Everybody is talking about how difficult is for a band that is on the road or in music industry, for many years to create a “perfect 10” album or “6 out of 6” for us here in Metal Invader. Well UFO had no problem to create brilliant works the one after the other as if they had 18 or 20 years to prepare it as being totally indifferent to Dire Straits and their famous quote…
UFO are an English rock band that was formed in London in 1968. Having a stunning career spanning over 54 years, UFO have released 22 studio albums, 14 live recordings, 16 compilation albums and one album of cover songs, UFO were one of the pioneer bands that became the bridge that united “the rock tree” as they became a transitional group between early hard rock and heavy metal and the new wave of British Heavy Metal.
Most rockers out there know the magnificent “Doctor, Doctor” or “Rock Bottom” that are in every playlist and every cd collection of Rock Anthologies or know them for featuring former Scorpions guitarist and MSG founder Michael Schenker, who was a member of UFO from 1973 to 1978 and again, occasionally, between 1993 and 2003, when Moore replaced him. Some more art lovers may know them out of their famous artwork covers that the legendary Hipgnosis designed in the 70’s and 80’s (also for Black Sabbath, Led Zeppelin, Pink Floyd, T. Rex, Bad Company, AC/DC, Scorpions, Paul McCartney & Wings, Genesis, Peter Gabriel, Electric Light Orchestra, Rainbow, Styx and more).
Well UFO is a band that we all should know in depth and not just superficially…and albums like The Wild, The Willing And The Innocent is one of the reasons for. And just to make the connection with the prologue The Wild, The Willing And The Innocent is a perfect ten, a 6 out 6 album, for sure!!!
We are in the late 70’s and tensions began to grow between Mogg and Schenker, possibly from Schenker often leaving before or during shows. Soon after UFO’s show in Palo Alto, California, on 29 October 1978, Schenker left the band. He made a brief return to the Scorpions before going on to form his own Michael Schenker Group.
After Schenker’s exit, UFO rehired Paul “Tonka” Chapman (R.I.P.) on guitar, who brought over unused track ideas from Lone Star’s drummer Dixie Lee. Shortly afterward they released their next LP, No Place to Run, in January 1980. Produced by former Beatles producer George Martin, No Place To Run failed to match up to the success of its predecessors. Not that it was a bad album or it had no success at all, but the band wanted more, so was their label…As a result Paul Raymond left the band at the end of the No Place To Run tour, and was replaced by John Sloman from Uriah Heep on keyboards for a couple of months and then by former Wild Horses guitarist and keyboardist Neil Carter, who helped fill the void in the songwriting left by Schenker’s departure. Carter debuted with UFO on stage at the three-day Reading Festival on 23 August 1980, when the band played as the Saturday night headline act. At the beginning of the following year, UFO released The Wild, the Willing and the Innocent, that achieved mild success in the UK, reaching the UK Top 20 While the song “Lonely Heart” was a minor UK hit single. This is the ninth studio album by the British band and the first to be entirely self-produced by them. The original cover was as usual designed by the art studio Hipgnosis. And also as usual there were some issues about it and the album have been released with different cover in Canada and a different back cover as well. For the same censhorship reasons the closing track “Profession of Violence” was altered to simply “Profession Of” on the United States and Canada.
It is the most America-styled/ inspired album of the band, as the even its title may betrays. 1973’s “The Wild, the Innocent & the E Street Shuffle” by Bruce Springsteen was the motivation for the title but musically you can hear some references and similarities with1980’s Legendary “The River” as singer Phil Mogg was a big fan at the time and listening to Bruce Springsteen, but the album is much much more than just a beckon towards the Boss.
Mogg in this album has offered some of his finest lyrics and vocal performances. Excellent musicianship, unparalleled song-writing, catchy lyrics: “And the wild, the willing and the innocent/Are down, down in the jungle tonight/As the jackal tracks every step you make/Watching, waiting for the one chance to bite” on “The Wild, the Willing and the Innocent” and a brave dose of poetry in this tale of raw street life: “Skulking in the mean streets whispering in the halls/Red light bandits on the corner give no quarter calls…and …I saw the stars come out tonight so lonely and immune/Summer rain kissed the streets that bleed like open wounds (“old balloons”)” on “Long Gone”, a forgotten gem from all those you mention UFO and their big hits, but forget how special and important this song is.
But aren’t gems and by many forgotten jewels of Hard Rock/Heavy Metal songs like the rocker opener “Chains Chains” with its contagious riff and exciting chorus, the s/t with its great guitars and the marvelous bridges were Mogg is just causing great wonder with his voice that it sounds like he is doing it effortless yet so extraordinary, the mid-tempo and sentimental like a soundtrack of a film noir “It’s Killing Me” or “Lonely Heart” with the amazing piano and saxophone solo from Neil Carter, the radio friendly and why not a slight more pop “Couldn’t Get It Right” and “Profession Of Violence” that’s has this awesome Chapman guitar solo that close emphatically this majestic album? Small trivia for “Profession Of Violence”: The title and lyric were inspired by the 1972 book “The Profession Of Violence: The Rise And Fall Of The Kray Twins”, written by John Pearson and originally published in 1972 that narrates the story of Ronald “Ronnie” Kray (24 October 1933 – 17 March 1995) and Reginald “Reggie” Kray (24 October 1933 – 1 October 2000), identical twin brothers, were the foremost perpetrators of organized crime in the East End of London, England, U.K., from the late 1950s to 1967. With their gang, known as the Firm, the Krays were involved in murder, armed robbery, arson, protection rackets and assaults. The Krays were arrested on 8 May 1968 and convicted in 1969.
The Wild, the Willing and the Innocent can be easily placed next to Phenomenon, Force It, No Heavy Petting or Lights Out, UFO’s finest moments, as it is also an impressive album, a marvel collection of 8 amazing, heavy and melodic songs that proved to be very influential in the other side of the Atlantic as the 80’s have been confirmed…
“Chains Chains” (Pete Way, Phil Mogg)
“Long Gone” (Paul Chapman, Mogg)
“The Wild, the Willing and the Innocent” (Chapman, Mogg)
“It’s Killing Me” (Way, Mogg)
“Makin’ Moves” (Chapman, Mogg)
“Lonely Heart” (Chapman, Way, Mogg)
“Couldn’t Get It Right” (Chapman, Way, Mogg)
“Profession of Violence” (Chapman, Mogg)
(Listed as "Profession Of" on original US and Canadian releases)