Many hardcore fans of Brit rockers UFO round our way (South Wales, let me remind you) wouldn’t consider anything that didn’t feature German axe Titan Michael Schenker worth a spit; Notwithstanding they made some marvellous noise with Paul ‘Tonka’ Chapman – himself a Welshman, and a damn fine one a that – after the mercurial Mickey went missing, and, of course, completely ignoring the ‘misguided’ Atomik Tommy M days, they lived in a nostalgic, patchouli-scented bubble, waiting for the return of their king…

And, of course, return he did, for 1995’s Walk on Water. But it wasn’t quite the earth-shattering comeback the faithful wanted, to be honest, falling between a couple too many stools in it’s effort to please everybody. However it did well enough to keep it’s main progenitors- Messrs Phil Mogg, Pete Way and Schenker – interested, which leads us to the reason I’m here and wittering on today.

The good people at HNE Recordings have coupled Schenker’s final two albums with UFO – Covenant and Sharks – in a nice new reissue set, and although the albums appear unadorned, with no juicy extras, remasters or ‘previously unreleased’ tempters, the addition of a slightly expanded version of the live disc that accompanied the original release of Covenant may well prove enough to snare a few impartial observers into making a fresh investment in these albums.

After the team-up with Ron Nevison (who else? certainly not George Martin, that’s for sure…), the band strangely found themselves holed up with shred metal spruiker Mike Varney for Covenant, and a home on Varney’s ‘niche’ Shrapnel label. Whilst this seemed a drop down in league, the change in knob twiddler actually works well for the band; Varney gives a sympathetic performance behind the desk, always ensuring that Mogg’s superb vocals are given the prominence they deserve, and never letting the temptation to allow Schenker to swamp everything take over; Listening back now it’s a pleasure to be reminded of great tracks like Unraveled and Midnight Train, and the fact that the band could still come together to present bona fide classic UFO tracks like Love Is Forever, which to these ears is the best track the reformation lineup came up with and remains in high rotation on any UFO nights in with the missus…

Sharks wasn’t quite as effective in terms of hard rock classicisms, but there’s no getting away from the fact that it still packs something of a punch when held up against what was to come later. I’ve nothing against Vinnie Moore, nothing at all, but even his best moments don’t quite raise the goosebumps the tight-but-loose feel of tracks like Shadow Dancer and Perfect View do here (other opinions on this are available – Ed.)

The live disc – recorded on the Walk On Water tour in Buffalo, New York in 1995) features versions of Only You Can Rock Me, Too Hot To Handle and Rock Bottom that didn’t appear on the original bonus disc, though not, curiously, Shoot Shoot and C’mon Everybody, which appeared on the contemporaneous Japanese Release. If you’ve not heard this disc, suffice to say it’s not Strangers In The Night, and the recent glut of live UFO on the market renders it less than essential, but it’s nice to have live versions of Walk on Water‘s best tracks – Venus and Pushed To The Limit – to hand, and it has to be said Mogg is in fine vocal fettle throughout.

A curio for completists only, really but probably worth a punt if you never owned a version of Covenant that came with the live disc first time round.

The Covenant/Sharks reissue releases on April 19th.