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UFO: High Stakes & Dangerous Men / Lights Out In Tokyo

The theory goes that if a UFO album doesn’t have a certain Mr Schenker and his flying v gracing it, then it isn’t one of the band’s best. In all honesty, while the albums UFO created with Michael Schenker are, almost, universally excellent, so too are a fair few that they didn’t. For 1992’s High Stakes & Dangerous Men it was Laurence Archer (Stampede/Grand Slam (the latter with Phil Lynott no less)) who found himself being the latest pretender to the UFO guitar-throne. And he wasn’t alone in making his recorded debut with the band, drummer Clive Edwards (Wild Horses/Uli Jon Roth) also being a first timer. In fact for both of the newbies, High Stakes... would be their only appearance with UFO, but it has to be said that the duo did themselves and this outfit’s legacy proud. Also back in place for the album was bassist Pete Way, with the trio teaming up with the only ever-present in the outfit, singer Phil Mogg.

The tough thing for UFO was that by ’92, they had somewhat fallen out of fashion and the seemingly endless comings and goings of musicians in their ranks didn’t really do much to disprove that theory. However, right across HS&DM, the band’s trademark rocked up blues are in evidence, with Archer bringing an individuality to the authenticity required to make sure that none of tracks sound like rehashed ideas. As you’d expect, Mogg is in fine voice (why he never comes up in best ever rock singers chat I’ll never know), with his confident, easy delivery sparking wildly off the guitar licks on the grooving “Burnin’ Fire” and high energy “Borderline”. On the latter Archer really does peel off a scintillating solo, and with it being the album opener, it feels like a clear marker that UFO had found yet another fine guitarist. Other highlights show up in the shape of the mid-paced punch of “Running Up The Highway” and straight to the point “Primed For Time”. The rest of the album shows up really well too, the band’s well known sound still being fresh and vibrant, although “She’s The One” maybe feels a little out of place with its smooth, slicker feel, but as more natural sounding Def Leppard alike tracks go, it’s a good one!

For this two disc Cherry Red/HNE reissue, the choice to combine this line-up’s only studio outing with what I believe is their only live album, Lights Out In Tokyo, proves an excellent one. With the same high energy and top notch performances allowing the handful of High Stakes... songs such as “Running Up The Highway”, “Borderline” and “Back Door Man” to sound right at home alongside the band’s classics. Cleverly, the set is paced in such a way that the (then) new cuts get the show going while still being interspersed with the likes of “Too Hot To Handle” and “Cherry”. However, from the mid-point on there’s simply no mucking about, legendary tunes like “Love To Love”, “Only You Can Rock Me”, “Lights Out”, “Rock Bottom” and “Shoot Shoot” taking a good live album and making it great - and it has to be said that with Archer firing on all cylinders, you don’t miss his six-string predecessors one iota.

Often misunderstood, or simply not given a chance, High Stakes & Dangerous Men, and Lights Out In Tokyo hold up strongly against any UFO album you care mention. Okay, I can’t pretend that either release are better than this band at their very, very best, but for those in the know this set will be pretty indispensable. For those who never gave either a chance first time round, what are you waiting for?

Track Listing
DISC ONE High Stakes & Dangerous Men (1992)

1. Borderline
 2. Primed For Time
 3. She’s The One
 4. Ain’t Life Sweet
 5. Don’t Want To Lose You
 6. Burnin’ Fire
 7. Running Up The Highway
 8. Back Door Man
 9. One Of Those Nights
 10. Revolution
 11. Love Deadly Love
 12. Let The Good Times Roll

DISC TWO Lights Out In Tokyo (1992)

1. Running Up The Highway
 2. Borderline
 3. Too Hot To Handle
 4. She’s The One
 5. Cherry
 6. Back Door Man
 7. One Of Those Nights
 8. Love To Love
 9. Only You Can Rock Me
 10. Lights Out
 11. Doctor Doctor
 12. Rock Bottom
 13. Shoot Shoot 
14. C’mon Everybody

Added: July 25th 2022
Reviewer: Steven Reid
Related Link: UFO @ Cherry Red
Hits: 435
Language: english

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