Maybe you've heard of UFO, but chances are you haven't. Another heavy metal band coming out of the UK around the same time as Led Zeppelin, they never achieved the same level of fame but have been able to keep going strong for over 40 years, thanks to frontman Phil Mogg (vocals). They are most famous for the "Michael Schenker" era, when the guitarist from the Scorpions joined and they produced some great music together (despite personal differences). The band is also well known for "Strangers in the Night," which many consider one of the best classic rock live albums of all time. The band has had a variety of members through the years, with even Jason Bonham playing drums on a couple albums. I think Mogg's vocals help make the band unique, and they have a very strong, distinctive bluesy guitar sound which makes them stand apart. They've also put out a lot of live albums so I don't usually mention where you'll find the best live version of each song.

Nate's Epic UFO Playlist

  1. Lights Out (Lights Out 1977)
  2. This Kid's (Force It 1975)
  3. I'm A Loser (No Heavy Petting 1976)
  4. Love to Love (Lights Out 1977)
  5. Mother Mary (Force It 1975)
  6. Space Child (Phenomenon 1974)
  7. Blinded by a Lie (Making Contact 1983)
  8. Heaven's Gate (Misdemeanor 1985)
  9. Who Do You Love (UFO 1970)
  10. Rock Bottom (Phenomenon 1974)
  11. Doctor Doctor (Phenomenon 1974)
  12. Mystery Train (No Place to Run (1980)
  13. Electric Phase (Lights Out 1977)
  14. Long Gone (The Wild, the Willing, and the Innocent 1981)

UFO 1 (1970)


Their first album, it introduces us to Mogg's distinctive vocals and the blues sound. However, I feel like the sound is much less polished (makes sense), almost as if it was recorded in someone's garage. My favorite songs are "C'mon Everybody" and "Who Do You Love."

C'mon Everybody: This is a perfect example of the rough sound, with the drums sounding like they're being played on a second-hand drumset, but I think that's part of the low-key blues appeal. The guitar chords offer a strong base for the vocals. There's some great live versions of this song out there.

Who Do You Love: This is a cover of a Bo Diddley classic and I love it. They capture the laid-back beat perfectly with the distinctive guitar rhythms. This is one of those songs you could just listen to on repeat for hours. Unfortunately they never did a live version of this (that I've found).

UFO 2: Flying (1971)


A continuation of the rough blues sound from the first album, they don't make the jump to heavy metal sound until the next album. This album also has a bit more psychedelic rock, or as some might say, space rock (goes with the band name).

Silver Bird: I like the guitar riffs that repeat over the minimalist drum beat. There's a great extended blues guitar solo for pretty much the second half of the song.

Prince Kajuku: This song has a great guitar riff too. Enjoy it.

Phenomenon (1974)


Alright! Schenker has joined the group, taking the dials to 11! That blues sound is still there but there a new intensity to the band (whatever that means). My favorite songs are "Doctor Doctor," "Space Child," and "Rock Bottom."

Oh My: Great guitar riff with l'il guitar solos thrown in here and there.

Doctor Doctor: Oh what a nice intro, this is gonna be a chill song...not. I love how the song picks up speed and intensity. And of course it doesn't hurt that the song involves doctor-y things.

Space Child: This song has grown on me a lot. I like that it's super laid-back at the beginning, but leaps into one of my favorite guitar solos on any UFO album.

Rock Bottom: One of the most famous UFO songs, it has an extremely recognizable guitar riff, and a killer guitar solo section. The "Strangers in the Night" guitar solo is just unbelievable, taking it to the next level.

Built for Comfort: This is a Howlin' Wolf cover, kind of a chill way to wrap up the album. Lots of little guitar fills thrown in here and there.

Force It (1975)


Just continuing the Schenker era with a few more hits. My favorites are "Mother Mary" and "This Kid's."

Let it Roll: This song has a great offbeat triplet feel (just listen to the section with the cowbell). The guitar interlude has a nice use of guitar harmonies.

Out in the Street: I think the use of piano is a little new. I like how the drum beat subdivides, and of course I'm always a big fan of half-time.

Mother Mary: This is a great hard rock song, with the heavy guitar and straight beat. My favorite part is right after each verse, with the strong guitar and offbeat accents. The guitar solo is pretty awesome. Great live version on "Strangers in the Night."

This Kid's: One of my favorite UFO songs. I love the use of 6/8 time, but it's also subdivided so you can follow the beat but you're not really sure when the accents are, exactly. The song then cuts back on the speed for the guitar solo, which has a cocky sound being backed up by the piano part.

No Heavy Petting (1976)


This is just album 3/5 in the Schenker era and that's about it. My favorite songs are "Natural Thing" and "I'm A Loser."

Natural Thing: The drum fills are my favorite parts of the song, but the combo piano/guitar interludes are pretty killer too.

I'm A Loser: Although less of a hit, this is one of my favorite songs from "Strangers in the Night." I like how it starts with some acoustic guitar, then brings in piano backup. It also has one of my favorite guitar parts. I think this song carries a little more emotion than some of the other UFO songs, making it similar to Space Child.

Highway Lady: I like the opening guitar riff, which sets the stage for the rest of the song.

On With the Action: A slower, kinda chill song. I think the best part is the bassline.

Lights Out (1977)


This is the best UFO album, hands down. It has some of their biggest hits but almost every song is great in its own right. My favorite songs are "Try Me," "Lights Out," "Electric Phase," and "Love to Love."

Too Hot to Handle: This song is pretty chill and has a simple beat, but the guitar solo is cool.

Try Me: This song is ultra chill, almost haunting in its minimalistic quality. It gains a little energy towards the ends with a guitar solo, but only just a little in anticipation for what comes next.

Lights Out: Probably the most famous UFO song. It's full of energy, with everything powering forward to deliver its intense sound. The rhythm guitar lays down a great beat during the choruses while the drums just keep chugging. Telling you about the guitar solo won't do it justice, so you'll just have to listen. On "Strangers in the Night," you can feel the crowd's energy when Mogg sings "Lights out in CHICAGOOOOOO."

Getting Ready: This opening reminds me of the one for "Highway Lady," but I like this one better. I think this song also has a little upbeat quality, unusual for a UFO song. The guitar solo is relatively chill as well.

Electric Phase: I love the way the guitar whines in, almost like a car zooming past. The guitar is pretty much awesome throughout the song (especially during the solo) and it does offer the chance for the drums to do some sick fills.

Love to Love: I don't know where to start with this song. Its sound and structure are hard to compare to anything else, UFO or otherwise. The closest I can think of is "No Quarter" by Led Zeppelin. There's heavy use of keyboards, loads of offbeat accents. The guitar solo seems pretty chill, but that's just because it's saving all its energy for the end of the song, where all bets are off.

Obsession (1978)


Ah, the last album of the Schenker era. Enjoy it while you can. My favorite song is "Hot n' Ready."

Only You Can Rock Me: I'm not a huge fan of the song but I really like the guitar solo.

Pack It Up (And Go): I like the bassline and how it's reflected by the bass drum as well.

Hot N' Ready: The lead guitar really screams on this song while the rhythm guitar and bass lay down a great groove. I also like how the accents during the chorus are sharp, giving the song a little bit of a jerky quality. Great guitar solo, btw. Towards the end, the drums lay down a beat on the toms.

Cherry: I like how the song is pretty quiet, but accents pop out of nowhere, before the song finally takes off during the chorus. Another great part are the vocal harmonies when they sing "weeeeeee." You'll know when you hear it.

Strangers in the Night (1979)



No Place to Run (1980)


UFO had some success in the 80's after Schenker left the group, with a couple hits on each of the albums. I don't have much to say about each one individually, but they're all pretty good. My favorite songs on this album are "Mystery Train" and "No Place to Run."

Lettin' Go: Reminiscent of "Only You Can Rock Me," it has that simplistic drum beat going.

Mystery Train: This is a cover of the song by Junior Parker. I think this song has some of the best blues guitar solos of any of the albums, as the song is just one big jam session.

No Place to Run: There's something dissonant about this song, which is why I like it so much. The guitar lays down a great base for the vocals and lead guitar to spring out of. I also like the line "hearts beating like a drum" for some reason.

The Wild, the Willing, and the Innocent (1981)


Another album. Cool. My favorite songs are "Long Gone" and "The Wild, the Willing, and the Innocent."

Long Gone: I like the guitar at the beginning of the song. The song has a great guitar solo and has a great bass riff to back it up. The end has an orchestral-ish sound before fading out.

The Wild, the Willing, and the Innocent: This song also has a great opening. I think the guitar during the chorus is one of the best parts, along with the backup vocals.

Mechanix (1982)


Will it never end? My favorite songs are "We Belong to the Night" and "Let it Rain."

We Belong to the Night: Just a nice fast-paced UFO song with a great guitar solo.

Let it Rain: I think this song is another of the few UFO songs with a more upbeat sound. I like the way the lead guitar and bassline trade punches during parts of the song. I also like how the opening riff pops up throughout the song in different amounts.

Making Contact (1983)


I guess it won't end... My favorite song is "Blinded by a Lie." Duh.

Blinded by a Lie: I love the opening guitar riff, it's the definition of "rockin'." The chorus has some good vocal harmonies, and it wouldn't be a good UFO song without a great guitar solo.

Misdemeanor (1985)


We're sooooooo close! My favorite song is "Heaven's Gate."

Heaven's Gate: You can definitely hear the 80's synthesizer influences in this song, but Mogg's vocals tell you it's still the same old UFO. I love the syncopated accents.

Ain't Misbehavin' (1988), High Stakes and Dangerous Men (1992), Walk on Water (1995), Covenant (2000), Sharks (2002), You Are Here (2004), The Monkey Puzzle (2006), The Visitor (2009)


UFO has kept putting out albums every couple of years but none of them really compare to their earlier works. I haven't listened much to them, but there is one song that stands out to me - "Cowboy Joe."

Cowboy Joe (Covenant): When listening through all the albums, this song's distinctive guitar riff caught my ear and I couldn't get enough. I love the way the guitar kills the solo, bringing the song back together while getting a little crazy.

Live on Earth (2003), Showtime (2005), The Official Bootleg Box Set (2009)