums of tedium and never finds its legs to ride out into the sunset. It comes across very flat, stale and tasteless. "Fighting Man" borders on the annoying with its repetitive lyrics and sounds like a smoky bar song cranked out by a local band. Not a good vibe for a group of musicians that has been playing together for as long as these guys have. "Perfect View" and "Crossing Over" are lazy plod fests with the latter sporting a half way spiffy chorus that could have rounded up into something decent, but alas did not. "Hawaii" is well, "Hawaii". A few short seconds and the song is over, therefore it doesn't really qualify in the end as a full-fledged track. Leaving us with an offering that will be broken out of the case only occasionally when unobtrusive background music is called for. As a stand alone product promising hours upon hours of listening excitement, it is quite the let down indeed. We know these guys are capable of better, which makes it all the more painful to withstand.

 

When all is said and done, "Sharks" leaves one with a feeling of indifference. There are no hooks that burrow into the brain like classic UFO material and as good as "Serenity" and "Dead Man Walking" are, they have problems withstanding the beating of multiple listens and their brief magic starts to wane by the fifth go-round. UFO enthusiasts probably pre-ordered the disc, but the casual music fan wandering through would do better to discover their vibrant past classics before dredging out into the newer "Shark" infested waters where the band sounds lifeless and disillusioned. Instead check out their string of 70s blockbusters starting with "Phenomenon" and stringing through the rest of the decade with the same high quality tunes and amazing performances on "No Heavy Petting", "Obsession", "Force It", and the already much mentioned "Lights Out". These all stand up nicely today and are must have's for anyone's collection. Their 1995 reunion cd, "Walk On Water" is another must have. Allotted a huge budget, the disc is a crisp sounding UFO masterpiece. But for those that have it all however, there is the album in question, but with so many other releases out this year that should be higher priority, "Sharks" just doesn't have what it takes to make the cut.

Ratings and Wrap Up:
5.2
Songs - 5.0, Performance - 6.0, Production - 5.5, Lyrics - 5.0

Hot Spots: "Serenity", "Dead Man Walking"
Bottom Line: Close to the worst thing UFO has ever put out.


Review by Alanna Evans -



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