After 45 years UFO keep hovering above the rest on 22nd studio album.
Vocalist Phil Mogg perhaps puts it best on the album’s fifth track “Devils in the Detail”. For it’s in the detail that the brilliance of UFO, in whatever line-up from the past 45 years you care to choose, truly shines out amongst their peers.
Some bands, of a certain vintage, they know who they are, are happy to hawk themselves around playing greatest hits tours after greatest hits tours, bemoaning the fact that apparently “nobody wants to listen to new music anymore”. Then you have bands like UFO, Magnum etc that keep themselves fresh, vibrant and more importantly relevant, as they advance in years. In the past decade they have released an album every three years and the quality has been consistently high. This album is no exception.
Of course UFO are a band made for the live arena and it’s with that environment in mind that many of the tracks are envisioned. From the opening riff of “The Killing Kind”, a track that Phil Mogg advises “Tell a story about love and what lovers find, a story of possession, the killing kind.” to the final notes of the bonus track “King Of The Hill” it’s a rocking thrill ride that keeps the intensity high and the rhythm on full throttle. In other words it’s a proper hard rock album.
Legendary producer Chris Tsangarides (Judas Priest, Thin Lizzy) is once again called upon to do what he does best, bringing swagger and controlled power to the sound. Tsangarides was first introduced to the band as a 14-year-old trainee when UFO recorded their debut album ‘UFO 1’ in 1970. Tsangarides applies all of his experience and know-how with aplomb, but it’s the strutting majesty of the band that stands out on this album.
The brilliantly swampy blues feel of “Ballad Of The Left Hand Gun” is a particular highlight and comes across like Seasick Steve with a rocket up his backside. Prior to that the classic hard rock stomp of “Run Boy Run” sees the band tread familiar territory with a new zeal and purpose on what is probably the album’s finest moment.
Vinnie Moore’s guitar work drives every one of the 11 tracks and here he produces some great solos and riffs that hang with the best of the back catalogue. Fellow six-stringer Paul Raymond’s work is also never understated and between the both of them they have it covered.
“Precious Cargo” offers a looser feel than the harder moments on the album. It’s no less powerful for it though. The opposite in fact. It’s rolling melody and laid back style make for one of the more uplifting tracks on the album.
Mogg’s vocals sounds as gritty as ever and the rhythm section have been at this game long enough to know what they are doing. All members are performing at a level that shames bands half their age.
Not every track works though as “Real Deal” somewhat flatters to deceive. It’s not a bad song by any means but doesn’t quite live up to the rest of the album in terms of catchy chorus or memorable hooks. This is merely a very slight blot on what otherwise is a brilliant album.
Overall, this is the sound of a band who , as they have on their last few albums to be fair, can summon the spirit and energy of their 1970’s pomp but use their wise old heads to re-define the classic UFO sound. They may not make them like this anymore but at least the originals are still around for us to enjoy.
“A Conspiracy of Stars” will be released on 23rd February 2015 on Steamhammer / SPV Records.
Donnie’s Rating: 8.5/10
Phil Mogg – Vocals
Paul Raymond – Guitar/Keyboards
Vinnie Moore – Guitar
Andy Parker – Drums
Rob De Luca – Bass
April and May sees the band embark on another UK and Irish Tour. Dates are:-
Thu 16th April Norwich – Waterfront
Fri 17th April Cambridge – Junction
Sat 18th April Wolverhampton – Wulfrun Hall
Sun 19th April Manchester – Ritz
Tue 21st April Dublin – The Academy
Wed 22nd April Belfast – The Limelight
Fri 24th April Glasgow – O2 ABC
Sat 25th April Newcastle – O2 Academy
Sun 26th April Leeds – O2 Academy
Tue 28th April Nottingham – Rock City
Thu 30th April Bristol – O2 Academy
Fri 1st May Falmouth – Pavilion
Sat 2nd May Exeter – Phoenix
Sun 3rd May Salisbury – City Hall
Tue 5th May Brighton – Concorde 2
Wed 6th May Oxford – O2 Academy
Thu 7th May London – HMV Forum