Walk on Water (CMC)
by Scott Hefflon
For no especially good reason, I’ve never really listened to UFO. While I have a couple of their albums, as well as a couple of Michael Schenker albums (yes, Scorpions fans – those of you who’re left – that’s Rudy’s brother), I have a couple Keel albums too, so that means absolutely nothing, OK? Basically, this US version of the album of the same name that was released on Zero Records in ’95 is now finally available through CMC in ’98, even though everyone is acting like it just happened yesterday. Walk on Water represents the reunion of the “original” (or, at least, the most famous) line-up of a band that sucked in the early ’70s as they were trying to find themselves, found success from the mid-to-late ’70s as one of the “hard rock” bands filled with guitar chops and melody, without becoming soulless pop. Then Schenker left and the band released a lot of albums between ’80 and the mid-’90s, meeting with various levels of success. But now the original line-up is back together. And while this has elements of “classic” rock, and, for all practical purposes shoulda been released in the mid-’80s, it’s a damn good album. Walk on Water has more than a faint whiff of good ol’ rock, but its celebration, lack of pretension, and overall jubilant attitude easily compensate.
Put it this way, while everyone’s favorites differ, imagine the warmth of your favorite ’80s singer, before the rockstar thing went to his head. Imagine your favorite axe-grinder before flash became more important than good rhythms and memorable riffs. UFO has all the melodies, the tasty guitar fills, and harmonied choruses that don’t sound phony that you could ask of a good rock record. From bluesy rock, to shuffle/boogie, to pop rock (not in the negative sense), Walk on Water reminds you of what rock music used to be like. A bonus for old fans are the new versions of classic UFO tunes “Doctor, Doctor” and “Lights Out.” And while I can’t compare them to the original versions, man, they sound gorgeous.
(5226 Greens Dairy Rd Raleigh, NC 27616)