UFO was Phil Mogg's band. In my HEADSTONE liner notes I wrote that UFO wouldn't exist without Phil Mogg. It's true that Michael Schenker bathed in the spotlight while in UFO, but why explain UFO history from Michael Schenker's standpoint when he was noth ing but one guitarist. Phil mogg was seated in UFO's pilot seat - the other members were only the crew -- and therefore the crash was his responsibility.
While UFO was breaking up, everybody from the members to the mass-comm (media) criticized Phil mogg for drinking too much, or being paranoid from doing too much drugs. However, Phil did not give any excuse or apology for himself and put up with the criti cism, then he made himself disappear.
I don't remember when it was...Tommy (note on pronunciation) said phil told him to "say hi to Masa," so I knew Phil was in Califor nia. It was probably around spring of 1984. At that time Tommy McClendon was active as the new UFO guitarist. He was living with both is parents in Stockton, a 2-hour drive from San Francisco, but he would always come to my hotel to visit me. I didn't' now whether to believe the incredible story coming from Tommy again and again about UFO returning.
Phil was in LA looking for UFO project members (at that time he hadn't decided to call it UFO). He was using the same means Ozzy used to find Randy Rhoads, Brad Gillis and Jake E. Lee. In those days California was a big market for talented guitarists.
In those days Tommy's own band Boy Wonder had broken up and he'd just completed a new demo tape. Boy Wonder was formed in '81 with Brent Hacknett (?) on drums, Beaver Chris (?) on bass and Tommy, and made a demo tape with "the Song Plays On" and 7 other tunes, but in the end they couldn't get a record deal. After that, using only a rhythm machine Tommy made a new demo tape of a guitar battle solo, and that tape exposed his wonderful tech nique. San Francisco underground boss Mike Varney introduced Tommy through Guitar Player magazine and quickly Tommy was in the spotlight. He was becoming to San Francisco what Yngwie was becoming to LA. This demo tape was really Tommy's big chance to join UFO.
Phil obtained two demo tapes from Mike Varney. One was Yngwie's and the other Tommy's. But by then Yngwie had decided to join Alcatrazz, so Phil went to San Francisco to conduct a meeting with Tommy. At first, Tommy and Phil started UFO.
Phil returned to Birmingham, Tommy remained in Stockton. They only stayed in contact by phone, so Tommy was becoming very uneasy. For Tommy, it was his big chance at last. But Tommy didn't know if he was in UFO, he only thought it was a probabili ty. Anyway, phil was in Birmingham and Tommy didn't know what he was thinking. He didn't know what to do next, so he could only begin to compose tunes to have ready for the future.
Next time I was in San Francisco, Tommy was no longer in Stockton. After Phil's phone call he hurried off to Birmingham. Tommy phoned me to tell of the new members: phil Mogg, vocals, Atomik Tommy M, guitar, Paul Raymond, keyboard and guitar, Paul Gray, bass, and Robbie France, drums. Paul Gray had sat in Billy Shee han's (don't call he shee-han) place in the last UFO, and was a former Damned member; Robbie France participated in late-era Diamond Head.
However, this project came to a complete dead end. According to Tommy's detailed story, Phil's lawyer encountered trouble with Chrysalis' past copyrights and royalties. If they made a contract with another record company, they could start with a clean slate. Already 1-1/2 years had passed since Phil and Tommy met. Life and lodging in in Birmingham was causing Tommy anxiety. A ray of hope in this state of things was that first of all, Phil had spoken of doing a tour. The friendship of the staff helped this feeling. They called themselves UFO and in December 1984 accomplished an all-UK tour.
This UFO's concerts' reviews were only friendly, and Tommy's new and original guitar playing especially overwhelmed the British press, as I expected. That time, UFO decided to return to their old nest Chrysalis> With new drummer Jim Simpson (formerly of Magnum) they set about making recording preparations. Around June this year I was in LA and heard the beginnings of UFO's demo tape...Name of Love, Blue...and it was a feeling I couldn't forget. My heart beat quickly in my chest, I was in shock. UFO had thrown out the compromises to play "adult hard rock."
UFO appointed veteran producer Nick Tauber, who'd had experience with Thin Lizzy and more recently Marillion and Girlschool [[NOT TO MENTION STAMPEDE!]]. The basic tracks were completed in Eng land and the mixdown was conducted in Holland.
The preview of the album was the "This Time" single ... the 12 inch had the unpublished B-side "The Chase." Also they start an 33 all-UK tour Nov. 12 in Hanley.
This album consists of several important elements. As in the past it's hard rock, but while listening to the demo tape the image of "adult" came to mind, composing a unique but opposite image. Their sound will be interpreted as "Americanized" yet it's very British. Newborn UFO is clearing a new field open. [I'm not sure about this part: "Strange thing is that while Chrysalis was deciding, everyday, compositions were arranged reflecting deci sions, the result reflected this standard."] Fans of the past UFO won't know what to expect --- UFO's reunited as "adult" rock. Clearly, it is not ordinary rock. Good sound it is.
This album means the appearance of a new era of guitar hero and is a masterpiece for rock history. [I don't understand this part about the noisy outfield of voices crying over new guitar heroes, what's good to copy, what isn't, etc....then there's something about Tommy's guitar method building a wall of melody and uses patterns...] Actually, he wasn't raised in the generation of listening to only heavy metal, and certainly 29 years old is too late to make a debut. However, as he was raised in the Bay Area, he's absorbed the influences of all sorts of rock. His playing boasts of all these as well as new and original elements.
[Another part I'm not certain about, but it mentions Yngwie and Schenker]...Paul Raymond's keyboards outstanding...Tommy's solo is compact and condenses all his skills into one display. Espe cially after the middle part of the Heaven's Gate solo, I was speechless. Tommy's mother was Japanese and his father American. Jake E. Lee has the same circumstances, except in Tommy's case, he lived in Japan as a child, which must be where his soaring melodies were born. [The rest of this paragraph lost me!]
At any rate, UFO is new. It's a breath of fresh air into the heart being monopolized by big heavy metal rock bands. It's an excellent feeling. With this album UFO has returned with very new hard rock.
Tommy's a good guy. The reborn UFO really is great. Tommy and Phil are splendid.
Copyright 11/18/85 Masa Itoh.