"The Monkey Puzzle"


01. Hard Being Me
02. Heavenly Body
03. Some Other Guy
04. Who's Fooling Who
05. Black and Blue
06. Drink Too Much
07. World Cruise
08. Down By the River
09. Good Bye You
10. Rolling Man
11. Kingston Town

RATING: 7/10

It's hard to get riled up one way or another about a new UFO record, but it's almost impossible to rip on the band, either. For one thing, they're responsible for some of the most enduring hard rock anthems of the '70s — "Doctor Doctor" and "Rock Bottom" alone should secure their spot in history. For another, they've always come across as a likable, workingman's kind of group — nothing flashy, save for the departed Michael Schenker and his solos, just meat-and-potatoes rock and roll, from perhaps the ultimate pub-band-gone-big. A little too bland for their own good sometimes? Yeah, an honest appraisal of some of those classic albums will reveal a lot of filler. But they're not the sort of band anyone flat-out hates, either.
Rejuvenated with the addition of the relatively-spry Vinnie Moore on guitar, in a lesser-scale parallel to DEEP PURPLE's soldiering on with Steve Morse, UFO turns in a respectable, genteel performance on "The Monkey Puzzle". Phil Mogg is in fine voice, though he seems locked into this mumbly, bluesy, one-note mode. Moore keeps things going with some amiable, ear-friendly soloing and pleasant enough riffs. The closest the band really comes to "rocking out" is "Rolling Man", which wouldn't raise eyebrows on the dance floor of a cruise ship, but there is some tasty guitarwork and sly, sardonic vocal action on songs like "Black and Blue" and "Heavenly Body".

"Drink Too Much" and "Good Bye You" are perhaps the low points of the record, both slow and lightweight to the point where they sound like classic '70s AM pop. But really, all of "The Monkey Puzzle" kind of operates at the same low hum — Mogg stays in one voice, returning drummer Andy Parker is restrained to the point of narcolepsy, and only the occasional flourish from Moore livens things up a bit.

But, like I said, who can rip on UFO without feeling like a total asshole? The record is likable enough, and it's not bad at all – it's just hard to imagine ever listening to it again, really. It's a decent enough slice of laid-back, gray-haired blues rock, uninspired and mild, but enjoyable and decent enough in spots to acquit itself well. I'll probably regret that 7 rating later, but I just can't make myself lower it.


To comment on a BLABBERMOUTH.NET story or review, you must be logged in to an active personal account on Facebook. Once you're logged in, you will be able to comment. User comments or postings do not reflect the viewpoint of BLABBERMOUTH.NET and BLABBERMOUTH.NET does not endorse, or guarantee the accuracy of, any user comment. To report spam or any abusive, obscene, defamatory, racist, homophobic or threatening comments, or anything that may violate any applicable laws, use the "Report to Facebook" and "Mark as spam" links that appear next to the comments themselves. To do so, click the downward arrow on the top-right corner of the Facebook comment (the arrow is invisible until you roll over it) and select the appropriate action. You can also send an e-mail to blabbermouthinbox(@)gmail.com with pertinent details. BLABBERMOUTH.NET reserves the right to "hide" comments that may be considered offensive, illegal or inappropriate and to "ban" users that violate the site's Terms Of Service. Hidden comments will still appear to the user and to the user's Facebook friends. If a new comment is published from a "banned" user or contains a blacklisted word, this comment will automatically have limited visibility (the "banned" user's comments will only be visible to the user and the user's Facebook friends).