UFO
"The Visitor"

(SPV)

01. Saving Me
02. On The Waterfront
03. Hell Driver
04. Stop Breaking Down
05. Rock Ready
06. Living Proof
07. Can't Buy A Thrill
08. Forsaken
09. Villains & Thieves
10. Stranger In Town

RATING: 8/10

That UFO composed 35 tracks for new album "The Visitor" attests to the fact that the legendary band has no paucity of ideas. The fire still burns hot and with super axe-man Vinnie Moore on board for three albums straight now the unit — also featuring original members Phil Mogg (vocals), Paul Raymond (guitars/keyboards), and Andy Parker (drums) — is as strong as it has ever been. Unfortunately, zany bassist Pete Way couldn't be involved because of his struggle with liver disease. The follow up to 2006's "The Monkey Puzzle" is another great album from a band that consistently releases great albums.

Listen to classic albums like "Lights Out" and then spin the "The Visitor". You'll find no loss of quality, only less of a metal edge and a greatly increased emphasis on blues-based hard rock. It was always there, but these days Mogg's uniquely soulful voice and way with words (the Mogg rules), Vinnie Moore's sleazy slide work, and a rhythm section that bumps and shuffles is the difference. The band continues to pen those heartfelt tales of love and loss ("Forsaken", "Stop Breaking Down", "Can't Buy a Thrill"), sturdy 'n catchy balls of work ("Villains & Thieves", "Hell Drivier", the organ-laced "Stranger in Town"), and even a slice of hot funk ("Living Proof") most in one form or another inspired by the blues. But it is when the gloves come off and the spirit of the delta is brought to the fore that "The Visitor" really illustrates the spirit that infected so many of the early British hard rock acts, as heard on the sweltering bayou rock of "Saving Me" and the excellent "On the Waterfront" (with Raymond's organ-drenched melody and Mogg's impeccable patterns on the chorus). A classic blues rocker called "Rock Ready" is an album highlight, even as it recalls the likes of 70s bands like BAD COMPANY and of course UFO itself.

It is Vinnie Moore that has really come into his own on this album. It had been difficult for some to accept the absence of Michael Schenker, yet Moore has filled the role for so long now and done so with a blend of Schenker's passionate style and his own virtuoso playing in a way that crosses familiarity with modern freshness. And never is UFO merely a showcase for his playing; it is indeed impressive, yet never in a way that distracts from the centrality of the song.

For as long as I've watched UFO over the years it seems there have always been far too many people still unfamiliar with the greatness of this act, particularly stateside. Don't be one of those people. Pick up "The Visitor" and immerse yourself in the magic of one of classic rock's best bands.

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