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The Monkey Puzzle
2005 - Showtime

 


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Even if we all praise Black Sabbath, Deep Purple or Led Zeppelin for their contribution/inspiration/legacy to what we refer to as ’Heavy Metal music’ the last 25 years (from the NWOBHM days and on), there are also other bands without which our beloved genre would sound completely different. Some cry out loud for Thin Lizzy, others chat ’bout Blue Oyster Cult, a lot defend Uriah Heep. I’m on their side; still I cannot even imagine how things would end up being for various bands/styles without U.F.O.’s existence.

After the usual come-and-go of guitar wizard Michael Schenker, 2004 should be considered as a turning point for the U.K. legendary band’s career. ’To be or not to be?’, was the common thinking. Phil Mogg, Paul Raymond and Pete Way decided to take the risk and carry on by enlisting some ’fresh blood’. ’Fresh’ of course applies to the U.F.O. criteria, since both six-string virtuosos Vinnie Moore (Vicious Rumors, solo, session) and lunatic skinsman Jason Bonham (Bonham, Virginia Wolf, session) possess such ’vivid’ CVs! The bet was set: would the renewed lineup make it? The "You Are Here" (2004) album showed enough tension, the sound was 100% U.F.O. and the songwriting featured interesting elements. The world of hard rockin’ music accepted the album with a slight misgiving, waiting for the next ’solid’ step. Well, this ’juicy’ double DVD is here to shut everyone’s mouth in advance. I don’t know for how long the five musicians will carry on together, I only wish the band’s next album will preserve the ’chemistry’ I witnessed in this bursting DVD release.

DVD 1 features the band’s concert in Wilhelmshaven, Germany on May 13th, 2005. Over 90 minutes of powerful U.F.O. music displays a terrific onstage appearance by all five members. Mogg’s voice is - again - a killer while Pete Way confirms his certification in Hard Rock lunacy. Paul Raymond - the silent force in the band - breathes trust while both Vinnie Moore and Jason Bonham ensure their commitment to this legendary act. The usual classics are here - "Let It Roll", "Only You Can Rock Me", "Love To Love", "Too Hot To Handle", "Lights Out", "Rock Bottom", "Doctor Doctor" or "Shoot Shoot" - while ’new’ cuts like "Daylight Goes To Town", "Slipping Away" or "Baby Blue" fit like a glove in the setlist. Also, try the bonus features: there’s a short Tommy Newton speech (top class German producer with Helloween, Conception and numerous other bands, worked for this DVD also), sharing his enthusiasm for working with his idols.

DVD 2 is also brilliant: six studio versions of U.F.O. tunes are performed in a German studio. Three of them feature a strings quartet, in order to supply new ’air’. Shiver was the result of watching this session. "Try Me" - one of the best Rock tunes ever - is awesome, for example. Still, I laughed my ass off watching Way stand next to these sharp dressed stringsmen. A picture tells a thousand words. Also, footage from U.F.O.’s 2004 Rockboat gig (onstage in a cruise ship!) shows unique moments in the day of a colossal band ("I wonder, does Rod Stewart carry his own luggage?" - Phil Mogg) while the ’members interview’ chapter consists of an overall Q&A list regarding the U.F.O. history, from the late 60’s ’till our days. Sex, drugs and U.F.O....

The only reason a U.F.O. fan would not purchase this release is the absence of Schenker. Are you that diehard? This new lineup is fresh, ass kicking and - most of all - this exceptional DVD release includes simply everything to keep your eyes/ears open wide for more than three hours! Still wondering?

reviewed by Grigoris on 23rd November 2005 - copyright Metal Temple



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