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Quick review: 'UFO: The Chrysalis Years (1973-1979)'

UFO is one of those bands that many people have heard but can't quite place. "Ah yeah," they'll say when you mention or hum some of their songs.

It's a crime these melodic hard rockers aren't a household name, with a 42-year career that's still going strong, as I noted last year

But this post focuses on "The Chrysalis Years (1973-1979)," an excellent five-CD collection that highlights the band at its commercial peak. At a time when FM was coming into its own, UFO delivered a series of radio-friendly rockers like "Lights Out," "Rock Bottom," "Doctor Doctor" and "Only You Can Rock Me."

This 81-song collection serves both samplers and completists, with all the top-notch songs mixed in with early recordings, demos, single versions and lots of live cuts. Four songs were previously unreleased, and others appear on CD for the first time.

There are a few slow points, early on as you hear the band honing its sound, and four versions of "Doctor Doctor" can quickly wear old. But for the most part, "The Chrysalis Years" is a winner, and a collection that you'll come back, either to hear a full CD or to zero in on a few choice cuts. 

The fifth CD might be the place for newbies to start, as it contains the "Strangers in the Night" live album from 1979, with two bonus songs. It's also a prime starting point for old fans as well, because it captures the band at its peak, and serves as troubled but brilliant guitarist Michael Schenker's swan song with the band. 

There's a second box set of the band's 1980-86 recordings on Chrysalis that I may buy at some point, but for now, Part 1 is more than worthy of repeat listens. 

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