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UFO: The Wild, The Willing And The Innocent - Album Of The Week Club review

Singer Phil Mogg might have been listening to Bruce Springsteen, but UFO's The Wild, The Willing And The Innocent was much more than just a nod towards the boss

UFO: The Wild, The Willing And The Innocent
(Image: © EMI)
UFO: The Wild, The Willing And The Innocent

(Image credit: EMI)

Chains Chains
Long Gone
The Wild, the Willing And The Innocent
It's Killing Me
Makin' Moves
Lonely Heart
Couldn't Get It Right
Profession of Violence

If the title was a play on a 1974 Springsteen album and suggested singer Phil Mogg’s respect for The Boss, Long Gone (‘Summer rain kissed the streets that bleed like open wounds’) and the piano and sax solo on Lonely Heart (both played by Neil Carter, replacing Paul Raymond) confirmed it. 

In light of Bruce Springsteen’s contemporaneous double album The River, UFO's The Wild, The Willing And The Innocent was derided by many, but it nonetheless features some of Mogg’s finest lyrics and vocals. 

It’s also home to gems such as Couldn’t Get It Right and It’s Killing Me, plus Profession Of Violence that’s lifted by a brilliant Chapman guitar solo. The title and lyric came were inspired by the 1972 book The Profession Of Violence: The Rise And Fall Of The Kray Twins

"I got that record, and immediately fell in love with the band," broadcaster Eddie Trunk told us. "I was just like, 'This is amazing music. This is heavy, but it’s melodic. It’s exactly what I love.' And then I saw them – it was a snow storm – they came out and were so loud and so great."

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 January 1981

  • The Nature of the Beast April - Wine
  • Kiss Me Deadly - Generation X
  • Trust - Elvis Costello and the Attractions
  • Healing - Todd Rundgren
  • Welcome to the Wrecking Ball! - Grace Slick
  • Frost and Fire - Cirith Ungol
  • There Must Be a Better World Somewhere - B. B. King
  • Turn Back - Toto
  • Worlds Apart - Saga
  • Styx - Paradise Theater

What they said...

"Overall there is a real confidence and surety about the band that was missing on the previous, and subsequent, releases and as a result even the weaker tracks such as Making Moves come off sounding solid and convincing. There is a lot to like on this album" (Sputnik Music)

"The Wild, The Willing And The Innocent is a brilliant showcase for Chapman's talents. Chains Chains is the perfect entrée – a straight arrow rocker that leads into a classic. Long Gone is one of the finest hard driving. The title track does seem to stumble over its own chord structure in parts but is still a gem – I especially like the backing vocals – and It's Killing Me is a finely performed lighter pop/rock number. (RateYourMusic)

"The Wild, The Willing And The Innocent opens with the gritty guitar-led rocker, Chains Chains while Long Gone proves just what an accomplished guitarist Paul Chapman is in his own right. The Wild, The Willing And The Innocent is a wonderfully melodic song with some Spingsteen-style keys and, once it gets going, a stomping melody. More rock-centric than its predecessor, The Wild, The Willing And The Innocent has some fine moments and a suitably strong sense of  melody and gusto." (High Stakes & Dangerous Men: The UFO Story)

What you said...

Brian Carr: The Club has done it again: hit me with an album I had never heard, but absolutely adore.

UFO was always a solid band that I liked when I heard them, but never sought out. I always found them rather understated to some extent, possibly due to Phil Mogg’s vocals, which I found so much lower key than the banshee wail of Robert Plant and his ilk. Listening makes me think Mogg has a limited range, but he makes it work with solid melodic singing throughout UFO’s output. His voice is definitely distinctive and I like it quite a bit. There are some nice background vocals throughout the record as well.

The same can be said about Paul Chapman’s guitar work on The Wild, The Willing And The Innocent. He isn’t near the shredder guitar god Michael Schenker is, but he is on point on the entire album with solid riffs and wonderfully melodic leads.

The Wild, The Willing And The Innocent isn’t over the top, it isn’t heavy, but it is melodic and catchy as hell, with fantastic arrangements and it is the newest addition to my ridiculously large Apple Music library.

Robert Sullivan: UFO has always been one of my favourite bands. But I've often thought that their 80s output was uneven, like they were running out of steam. It probably could have used a better opening song. The tracks that stand out to me are Makin' Moves and Profession Of Violence. This album is pretty good - not an all-time classic but definitely worth owning in your collection.

Carl Black: This is Carling lager, this is Ozark, this is the English summer weather, this is a Ford Focus.

All good. All more than acceptable, all value for money, but there is a whole lot more that is easier obtained and is a lot better. It came and it went. No lasting impression, but no bad impression either. Would I watch a video from this album on YouTube? Yes. Would I search it out? No. Would I turn it off if it came on the radio? No. Would I turn it up? No. If they were included on a festival bill, would I go and see them?. Yes. If they pulled out at the last minute , would I be upset? No. I would never criticise anyone for having this album in their collection, but I'd never ask to borrow it either.

Hai Kixmiller: I was really looking forward to listening to and enjoying this week's selection. Especially after reading some of the posts from some of my CRAOTWC brethren, I was sure that I was going to be blown away by UFO's The Wild, The Willing And The Innocent.

I've never been a huge fan of UFO, I'm mostly only familiar with the Michael Schenker-era and there are some definite slamming, rock'n'roll classics from that lineup. Also, I must admit that I dismissed UFO after Schenker's departure.

After saying all that. I really enjoyed this album, but it wasn't as heavy metal as I was hoping for. I was expecting NWOBHM but only got pop with a couple of really good hard rock songs.

Chains, Chains starts you off pretty good. But it really never gets going. I was waiting the entire song for it to melt my face but it never really gets above lukewarm. It's like I was in a Lamborghini but just doing 55 mph. (Insert appropriate Sammy Hagar song here.)

Long Gone had me slouching my shoulders and shaking my head as the first notes rang out... but then it really turns into a scorcher. It's one hell of a rollercoaster coming off the rails rocker! I couldn't help but play this one several times before moving on. Even the orchestral arrangement at the end was cool.

The next two songs, The Wild, The Willing And The Innocent and the hypnotic, ultra groove rocker Killing Me have a more pop than hard rock feeling.

On the next two tracks UFO ups their game again with a couple of solid rockers. Much like Long Gone, Makin' Moves and the Bruce Springsteen, E-Street Band sounding Lonely Hearts start out gently and then you get pummelled by that big wall of sound. There's even some right, proper, heavy metal-ish, fiddly-diddly guitar soloing to get that rock snarl on your face... and then the last two songs mellow out again.

The album sort of follows this pattern of one or two "meh" songs followed by some proper beer swilling, fist pumping rock 'n' F-n' roll songs. All in all I really enjoyed this album. For me, it has that April Wine, Blue Oyster Cult, Sammy Hagar vibe. It's an excellent hard rock album but I was sort of wanting it to be a NWOBHM album.

One fellow member of our group was musing as to why UFO never got as huge as some of it's contemporaries. Here's part of why I sort of wrote them off. In 1981, Ozzy released Diary Of A Madman, Iron Maiden released Killers, Saxon released Denim And Leather, Tygers Of Pan Tang released Crazy Nights and Spellbound, Judas Priest released Point Of Entry, non NWOBHM bands like Rush released Moving Pictures, and Styx released Paradise Theater... the list of classic, stellar, rock albums that came out around the same time as The Wild, The Willing And The Innocent is huge. In company like that it's not difficult to see how UFO could have gotten overlooked by rock fans, myself included.

Eddie Brown: Lights Out was their best album but this is a close second. Very underrated as is all their 80s catalog. Couldn't Get It Right is one of my favourite UFO songs. Saw them opening up for Cheap Trick's Dream Police tour following this album. Awesome show. Love every song here.

Paul Nadin-Salter: Had this since it was first released, great gig at Sheffield City Hall. There is a session by UFO on TOGWT and Pete Way played Cherry from Obsession, absolute cracker and showed what an underrated genius Pete is.

Jussi Kallinen: Profession Of Violence alone raises this album among the band's best; very underrated!

Steve Torrens: Absolutely fantastic from start to finish. My only criticism is that there are only 9 tracks. Magnificent album.

Mark Furnell: A classic. All killer no filler.

Adam Ranger: UFO in General were criminally overlooked. In the greater scheme of things they should have been as big as Maiden or Priest. I will never understand why they were not.

To many it seemed they peaked in '79 with Strangers In The Night. But they released many a good album since then. TWTWTI is up there with some of their best studio albums. Better than its predecessor No Place To Run (which was still a fine album) this album has all the UFO classic style of melodic hard rock. The title track Lonely Heart and Profession Of Violence are my personal favourites. This is a solid rock album.

Jon Peacock: Excellent album, up there with the best UFO albums, one of my favourites. Profession Of Violence is a classic track which helps elevate the album up with Lights Out and Strangers... Saw them at Leeds Uni on the tour, hands down my best gig to this day, fabulous band!

Flávio Santos: Great album with great songs. Profession Of Violence has one of the most goose bumping guitar solos of all time.

Alan Duggan: I always got upset when Tonka Chapman got slagged for not being Michael Schenker. But I loved UFO whoever was on the guitar. This album is a classic just as Lights Out and Obsession were. Not a duff track in sight, just brilliant.

Mark McCullagh: Making Moves was the first song that popped into my head when I heard the news last week. Brilliant Album.

Gary Claydon: Underrated. It's a description which is used often about bands, in some cases perennially so. UFO are one such band. It's frequently said about Rush that they were the biggest cult band in the world. It sometimes felt similar with UFO to me. They never quite hit the big time but they are responsible for some of the greatest rock anthems. Pick up any of the seemingly endless compilation albums (usually entitled Greatest Rock Anthems, funnily enough) and it would be a fair bet that there will be a UFO track on it.The success of the seminal Strangers In The Night had finally given the band the sort of recognition they thoroughly deserved but the loss of the iconic Michael Schenker had threatened to derail their efforts. The first post-Schenker album, No Place To Run, had been a little disappointing. It wasn't a bad album as such but it seemed to lack edge and energy. George Martin's production and the laid back Montserrat recording atmosphere maybe didn't help. So what next?

A change of personnel and a self-produced beauty of an album, that's what. The line-up change was forced on them when Paul Raymond elected to throw in his lot with The Mad Axeman but the production side seems to have been very much a case of 'we might as well give it a go" and UFO have rarely sounded better on record than they did on TWTWATI to my ears. The songwriting is a strong point of the album, but that was usually the case with UFO, their songwriting being one of their most underrated (there's that word again) qualities. Pete Way's contribution in that respect was also greatly underrated (and again!) down the years. TWTWATI probably wouldn't be the first choice of album as a tribute to the late, great bassist. It isn't that he didn't make a meaningful contribution here, it's just that I've always thought of TWTWATI as being more of Mogg & Chapman's album. 

New boy Neil Carter has a fairly minimal role here, mainly backing vocals and the sax on Lonely Heart. The guitar parts and keyboards were pretty much already done by the time Carter joined the band, the latter by John Sloman who was with Uriah Heep at the time. He was asked to contribute keyboards to demos for the album and the UFO camp took that as an opportunity to 'audition' him to replace Raymond. Sloman was, of course, a former band mate of Tonka Chapman's in Lone Star and he was subsequently offered the gig, which he turned down. His work was used on the album but he was uncredited (there has also been some suggestion that some of the keyboards were done by studio engineers but that is far from clear).

TWTWATI might not contain any out-and-classics but there isn't a duff track here. This is high quality, rock-solid, melodic hard rock. Phil Mogg has always been a fine lyricist. The themes here are ones that he has often visited in his 'story telling' writing style - disaffected youth, streetwise tough guys, bar room romances etc. Vocally he's also on top form, as is Chapman, whose guitar on TWTWATI is up among his very best work. He also contributes heavily to the writing side as well. I suppose I ought to mention Andy Parker here, who has always been somewhat, er, underrated as a drummer!

Best tracks? I can't honestly pick one. Side One is ever so slightly stronger for me. It opens nicely with Chains, Chains and proceeds in fine style. The strings at the end of Long Gone segue tidily into the excellent title track. It's Killing Me takes the pace down a notch but is another fine song. Lonely Heart is probably my least favourite track, veering a bit too far to the 'poppy' side. Couldn't Get It Right is catchy and was always enjoyable live. UFO have never shied away from the slower tracks and Profession Of Violence is one of their best. Mogg's vocals have always suited this type of track and he delivered here. Chapman's guitar is also superb. If I have one criticism it's that I wouldn't have chosen to end the album with Profession Of Violence. Instead I think the upbeat Makin' Moves would have made a much better closer.

So how best to describe TWTWATI? UFO's best studio album? Not in my book. Lights Out and Obsession trump it. But not by much. Their best non-Schenker album? That's an unreserved yes from me. Underrated?

Gary Furtrapper: I think this is the best of the entire Tonka era, and only behind Lights Out and Obsession overall. They were a fine-tuned sonic buzzsaw at this point, before the lifestyle took its creative toll. Still holds up today, listened to it last week and thought: God dayum!

Mark Tucker: I love the Chapman era of UFO. The albums are built around the strength of the songs rather than as vehicles for guitar solos. TWWATI is the best of them all.

John Davidson UFO (nearly) broke into the mainstream of rock with classic double live album Strangers In The Night which showcased the best of their back catalog – in particular Lights Out over the more recent Obsession. But snatching defeat from the jaws of victory they almost immediately lost their mercurial lead guitarist (Michael Schenker).

Follow up No Place To Run with Paul Chapman on lead was a relatively dull affair (despite the George Martin production) and could easily have been the end of the band, but they had at least one more classic album in them and that was The Wild, The Willing And The Innocent.

Wild is more ambitious than No Place with a more diverse use of keyboards and the addition of strings, but it doesn’t pull its punches. Instead it uses the extra elements to add texture and break the band out of the formula. The absence of an outside producer has done no harm either as the sound is crisp and well balanced, capturing that live energy without losing the studio polish.

Neil Carter replaced Paul Raymond on second guitar and keyboards, but despite my fondness for Mr Raymond’s contributions on their classic albums, he isn’t really missed here.

Opener Chains, Chains sets out the stall with a mix of solid riffs and melodic chorus. It’s not the best song on the album but it’s a definite return to form.

Long Gone sees UFO return to familiar lyrical territory – with a slightly romanticised street punk themed song. The addition of strings makes this song heavier rather than sappy though and the guitar work shows what Chapman can do when he sets his mind to it.

The title track rocks along at a steady pace with the great mix of melody and gutsy rhythm while the vocal counterpoints and the keyboard sections add texture.

It's Killing Me is just the right side of a power ballad, with its shuffling groove and its eminently sing-able chorus. It’s the sound of teenage hearts breaking and boys weeping into their beer-stained denim before the guitar solo lifts their spirits and they start to air guitar.

Side 2 (as it used to be) kicks off with another solid rocker Makin' Moves which features two pretty nifty guitar solos.

Lonely Hearts starts like it might be another softer number, leading off with Phil Mogg singing over a piano led refrain before Neil Carter pulls out a saxophone. But then the guitars, bass and drums kick in and the song burst into life. There is admittedly a sax solo at about the three-minute mark, but it works better than most and doesn’t take away from the song at all.

Couldn’t Get It Right starts with a simple, crunchy riff but is carried along by the chorus and rhythm. Parker's drumming is good throughout the album but he adds some particularly nice touches on this track and the ‘hand clap’ effect (which can sometimes be overbearing) works well in this case. Then, just when you think the song is done, Chapman delivers another blistering solo.

We wind down with another deceptively gentle track Profession Of Violence which is again keyboard and vocal led with additional string arrangements. Phil Mogg sings a love song from the viewpoint of criminal/hitman (it’s not entirely clear) but like the best rock ballads, this doesn’t sound lightweight: you can feel the restrained power. Chapman’s solo (which takes up the second half of the song) manages to be both sombre and uplifting at the same time.

The whole band seem to be on form, Mogg delivers the vocals with melody, power and substance, while Carter, Way and Parker provide a fantastic rhythm section allowing Chapman the freedom to lay down some fantastic lead guitar.

It’s notable that compared to No Place To Run this album sees Chapman contribute to the writing of the better songs and if it is slightly more melodic and layered than earlier albums it still has enough fire in its belly to keep the rocker in me happy.

While it doesn’t showcase their most famous individual songs (though I’d argue Long Gone should be among the running) it is a more even album than most and there really is no filler. It’s certainly the last of the classics.

Oh and Killing Me is an ear-worm. I'm still singing it in my head three days down the line.

Todd Gentry: My favourite UFO album, certainly of the Tonka era and mmmmmaybe of all. Its a top to bottom album and I cant say that about any of the Michael albums.

Lyn John: Quality from start to finish. Chapman era UFO brings back some great memories. Bittersweet at the moment...

Jonathan Novajosky: When I first started getting into UFO a few years back, I didn't give the post-Schenker albums much of a chance. Their work from Phenomenon though Strangers In The Night is untouchable. Lights Out is probably in my top ten favourite albums of all time. But then, No Place To Run was a big step back compared to the prior albums. I think I got disheartened after that and went into The Wild, The Willing And The Innocent not very enthusiastically. The next time I decided to go through their discography, I quickly realised how amazing this album is.

It starts with probably my least two favourite songs in Chains Chains and Long Gone, though they're still pretty solid. I love the orchestral part at the end of Long Gone and how it sort of leads to the title track. Which by the way is a masterpiece and a top five UFO song for me. It highlights everything I love about the band: a nice classic hard rock sound, catchy riffs, and an incredibly melodic Phil Mogg on vocals. It's no secret that the band started taking off when Schenker joined, but Mogg was who drew me to this band. I just don't get why more hard rock/metal singers nowadays can't be such a good melodic vocalist like him.

Next is It's Killing Me; starting out in a moody, bluesy manner before kicking into that super catchy hook. Lonely Heart blows me away in that you don't really expect to hear a song like that on a UFO album. I'm always a sucker for when bands throw in that one wild card ballad in an otherwise heavy album. The high piano chords, the sax, and Mogg's voice make this one another favourite of mine. Couldn't Get It Right is an underrated deep cut, and I think it has the best work from Chapman here. Finally, Profession Of Violence is a strange, dark way to end things. I don't like it quite as much as Lonely Heart, however it's still very heartfelt and well-written. Definitely one of the better set of lyrics in their catalog.

Depending on the day you ask, I might rank this as my second or third-favourite UFO studio album, behind Lights Out of course. The Wild, The Willing And The Innocent is a downright fantastic album that has all the hard rock you would want plus a little variety to mix things up. RIP to Way and Chapman.

Billy Master: Their most consistent, post Schenker album. Phil Mogg has to have one of the best and most distinctive voices in rock.

Mike Knoop: The myth of Michael Schenker looms so large over UFO's legacy that it never really occurred to me to check out an album he didn't play on. That's a shame because The Wild, The Willing And The Innocent is a fantastic rock'n'roll album.

UFO strikes me as a band with a lot of tools in the toolbox. Phil Mogg's vocals and lyrics have always been a big draw for me and lend the music a certain depth and gravitas. It's not that he's above rock cliches like bad boys (title track) and fallen angels (Lonely Heart), he just seems to write them better. The downbeat numbers especially, It's Killing Me and Profession Of Violence, show off Mogg's talents.

At least on this album, Paul Chapman is as good a songwriter as he is a guitarist. Everything feels like a mini-epic that starts and/or ends in an unexpected way or even does unexpected things right in the middle of the song. Not in a complex, proggy way; but more like a rollercoaster where every musical twist and turn is a new thrill. Long Gone, the title track, Makin' Moves, Lonely Heart and Profession Of Violence are all aces.

Sadly I have to make do with what I see in YouTube clips, but Pete Way was as much of a showman as bassist, not content to stand still at the back of the stage. I can see how he was a fan favourite. And, in It's Killing Me, he contributes his own amazing mini-epic.

A hard rock band that already had the rare keyboard pass, UFO doubled down here, bringing back orchestral arrangements and even letting the new guy, Neil Carter, take a saxophone (!!!) solo and outro on ballad/rocker/ballad Lonely Heart to complement his keyboard intro. Carter proves himself a great utility player, especially on background vocals throughout.

I feel like I also need to compliment Andy Parker, but that's a sticking point. I may be an überfan of rock'n'roll, but as a non-musician it's hard to single out why one musician is better than another, especially if he's one of the guys holding everything together while the rest of the band blasts off.

What I can say is Parker gels perfectly with the rest of the band. And that might be the key to why I like this album so much. This may be stating the obvious to bigger UFO fans than me, but this really feels like a band album. There's a real synergy to the playing. Ultimately, this is a great band showing off *together* while playing great songs.

Final Score: 8.44⁄10 (229 votes cast, with a total score of 1933)

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