Can You Go a Little Deeper: UFOIn a catalogue of songs with abstract meaning and near-indecipherable lyrics, UFO’s “Dance Your Life Away,” from their 1975 album Force It, has to be one of the strangest.
The track, ostensibly about a dance contest (“In a dance band competition / Fox-trotting with my girl”), sits hidden among songs about blackmail (“Shoot Shoot”) and washed up groupies (“Love Lost Love”). But as it hits the bridge, the song’s meaning becomes clearer: “You try your hand at anything you know / Just to try to earn a dollar.” At the risk of turning a rock song into an English class, that’s where we see the protagonist as a loser who fits more appropriately alongside the whores and misfits that populate the rest of the album.
Force It was UFO’s fourth release and the one that set the band on an upward spiral in popularity, setting the stage for the classic Lights Out album two years later. “Heavy metal that's not hard to take? wrote Robert Christgau, the “Dean of American Rock Critics.” “What? Well, the whole first side moves to smartly you could almost mistake it for rock and roll.”
Some trivia about the album cover: Hipgnosis designed the cover, as they had several other UFO covers of the era. (They also, of course, did Dark Side of the Moon). On both the vinyl and CD versions I have of Force It, the couple on the cover are almost transparent, something done for the U.S. market and our virginal eyes and morals. Eventually the album was released as intended, with the pair fully visible. The models, by the way, were Genesis P. Orridge and his girlfriend Cosey Fanni Tutti, both later of the band Throbbing Gristle.
Dance Your Life Away.mp3
(Can You Go a Little Deeper is an irregularly recurring feature here wherein I resurrect old favorites, lost songs, and other things you maybe haven’t heard in a while)