DVD review: THE STORY OF UFO – Too Hot To Handle (1969-1993)

The Story of UFO - Too Hot To Handle

Wienerworld [Release date 29.09.14]

One of the great mainstays of British hard rock for nearly 50 years, UFO have never been properly commemorated in terms of a video documentary.

Some fans may complain that this 60 minute overview (really from Schenker’s arrival in 1973 to the early-1990s) misses out some of the plot: the in-fighting and the revolving door that revolved mainly around the German guitarist.  Although Schenker appears in the film, there are no great insights or revelations about the more volatile later relationship with Phil Mogg.

Thankfully the main talking heads are Mogg and Pete Way taking us though the band history whilst the live action mostly retains full length versions rather than the sometimes inevitable cutaways/edits.

Details about the provenance of the live footage are sketchy (there are no proper credits either on film or in the liner note) but the Schenker gigs appear to date from 1976-1977 with Danny Peyronel and Paul Raymond on keys respectively.  Another curio is ‘The Coming Of Prince Kajuku’, a TV studio performance with Mick Bolton on guitar from c.1972.

You will like or lament the contributions from Joe Elliot (who I am surprised didn’t muscle in on the remastering of this film), whilst his Def Leppard colleagues Rick Savage and Phil Collen are also featured along with Steve Harris (Iron Maiden).

Sadly, the band’s late-1970′s producer Ron Nevison was not involved, or other band members.  (The connection with Nevison revived when they invited him to produce the Schenker comeback album, the excellent  ‘Walk On Water’ in 1995).

This package is bolstered by an additional 30 minutes of bonus footage – four more tracks with Schenker and Uli Jon Roth sparring at the Rock & Blues Custom Show,  Donington in June 2001.  Viewers must remember that there is 25 years or so separating these performances and Schenker – in over-sized football shorts – looks like a renegade southern rocker and by all accounts drank like one during this period.

This DVD first appeared in 2005 which was a better grade version of an earlier Japanese release (but less two tracks not deemed of sufficient quality).  The original actually came out on VHS in 1994.   20 years on, this isn’t a definitive account (and the Showtime DVD should also be sought out for live footage) but the archive material here is unique and in sufficient quality to merit even the casual listener’s interest.  For those wanting more depth Neil Daniels’ biography* is a good enough place to start.  ****

‘High Stakes & Dangerous Men – The UFO Story’ (Soundcheck Books, 2013)

Review by David Randall

David Randall presents ‘Assume The Position’ on Get Ready to ROCK! Radio every Sunday at 22:00 GMT.

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