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UFO - The Monkey Puzzle (CD)

The Monkey Puzzle
by Grigoris Chronis at 07 October 2006, 10:40 AM

The fact that UFO and their music did not eventually turn up to be 'distinguished' as much as in e.g. Deep Purple or Led Zeppelin remains an unsolved mystery. Was it the label support? Could it be the Media back-up? Should we refer to the furious lineup changes? Any way you want it - and not to omit the fact that UFO is a pure Hard Rock legend after 35(!) years of career - many should agree that UFO remain (most of all the rest) kinda 'loyal' to their style. This - alone - grades the present album itself!
Even if many of the band's fans oppose to the recruitment of guitar virtuoso Vinnie Moore in the last 3-4 years, we all should have in mind that the elixir of a younger member, in such a crucial position, can turn out to evoke some renaissance. You Are Here (2004) did mark some new start, since who could enjoy both Michael Schenker-related (lately) Covenant (2000) and Sharks (2002) albums in the relative 'come and gone' (again) mood? Last year's live Showtime CD/DVD combo was a semi-blast and, with 'classic' drummer Andy Parker joining again the camp (is Jason Bonham still playing with this Foreigner, by the way?), the anticipation for a new effort was high. Eventually, in late September the 19th UFO studio album will hit the stores and you can expect something of the following for your specific taste:
- Vinnie Moore's performance is solid as hell. In charge of what he's paid for, he delivers the freshness UFO need after so many years of existence, while his soloing variety is 100% 'thumbs up' for the specific track listing
- Andy Parker provides the experience Jason Bonham could not convey (anyway, a nice skinsman). Offering the appropriate space - along with Pete 'luna' Way - for Moore to unveil his instrumentation, he surely is a behind-the-lines hard working man
- Phil Mogg is Phil Mogg. If you don't like him you don't like UFO (so, logically, you do not read this review)
- The album features eleven tracks strongly related to the band's 90s-and-onwards intentions. Most of them are in mid-to-groovy tempos; in addition, some of them deal with British 'classic' Rock and a few 'southern' US Rock elements flow here and there. Emotional songwriting is captured in more quiet moments while no frenzy moments could I detect through the album's 46 minutes
- The sound is what you expect to hear from a 70s Hard Rock legend. The Monkey Puzzle was recorded at the Area 51 Studio in Celle, Germany, by Tommy Newton (also directed the recordings of You Are Here and Showtime)
- Key-tunes of this album include Who's Fooling Who?, Kingston Town and Black N' Blue
Do you expect UFO to re-invent music? Their music? No. Neither do they. The Monkey Puzzle did please me slightly more than the You Are Here predecessor, but there's nothing more this - and every post-70s UFO album - can do to improve the band's dominance in Rock history. That's a fact. Have this in mind to 'mild' your expectations; then, enjoy a good album.

3 Star Rating

Hard Being Me
Heavenly Body
Some Other Guy
Who's Fooling Who?
Black And Blue
Drink Too Much
World Cruise
Down By The River
Good Bye You
Rolling Man
Kingston Town
Phil Mogg - Vocals
Pete Way - Bass
Paul Raymond - Guitars, Keyboards
Vinnie Moore - Guitars
Andy Parker - Drums
Record Label: Steamhammer/SPV


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