UFO - Lights Out: Album Of The Week Club Review

With just eight songs and slightly over half an hour of music, is UFO's sixth studio album the one where they got it just right?

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UFO - Lights Out

Too Hot to Handle
Just Another Suicide
Try Me
Lights Out
Gettin' Ready
Alone Again Or
Electric Phase
Love to Love

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A huge influence on the likes of Guns N’ Roses, Def Leppard and Iron Maiden, UFO rode high in the late 70s and early 80s on the back of albums such as the classic live collection Strangers In The Night, Obsession, and the great Lights Out. It was the band's sixth album, featuring just eight tracks, and at just over half an hour long it feels almost ridiculously short by the standards of today. 

By the time of the album's release, guitarist Michael Schenker was perhaps the most renowned axeman in Europe, but he wasn't reliable. Suffering from the pressures of touring, he went AWOL on the eve of the American tour to support the album, only resurfacing the following year for the follow-up, Obsession.

If you thought UFO were mere meat and potatoes rockers whose concerns didn't dwell on much beyond the next beer or babe, you'd be wrong. "I do personally think a lot about politics and I have written political lyrics," singer Phil Mogg told Sounds in 1977. "I wrote Lights Out as an anti-authoritarian song but [keyboard player] Paul Raymond thought it was about the miner's strike!"

Every week, Album of the Week Club listens to and discusses the album in question, votes on how good it is, and publishes our findings, with the aim of giving people reliable reviews and the wider rock community the chance to contribute. 

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Other albums released in October 1977

  • The Runaways - Waitin' for the Night
  • Johnny Thunders & The Heartbreakers - L.A.M.F.
  • Electric Light Orchestra - Out of the Blue
  • The Charlie Daniels Band - Midnight Wind 
  • Kansas - Point of Know Return
  • Kiss - Alive II
  • "Heroes" - David Bowie 
  • Lynyrd Skynyrd - Street Survivors
  • Meat Loaf - Bat Out of Hell
  • Genesis - Seconds Out
  • Sex Pistols - Never Mind the Bollocks, Here's the Sex Pistols
  • Neil Young - Decade
  • Queen - News of the World
  • Sweet - The Golden Greats  
  • Barclay James Harvest - Gone to Earth
  • Sparks - Introducing Sparks
  • Levon Helm - Levon Helm & the RCO All-Stars
  • Santana - Moonflower
  • Sammy Hagar - Musical Chairs
  • Nils Lofgren Live - Night After Night
  • Utopia - Oops! Wrong Planet
  • Dead Boys - Young Loud and Snotty

They said...

"Despite a few generic moments, Lights Out is probably the best studio document of what elevated UFO above the '70s hard rock fray. Within a Euro-blues framework, the classic lineup that lasted from Phenomenon through Strangers in the Night incorporated challenging dynamics, epic balladry, and a more than occasional sensitivity. On Lights Out, all three of these traits come together in powerful fashion, most notably on the space rocker-cum-ballad Love to Love, where a ridiculously heavy intro gives way to flourishing poetics" (AllMusic)

"On a record full of strengths that plays well to its genre, the only points of weakness can be found on Try Me, which is definitely not a manly power ballad and thus is grossly out of place, and Alone Again Or, which would be better suited on an early Journey album. Those tracks are the reason Lights Out is not quite up to par as Jailbreak, yet its strongest moments solidify it as an essential Hard Rock staple. (Sputnik Music)

You said...

Richard Cardenas: Great record and my favorite listed on this site. Great balance of rock and soft melodies that transcends time. My kids have told me that this music does not sound dated and could easily fit in today’s rock scene. While it’s easy to revel in the guitar work, I think Phil Mogg’s voice is especially beautiful here.

Jim Collins: Such a disappointment after the three classics produced by Leo Lyons. UFO didn't need strings and glossy production, they needed to be unleashed in the studio. That's where Lyons excelled, getting the best out of them.

Maxwell Martello: A truly magnificent record. If opener Too Hot Handle might give the impression that this record is gonna be a stripped-down-balls-to-the-wall-amps-to-eleven version of the Stones, the amazingly heavy and futuristic arrangement of the title track wipes away with fury such misconception.

Love To Love also is a miracle of a song. The idea behind one of its many riffs will inspire a part of Diamond Head’s Sucking My Love, which, in turn, will be the main inspiration behind the riff that backs Ride the Lightning’s solo and opens Megadeth’s take on The Mechanix. Yes, that is why Mustaine is credited as a writer on Ride the Lightning.

This is not my favourite UFO record, that would be No Heavy Petting, but it’s a hell of a fine record nonetheless.

All band members are on fire and there’s a lot of personality in the songs.

Hard rock at its finest. Super solid. Killer.

Ron Ostrander: This album changed everything. One of the most brilliant albums ever made. It really put ufo in the big time. Probably my favorite band of all time. They can rock with the best of them but what sets them apart from the rest is the slow songs. Try me is one of the greatest songs of all time.

Russ Furmston: I’ve always loved this album. They were really ahead of their time. Truly the 80s band from the 70s.

Ben L. Connor: I love this album. It’s the best UFO album, and probably the last great old school hard rock album of the 70s before Van Halen and NWOBHN changed the game. 

That said, anyone who thinks this album demonstrates more skill, invention and better songwriting than OK Computer are clearly just stuck in their own little world.

Jim Linning: For all those who criticised the likes of me giving OK Computer 1/10 because we are, let's paraphrase here, "old farts", this one should be right up my street yes? Well no actually. I've never liked UFO and although I listened to this twice yesterday I still find it turgid and stereotypical. Now read that carefully. I'm not saying it IS turgid and stereotypical just that I find it so. It's only an opinion. If you love it, as many do, fine. It's just not for me.

Joe Cogan: Generic mid-70s hard rock from a generic mid-70s hard rock band. Not much more to be said, really.

Bryan Aguilar: Fantastic album. Seamlessly combines melody with heavy.

Cristian Draper: One of the best UFO's albums in the best moment of Michael Schenker (hidden in the photograph of the album, did you find him?). UFO was a great rock band, but for me is better live (nothing like Strangers in the Night's versions)

Bill Griffin: This is the album (and song, Love To Love) that turned me onto UFO (and, because they were the opening act, Rush). I don't know that I would consider it a lost gem; to me, it is the ultimate UFO studio effort.

Raj Tiwari: This is my second favorite and UFO had classic hard rockers but I love them for their rock ballads...Love to love and Try me... Phil's voice and Schenker's guitars just great...

David Jones: UFO are a strange band, often hailed as releasing the best live album ever, yet never becoming the huge arena band their talent warranted. This album proves that less is more and you can hear how influential this would be on bands like Def Leppard and Diamond Head. A fine example of melodic hard rock and a real benchmark for the band.

Malcolm Bird: Love this album lifted the band to a new level at the time after the previous three albums, stands up well today.

Colin MacKenzie Haggerty: It was my introduction to the Band and put them on a pedestal similar to Thin Lizzy - varied and interesting tracks - one album I still listen to all the way through.

Dustin Haralson: Lights Out is the first UFO song I ever heard. This album is definitely my favorite. It was nice streaming the remastered version with the live tracks. They sound even better live.

Robert Dunn: UFO kind of snuck up on me, I had heard of them but it took a friend of mine playing their stuff to get me to listen to them and I am glad he did. No nonsense, straightforward melodic rock with Schenker showing why he was up there with Blackmore in all the 'Best Guitarist' polls in the late 70s and early 80s. I do understand the comment about them not being in the top tier of 70s rock bands, but if the second tier includes bands like Dr Feelgood, Uriah Heep, Scorpions etc. then UFO are in good company.

Mike Bruce: Guys and gals, I've got to come out of the closet here with an embarrassing confession. Right up until Strangers In The Night I totally dismissed UFO as being a bit pants. Despite mates raving about them I just didn't get them at all. Listening to this and especially Obsession now, I can't think what possessed me. 

Okay the production gets a bit of stick, but the songs are just sublime. For me, four out of eight songs are stone cold classics, another two are "deep cut" gems and the last two are more than adequate not even approaching "filler" status. Even after all these years Lights Out still has me spontaneously reaching for the tennis racquet and risking all in a bout of live, without a safety net headbanging. Now that's a comfort in a world of uncertainty.

John Davidson: A very good album of melodic hard rock that (as others have said) would have faired better if it had been released in the 1980s - where an AOR audience would have lapped up the ballads and mid-paced rockers.

For all that it is under 40 minutes long it mixes mid tempo boogie and ballads that would have been hits by more mainstreeam artists and full on heavy rock.. all while still sounding like a the same band. 

This album showcases their talent and versatility as musicians and while it benefits from a polished production and orchestration it sadly landed at the same time as punk took off- rendering the lads in UFO as dinosaurs just when they hit their creative peak.

The best tracks are lifted out of this album and presented to better effect (IMO) on the masterful live album Strangers in the Night, but the cover of Alone Again Or and the ballad Try Me are both tremendous.

The rest of the album is good but not great (though I still think Just Another Suicide would have been a foot stomping hit by Elton John or Mott the Hoople)

Tom Dee: Just listened to the album on Spotify. Like the softer songs and especially the cover of Alone Again Or and Try Me. I don't know what it is with UFO as I can take or leave their music much as the same with Thunder. Good music and musicians but they have never rocked my boat and don't have that cutting edge. They are very sparse in my music collection.

Clay Halford: I can't say I'd heard much of UFO before besides the odd song here and there so I was looking forward to this. I like it - it's got that great mix of heavy and sweet that works so well. Try Me is stunning and Too Hot to Handle is classically fun rock.

Carl Black: My knowledge of UFO is limited to doctor doctor blaring out before maiden hit the stage and seeing the distinct logo on older rockers cut off denim. And that is the point, always a patch, very rarely a back patch. Worth a mention, never a headliner, good fun to listen to. Songs on this album I found much of a muchness, however, lights out the song, is a banger. Enjoyed listening, not really craving more. But would not object if someone but it on at party. 

Ben Timpson: I'm afraid I'm going to be a bit of a party pooper here but I really don't get it. I mean, yes there are some fantastic lead guitar parts and solos, as expected, and the couple if tracks that feature strings are beautifully arranged but it's a bit, flat. There was so much hard rock at that time and so many bands were doing it better. It's just a bit pedestrian and doesn't sound hungry at all.

Iain Macaulay: Other than hearing Doctor Doctor on the youth club juke box back in the day UFO really passed me by. I knew who the component parts of the band were, and what the album covers looked like , through reading Kerrang! and Sounds articles, but not the sound. So I was quite happy to have a listen to a full album. 

However, listening to it now i feel a bit disappointed and underwhelmed. It strikes me that I’m hearing a group of obviously talented musicians trapped by playing a bunch of uninspired songs. Sorry. I liked Lights Out but the rest of the tracks sound quite tired and unimaginative. And that version of Alone Again Or... crumbs. It’s a shame as I really was quite excited.

Wayne Tibble: Let start off as new member here. I came from very open minded parents. And being born in 1960 I grew up watching the British invasion on TV. I passed papers as a youngster and lawn and shovelled snow. When I was 13 the first albums I bought were BS by Black Sabbath and In Rock by Deep Purple. Have been to over 500 major concerts. And still remember the first time I heard the Force It album on local college radio station. I was hooked. They had this fresh clean energized higher faster melodic edgy new sound. 

They couldn't really be categorized into one type of music. By the time Lights Out came out it was cynically and aptly describing the band's I loved. Deep Purple was ending, Sabbath was self destructing, Zep was past their prime and couldn't agree on future plans and it showed. Saw all of them multiple times and DP was only one that was really worth price of admission. 

Then UFO stormed in blazing a new sound that was faster cleaner crisper and yes kinda machine like. I absolutely loved this group and saw them 20 times from 76-79. It was like they had the style of Bowie for fashion sense, and this idea that it was about the full package. What sucked is that just as this was gaining a foothold in US Shrinker exited the scene. Van Halen came out and had the slot UFO had milled out and took over the high energy spot on the radio.

Mike Knoop: This album really grew on me over the course of the week. Phil Mogg's vocals and lyrics elevate the ballads beyond typical "boy meets girl" stuff. Similarly, Michael Schenker's soloing lifts up mid-tempo numbers like Just Another Suicide or Electric Phase. Ironically, the only real weak spot for me is the Love cover, which adds nothing to the original.

Would like to know what other group members think Michael Schenker's best performances are, regardless of group (UFO, MSG, Scorps, etc.). Also best UFO studio albums, with or without Schenker. Thanks. Given UFO's (and Schenker's) influence on bands I love, I'm always interested in hearing more.

Gary Claydon: Top notch album from one of the best hard rock bands there has ever been. Before I go any further I should come clean. I'm a massive UFO fan. I have seen them live more times than any other band- over 60, plus I can chuck in at least a couple of dozen post-UFO Schenker gigs from the very first MSG tour to the recent Michael Schenker Fest as well as various other UFO related bands. 

I own a heap of their material on various platforms and probably have enough UFO t-shirts for each week of the year. So, yes, my opinion of this album is gonna be somewhat biased. Even so, there really is no denying that Lights Out is an excellent album. It contains two bona fide, stone-cold classics in the title track and Love To Love. Album opener Too Hot To Handle sets things up perfectly and Electric Phase is one of the bands most underrated songs IMO and one that I wish they would add back to their live set list. 

While I'm not a big fan of ballads, Mogg's vocals have always been suited to the slower stuff as ably demonstrated on Try Me, a song which was resurrected in some of their live shows a couple of years ago to a great deal of approval among fans. Actually, I don't think it's their best slow number, IMO that would be Profession Of Violence off the (criminally under rated) The Wild, The Willing And The Innocent album. 

Lights Out isn't perfect. Alone Again Or is a pretty pointless (and dull) cover and I don't think the production does any favours to Just Another Suicide. Nor is it my favourite UFO studio album. I have a slight preference for Obsession and Force It. But make no mistake, this is superb stuff from a band who made THE best live album ever (actually one of the best rock albums ever, full stop), are responsible for a whole shit load of hard rock gems and one which will be sorely missed when Mogg calls it a day next year

Final Score: 8.06 ⁄10 (301 votes cast, with a total score of 2426)

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