UFO – The Visitor
Posted in Album Reviews, Music, UFO on June 18, 2009 by rockofages
Details: 2009, SPV, CD
What’s a poor old chap to do? Surely it’s about time someone deep in the recesses of Buck Palace gave the lad a second thought? After all, Phil Mogg has been helming the good ship UFO through rock’s stormy waters for nigh on forty years now. From space-rock beginnings, through the classic Schenker-years into the Tonka Chapman-era and a steady decline to the nadir of “Ain’t Misbehavin,” Mogg has fought tooth and nail to keep his band alive. Reaching the autumn of his career, he fronts a re-vitalised band that is truly enjoying a renaissance and “The Visitor” consolidates UFO’s reputation as a hard rock band of distinction.
This album has been produced without original founder and long-time member, bassist Pete Way, Though not his first absence from the ranks, this time he is recovering from treatment for a liver complaint. Peter Pichl (ex-Running Wild and now the bass-player in Nektar) undertook bass duties, but, whilst Mogg and drummer Andy Parker are on great form, this is undoubtedly Vinnie Moore’s album. For a supposed “shredder,” Moore has developed as a guitarist of style and subtlety. On “The Visitor” he establishes a bluesy-feel that runs like a vein through the album, even to the point of some masterful slide-work. The rolling groove of opener “Saving Me” sets the tone: musically, they’ve never sounded more like Bad Company and songs like “On The Waterfront” (with great 70’s-sounding keyboard flourishes from Paul Raymond) and “Living Proof” (with its swamp-vibe and low, growling vocal from Mogg) are trademark UFO. “Hell Driver” and “Stranger In Town” are tougher, built on solid riffs with melodies to match. “Can’t Buy A Thrill” and “Stop Breaking Down” employ those classy choruses that Mogg never seems to fail to produce on every album: simply put: just great hard rock songs, something UFO have been pulling off for years.
The band can’t quite keep the pace throughout: the solitary ballad “Forsaken” is too easy-going to be really effective and “Rock Ready,” whilst employing a blues-stomp, is not an especially memorable song. “Villains & Thieves” strays worringly close to (and I’m going to upset Rock Of Ages Management here) a Quireboys barroom outing, all tinkling ivories and chugging rhythm. But these are minor quibbles, there’s not a track that you’d skip and at least four potential classics that I’m expecting to hear on the forthcoming UK dates.
So, shape up Lizzie. A C.B.E. at the very least. Come to think of it, Sir Mogg has a nice ring to it.
Highlight: Living Proof
copyright 2009 - ROCK OF AGES