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UFO: The Salentino Cuts

Considering that British rockers UFO have a heritage stretching back to 1969, it's amazing that - well in truth, that they're still going - but that they never quite seem to be held in the same esteem as the other hard rock innovators of the time. Arguably their longevity and the inevitable ups and downs that entails, has robbed them of the legendary status their stellar catalogue of material deserves. For their 23rd studio release the line-up of ever present frontman Phil Mogg, original drummer Andy Parker and long-time keyboard playing guitarist Paul Raymond, alongside the now long established guitarist Vinnie Moore and relative newcomer Paul De Luca on bass (he joined in 2008), have chosen not to celebrate their own material. Instead turning the spotlight on the music that inspires them, The Salentino Cuts being the band's first covers album.

As you might expect from such vintage performers, there's a lot of classic material from years long gone by reworked here, but that's not the whole story, a wide selection of genres and eras incorporated into the UFO style - albeit an easier UFO style than you might expect. Always more of a classy, blues infused hard rock act than a set of heavy rockers (although they got pretty damn close in the Michael Schenker years), the band sound more laid-back than ever here. Partly that's down to a selection of cuts that take in tracks originally by The Yardbirds, John Mellencamp, Bill Withers, The Animals and Tom Petty, and partly it seems to arrive via a collection of relaxed, controlled performances that really do feel like they've come from the heart. From those selections, the surprise may be that it's Mellencamp's "Paper In Fire" that both sounds most UFO like and, arguably, is the best song on show. A slight boot up the jacksy given to an already charged composition, while Mogg sounds absolutely at home belting this one out. The Yardbirds "Heartful Of Soul" fares almost as well, while Petty's "Honey Bee" is given a deep, dirty twist that works a treat - Raymond's keyboards vital here, as they so often are.

The Doors' "Break On Through" feels a little stilted in places, the upfront snare beat somehow robbing it of any urgency (although my personal dislike of the song and The Doors in general may play a part in that…), while The Animals "It's My Life" also feels ever so slightly perfunctory. However, with Steppenwolf's "The Pusher" somehow adding more swagger than the original and the surprise inclusion of Mad Season's "River Of Deceit" allowing the band to reveal their tender side, much of what's offered up hits the spot. Two of the best examples being "Rock Candy" from Montrose, which is handled superbly, while "Mississippi Queen" originally by Mountain retain's the heart of the song and simply sprinkles a liberal dose of UFO on top. Add in a British-ised take on ZZ Top's "Just Got Paid", where Vinnie Moore is immense, and while it's a stretch to call The Salentino Cuts essential, it is good fun.

Track Listing
1. Heartful Of Soul
2. Break On Through (To The Other Side)
3. River Of Deceit
4. The Pusher
5. Paper In Fire
6. Rock Candy
7. Mississippi Queen
8. Ain't No Sunshine
9. Honey-Bee
10. Too Rolling Stoned
11. Just Got Paid
12. It's My Life

Added: September 15th 2017
Reviewer: Steven Reid
Related Link: UFO online
Hits: 603
Language: english

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