Popoff, Martin-UFO:A VISUAL HISTORY (Book Review)

Spread the metal:

Reviewed:  April 2022
Published:  2022, Wymer
Rating: 4/5
Reviewer: JP

There is a lot to be said for knowing when to quit. Once it is over, then people can celebrate. There are also some people who have a hard time letting things go. I think UFO and a small portion of their fans fall into this category. The UFO legacy is at a (mild) risk of tarnishing their own legacy. However, let’s face it. With three members dead and the singer retiring, the band is done. There is no point in continuing. Despite the fact that UFO went out with a bit of a whimper with the poorly received and oddly named covers album (THE SALENTINO CUTS) and an interrupted/delayed 50th anniversary tour, the band can walk away with heads held high.

That is why the timing is perfect for Martin Popoff’s new book UFO-A VISUAL HISTORY. This is his fourth book about the band but this glossy coffee table book is significantly different than his previous books, SHOOT OUT THE LIGHTS from 2005, which was expanded into a two-part series several years late.

Popoff has been working with the good folks at Wymer now for quite some time developing a fantastic series of visual history/hard cover coffee table books. I believe this is his ninth collaboration in the ‘A Visual History’ series of books including titles about Judas Priest, Hawkwind, Nazareth, Yes, Uriah Heep, Van Halen, Thin Lizzy and Blue Oyster Cult. Collect them all!

In case you are not familiar with the series, these oversized, hard cover illustrated histories are a treat; high quality, glossy paper, full colour, and that little cloth bookmark called a tassel. Now you know.

By now, in terms of quality, the standard has been firmly set.  This oversized hard cover matches the look and style of all the others in the series.  At 226 pages and hundreds of images this is pretty definitive!  It’s nice to see the photos of those (now ancient) light blue, Chrysalis cassettes!  I was also really impressed by the quality of the photos from the 70’s live concerts.

Wise Master Popoff has a lot of ground to cover in this the me.  Not only is UFO a very prolific band, the executive decision was made to include UFO spin-offs, which added a lot more meat to the bones of already fat tome.  I’m delighted to see Waysted, for example, get some attention. It is probably the one and only time that Waysted will ever get this level of formal recognition, and I for one am grateful!    Other spin-offs that get touched on are X-UFO, Fastway, The Plot and I had never even heard of Damage Control!

The only band/artist I wish had not been included was Michael Schenker.  His output has easily doubled and maybe even tripled that of UFO!   At times the Schenker/MSG content over-shadowed the UFO material, especially post -2000 which Popoff acknowledges in his text.  It must have been a difficult decision, you have to include Schenker in the UFO story obviously, but I feel he (and his myriad of confusing sub-projects) really deserves his own book.  Now because of Popoff’s high quality analysis and photos of Schenker in this book the impetus for him (or anyone) to do a big Schenker book has been dramatically diminished.  I hope he (or another author) proves me wrong.

Unlike his recent Priest book for Wymer where he seemed to run out of steam near the end, Popoff maintains his enthusiasm and energy for the recent years of UFO right to the end.  That does not necessarily mean he adores all those post-2000 albums but they all get equal care and attention.

It’s difficult to avoid comparisons, but again like the Wymer Priest book, the 50th anniversary milestone is a natural point to have this tribute published. Pair this up with his other books about UFO and you have everything you could want!

This gorgeous publication puts a really nice exclamation point on their career. As much as I would enjoy a new UFO album I almost hope they don’t drag it out. A new album would make this book incomplete, which would ruin the symmetry of it all. UFO needs to return to their home planet and retire in comfort.