Review Summary: The last of the classic Schenker era UFO albums.
Michael Schenker was important to UFO not just as their resident guitar hero. He also formed the core writing partnership with Phil Mogg which produced most of the band's best work. To say that the departure of Schenker after this release left a hole in the band would be something of an understatement. But I'm skipping ahead here, he did contribute to 'Obsession' and the album we have here is maybe not quite the best thing UFO ever did but it's certainly the most interesting.
Album opener 'Only You Can Rock Me' is a bog standard UFO composition which wouldn't sound out of place on any of their previous releases - a mid-tempo hard rock number with a decent hook and a melodic chorus. However, the band take things up a notch with the vicious 'Pack It Up And Go', an absolutely electric track with Andy Parker pounding out the beat with brutal precision and Mogg giving one of his best ever vocal performances. UFO had never sounded so downright committed as this before. Almost as an apology for the subsequent minute of recorders and a strummed guitar that is 'Arbory Hill' the band launch into the excellent 'Ain't No Baby' which manages to pack into 4 minutes virtually all the elements that UFO became famous for - tasteful slowburn hard rock, glorious melodies, busy lead guitar and great solos. Another highlight is 'One More For The Rodeo' on which Schenker goes to town and almost drives the whole song with endlessly inventive lead guitar flourishes. Schenker was renowned for his technical ability but there is no wankery on here. The solos never outstay their welcome and seem to fit within the framework of each song perfectly. A proper UFO album usually has it's fair share of ballads and 'Obsession' is no exception. 'Cherry' is quite mediocre but 'Looking Out for No.1' employs a string section to great effect and album closer 'Born To Lose' is beautiful in its simplicity while featuring one of Schenker's best solos.
'Obsession' is by no means as straightforward and consistent as the previous release 'Lights Out' but there is an extra dimension to their sound on here. It's altogether darker, more atmospheric and definitely feels weightier than anything they had ever done.
It's a shame that Schenker decided to quit the band after this album. 'Obsession' finds UFO moving away from their comfort zone in places and it would have been interesting to see where the Mogg/Schenker writing team would have gone from here. I am pretty sure that whatever they had produced would have been a cut above 'No Place To Run' which turned out to be possibly the weakest album UFO had released up until that point and marked the start of the slow decline of the band throughout the 80's.