Rock Bottom
by UFO

Album: Phenomenon (1974)


  • Co-written by vocalist/lyricist Phil Mogg and then lead guitarist Michael Schenker, "Rock Bottom" was recorded initially for the 1974 Phenomenon album, on which it runs to 6 minutes 22 seconds. It was also released as a single - a format that could not possibly do it justice - the live version from Strangers In The Night is unquestionably the definitive. This album was recorded on the band's 1978 US tour and was released on the Chrysalis Label in January the following year.

    Running to 11 minutes 8 seconds, "Rock Bottom" is the high point with Schenker demonstrating awesome speed and technique, but this is more than a mere guitar solo; towards the end, Paul Raymond on keyboards provides a thrilling racing effect with the mercurial German, who, incredibly, was said to be unhappy with the recording. Others beg to differ. In 2004, Classic Rock magazine rated UFO's Strangers In The Night double album the #2 live rock album of all time behind only Thin Lizzy's Live And Dangerous; on the strength of that alone, "Rock Bottom" must surely rate as one of the top hundred if not top ten heavy metal tracks of the 1970s if not of all time.
  • In September 2008, when asked what had inspired the song lyrically, Phil Mogg said it was a horror film, but that he had forgotten its title. It is possible though that he was influenced subconsciously by the traditional song/poem "The Unquiet Grave", which contains the phrase "one kiss of your clay-cold lips". Mogg uses the same phrase "one sweet kiss on your clay-cold lips" (which is likewise to be taken literally) although in a different context.
  • It took a while for Phil Mogg to settle on a set of lyrics for this song. An early performance reveals how he sang completely different words early on. >>
    Suggestion credit:
    Alexander Baron - London, England, for above 3
  • In our interview with Michael Schenker, he explained that this song had a very spontaneous conception. "We were just sitting there looking for an additional song, and when I played 'Rock Bottom,' the riff, that's when Phil jumped up and said, 'That's it! That's it!,'" said Schenker. "So we started putting it together and putting it into form."
  • Speaking about the freeform nature of this song and how he improvises it during live performances, Schenker told us: "'Rock Bottom' has that piece in the middle of free expression, and it's perfect for me because I love pure self-expression. It's a really, really good part to play over that particular chord there, and it leaves a lot of space to come up with a whole bunch of creative ideas. Over the years, the solos have changed. I keep the basic structure of it, but there is a lot of space to put new 'sparks' on here and there and keep it fresh.

    It's always enjoyable to play over and over and over, because I can be very creative with it on the spot. That's a very fascinating, enjoyable part of music for me."

Comments: 4

  • Sim from Cleveland RocksProbably the heaviest song ever recorded by UFO. Schenker just goes off on this one. Another skipped band that truly belongs in The Rock Hall.
  • Jennifer from San Antonio, TxLove Love Love this song. It's kind of scary and true at the same time. No only is the lyrically genius, but the solo's are mind blowing. Love Rocking out to this. I am glad that I had parents who grew up with this kind of music, which in turn helped distinguish between s--t music (Modern Day) and great music, Classic Rock!!
  • Carole from Sacramento, CaSurely Rock Bottom is in the Top 10 all time best rock songs ever. Schenker is not much less then a teutonic god with his guitar in hand.
  • Jim from Long Beach, CaOne of the great anthems of 70's hard rock.
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