UFO – “The Visitor” CD ’09 (SPV, Eng)
To begin with, I was very sad to hear about Pete Way’s non-involvement with this new UFO album. Not only is it disorienting to read the line-up on the tray card and find absent the etched-in-stone “Pete Way – bass” imprint…but you worry about him as a man. Apparently he’s got some serious health issues and attending to them kept him out of the studio this time, not to mention live performances. Still, worries about his long-time mate notwithstanding, Phil Mogg must be feeling pretty good about things at the moment. Not only has his band left the turmoil of Herr Schenker well in the rearview mirror, they’ve turned in an absolute blinder with “The Visitor.” I’ve got to admit, when I first heard Vinnie Moore was stepping into the UFO guitar slot several years back, I got a knot in my stomach. Having thought Moore to be a by-the-numbers Julliard-type shredder, I had visions of UFO-by-way-of-Rising-Force and, as an admitted fan-boy of “Force It” & “Obsession,” my blood ran cold. Upon hearing the band’s maiden voyage with Vinnie, “You Are Here,” however, I was more than pleased. Here Moore not only incorporated a helluva lot more blues into his style but he seemed to be a nice writing foil for Mogg, the pair coming up with some really good tunes. Next came “The Monkey Puzzle” and I was even more impressed. VM was fitting into the band even more so with his addition of things like melodic intros, interludes and such things that, while reminding of Michael, had their own style as well. Now comes “The Visitor” and we see a line-up that’s not only gelled but produced a damn classic in the process.
From the very beginning, this album has my rapt attention. Vinnie Moore opens proceedings by introducing “Saving Me” with a slide solo that coulda had held the inscription B. Gibbons. But before you get too comfortable, the band (good ol’ drummer Andy Parker is back joining the boys along with Paul Raymond – keys and Peter Pichl – bass) launch into a number than’ll have you throwing your fist in the air. Moore’s jagged, chunka-chords take you right back to “Obsession,” Mogg’s vocals have a swagger I haven’t heard in years and when the guitar solo kicks in, well I’m digging through the boxes in the basement for my old UFO shirt. As we move through the album there are so many things to dwell on, so many things to enjoy: the soaring melodies of “On The Waterfront,” the rough-&-ready rawk of “Hell Driver” and the breathtaking chorus in “Stop Breaking Down” are just some signposts along a wonderful 10 song journey. Then you’ve got the funk-laden “Living Proof,” the driving self-confessional of “Can’t Buy A Thrill” (no, not a Steely Dan reference) and the stunningly beautiful “Forsaken,” which must contain Phil Mogg’s most riveting vocal in 20 years. It all ends with “Stranger In Town,” a perfect book-end for “Saving Me,” with it’s hacksaw chords and outlaw feel.
Through the entire album a few things demand constant attention with their consistent presence. The first is Phil Mogg’s vocal & lyrical performance. Here is a guy who has never been given enough due as a rock singer, in my opinion. Thank God a recent issue of Classic Rock Magazine gave him props as one of the best in the business. It’s about fucking time, after 30-some years. His rich, sonorous voice has stayed true to course, deepening a tad if anything and it sounds as good as ever here. Let’s also talk about Phil’s lyrics. No one ever does and it’s a crime. He’s a guy with a gift of street poetry and personal expression that rivals that of another Phil (Mr. Lynott). Just listen to his powerful wistfulness on “Stop Breaking Down” and Bon-like toughness on “Rock Ready.” He’s the man. Second we are long past thinking about Vinnie Moore as a replacement for Schenker. He has cemented himself as UFO guitarist and the work he does here only puts a massive exclamation point on that fact. I’m impressed as hell at the way this guy can go from unleashing a torrent of heavy riffs one minute, slide into an acoustic segue that’ll bring tears to your eyes and finish you off with a lead run that goes from scalding treble rawness to Clapton-like brown-woman-blues in a second. And it makes sense. Tie it all together with the Mogg-Moore team dropping 10 new absolutely wonderful & varied songs on you (many described above) and you’ll experience this in all it’s glory: one of the greatest UFO albums ever! Heaven & Hell, listen to this and take note: Either shit or get off the pot. A Permanent Resident At The Realm
copyright 2009 - RAYSREALM