Jim Sullivan: U.F.O

~ Thursday, 3 February 2011
If you're a vinyl junkie then there are some records that come with a certain amount of mysticism and folklore. U.F.O is such a record. Having long been talked about in reverence by record collectors and conspiracy theorists, this is an obscure piece of work from an artist that few people will have heard of but it is a truly wonderful and majestic record. It is over 35 years since Sullivan disappeared. His VW bug was found abandoned near Santa Rosa, New Mexico, his motel room untouched. Some say he got lost in the desert. Others think he fell foul of a local family with alleged mafia ties and some even claim he was abducted by aliens. The answer is that we will never know.

When alive Sullivan was never that successful, so it is fair to say that the mystery surrounding him has played a part in his legend. But as the years have pasted many could see the talent he possessed and U.F.O is far more than some curiosity. First released in 1969 it should have seen Sullivan up there with Buffalo Springfield and The Allman Brothers but things didn't work out that way.

The album is basically a country rock record with some nods towards the psychedelia that was to come but it is the lush strings and arrangements that set this apart and make it shine. Opener Jerome is indicative of the rest of the album with its summery jangly sound but the real magic starts with the blissful
Plain As Your Eyes Can See. This is a classic from the distorted rhodes piano to the 12 string guitar. Whistle Stop brings to mind Procol Harum in both the vocals and organ while Rosey sounds like something Burt Bacharach might have penned if he was on prozac. Yes, it is that good.

The likes of
Highways, So Natural and Sandman only add to the quality of this album. This is a record that was made before music had to be put into categories. It didn't matter then if it was country, pop or rock. It only mattered that it was good. I'm happy to admit that I have had a bootleg of this album for many years and have cherished it dearly. It is up there for me along side Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young's Déjà vu and Buffalo Springfield's self titled debut and now with this re-issue you can cherish it to.

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