There’s a fair bit of top-drawer rock to be found on this recent-career retrospective.
Greg Moffitt 2010-09-08
The subject of numerous compilations documenting their 1970s heyday, London hard rock heroes UFO have produced some of the hottest riffs and catchiest hooks in the business. They have not, however, cut enough classic tunes during the last ten years to warrant yet another retrospective. A state of affairs made even more acute by the fact that The Best of a Decade ignores both 2000’s Covenant and 2002’s Sharks – both recorded with guitarist Michael Schenker – concentrating instead on the trio of later outings featuring Vinnie Moore.
If this collection has been designed to generate interest in or even in some way vindicate UFO’s 21st century career, it forms a less than ringing endorsement. Of the 16 tracks here, no less than six are live versions of material penned in the 1970s, albeit performed by the current line-up. The record company (you get the feeling the band weren’t involved) may have had just three studio albums to choose from, but padding this out with songs from the ‘classic’ era is hardly a resounding vote of confidence in their artists.
If bolstering recent material with older songs isn’t actually a negative reflection on the former but merely a numbers game – a best-of culled from three albums seems excessive – then why bother with a compilation at all? UFO made their name and sold most of their records with the brilliant but erratic guitar genius Schenker, but current six-stringer Moore is a world-class axeman in his own right and no mere Schenker imitator. The albums in focus – You Are Here, The Monkey Puzzle and The Visitor – are rock solid throughout. A genuine showcase should allow them to shine, not tacitly admit that it’s the 70s songs we’ve all come to hear.
Get past this untidy compromise and there’s actually a fair bit of top-drawer rock to be had. The same blues-infused, good-time vibe rolls on as always, frontman Phil Mogg’s voice as warm and wonderful as ever and songs such as The Wild One, Daylight Goes to Town and Hell Driver sounding energised and as committed as a band half their age. This isn’t the drug-fuelled train wreck that rocked hard and partied harder taking half of the 70s with it but, stopgap rehash or not, UFO 2010 aren’t ready to touch down just yet.
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