Review Summary: Not quite up there with the two classic albums that followed but still one of their best releases.
Throughout the 70's UFO were slowly perfecting their own individual brand of hard rock which culminated in their peak period, both in terms of quality and popularity, at around the time their excellent double-live set 'Strangers In The Night' was released.
This particular album serves as an almost perfectly logical musical stepping stone from the rawer and more basic sounding 'Force It' to the classic 'Lights Out'. The 'Lights Out' album was probably the one where it all came together and along with 'Obsession' marks the high point of the band's studio work but there are plenty of signs on 'No Heavy Petting' of what is to come. The music itself could be accused of slightly lacking the energy and committment displayed on 'Force It' but the band are more assured on here and sound a lot more mature than on previous efforts.
Standard rocker 'Natural Thing' gets things underway followed by the superb ballad 'I'm A Loser' with it's trademark Michael Schenker solo. These are the most well known tracks on the album and became live favourites over the years. Fans of hard rock sometimes give short shrift to genre ballads but UFO virtually perfected the art and delivered some of the best examples of this oft maligned format; 'I'm A Loser' is one of their best. However, the real gems are to be found among the less well known tracks. 'Can You Roll Her' is propelled along by Danny Peyronnel on the keyboards with such energy it's hard not to be caught up in the sheer enthusiasm of it all and Schenker is again on top form with a driving solo that suits the song perfectly. 'Reasons Love' opens with a typically electric Schenker riff and although this isn't enough to save the song from dipping into mediocrity there are indications of what is to come in UFO's music in the way that Schenker is so busy throughout the song adding fills and little bursts of lead guitar throughout the verses. The standout track is probably 'On with the Action'. It is Pete Way's only songwriting contribution, but what a contribution it is ! A slow chugging slice of melodic heavy rock featuring a great Schenker solo which should have become a live staple. Album closer 'Martian Landscape' with it's heavily tremeloed keyboard intro is unlike anything else on the album and tips a hat to the space-rock origins of the band before developing into an entertaining little song with a wonderfully catchy chorus.
You may have noticed that the name 'Michael Schenker'appears quite often throughout this review. UFO were always capable of decent songwriting and Phil Mogg at his best was a great vocalist who contributed a lot to the band's sound but Schenker is a lot more than just the icing on the cake here. His influence on this album cannot be underestimated and his contributions rescue even the weaker tracks from filler status.
If you fancy a bit of prime 70's hard rock with melodic sensibilities alongside some classic lead guitar work you could do a lot worse than check out 'No Heavy Petting'.