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UFO: The Visitor

British legends UFO are back with their latest release The Visitor, an album that marks their third studio platter with guitarist Vinnie Moore, but is also notable for the absence of founding member and bassist Pete Way, who is suffering from liver disease and was not able to take part in the recording of the CD. Soundwise, The Visitor picks up where both You Are Here and The Monkey Puzzle left off, as the band continues on with their gutsy hard rock and blues style that they seem content to cement themselves in.

On the first few listens, that very fact seems to have become a detriment to the band, as The Visitor initially has a somewhat generic feel, the classic British heavy rock sound that they made famous in the 70's and early 80's seemingly lost in favor of a more American hard rock sound featuring plenty of blues influence. A tune like "On the Waterfront" is a perfect example of this, a standard blues rock number that has cliche written all over it, or the Black Crowes styled "Rock Ready", complete with plenty of slide guitar that somehow sounds a little out of place on a UFO album. However, after repeated spins, The Visitor begins to uncover some of its treasures. "Saving Me" and "Hell Driver" both reveal themselves to be ballsy rockers, complete with Phil Mogg's powerful snarls and some tasty guitar licks from Moore. "Stop Breaking Down" proves to be one of the most passionate pieces here, Mogg's emotional delivery cutting through some beefy riffs and pounding drum work from Andy Parker. The ballad "Forsaken" sees Mogg trying his best Lynott/Springsteen impression, while the crunchy rocker "Villains & Thieves" features some cool honky tonk piano from Paul Raymond plunking down alongside Moore's crunch laden riffage. The strongest piece here though might be the Deep Purple inspired "Stranger in Town", as heavy riffs and organ take this rampaging song through many high points, Mogg sounding particularly angry and effective on this heavy rocker.

The Visitor ultimately prooves to be a solid entry in the UFO discography. It's neither a true classic or a weak offering, but a satisfying slice of modern hard rock by a legendary band. It's nice to see acts lile UFO, Uriah Heep, Deep Purple, and Nazareth still delivering quality music these days, decades after they made their original marks on the scene. Though The Visitor might have a tad too much blues rock for some (though if you are a fan of Humble Pie, Free, or Bad Company you might not mind that much), there's anough metallic moments here, and certainly plenty of Vinnie Moore brilliance to go around. He's certainly a different player than Michael Schenker, but he adds in bits of Schenker-isms here and there along with his own style, making for a truly inspiring performance.


Track Listing
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"
11. "Dancing With St. Peter"

Added: July 14th 2009
Reviewer: Pete Pardo
Score:
Related Link: Band Website
Hits: 3293
Language: english

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» SoT Staff Roundtable Reviews:

UFO: The Visitor
Posted by Ryan Sparks, SoT Staff Writer on 2010-02-09 21:51:45
My Score:

Ever since British hard rock legends finally parted ways with guitarist Michael Schenker and closed the chapter on that part of their history, it seems as if they've been slowly rebuilding their credibility. Since the release of 2004's You Are Here album, the first to feature Schenker's replacement Vinnie Moore, they have been forging ahead and carving out a new identity for themselves. This is something that is immediately apparent right from the opening notes of their new album The Visitor.

The past events with Schenker, and even bassist Pete Way's recent legal troubles (as well as news of his unfortunate illness at the time of this writing) have contributed to the general dysfunctional feeling surrounding the band over the years. However, with Moore on board and contributing heavily in the song writing department, this seasoned shredder has played an important role in steering the ship back towards the respectability they so rightfully deserve.

Vocalist Phil Mogg has long been known as one of rock's most colorful lyricists and it's his vivid imagery that has played such an integral role with regards to setting the tone and mood of each song. Moore is keenly aware of this importance because he constructs his chugging riffs and short explosive solos in such a way that it perfectly complements and augments Phil's exotic tales. Check out Moore's bloozy slide infused intro on "Saving Me" or the mighty swampy feel of "Rock Ready" for further proof that UFO is once again becoming a viable force in the classic rock arena. This is not to necessarily suggest that they've ever gone away for long, because they haven't. However, once you hear Vinnie's blistering solo on the aforementioned "Saving Me" or the catchy hooks and meaty riffs contained in "Villains & Thieves" and "Stranger In Town", there shouldn't be too much of a debate as to whether or not the material on The Visitor can hold its own alongside the classics in their live shows.

If you're a fan of the 'classic' UFO sound then you really need to pick up a copy of The Visitor. The songs here not only retain that vintage feeling of their heyday, but they also demonstrate that this version of the band has really begun to gel as a unit.

(originally reviewed for www.classicrockrevisited.com)

UFO: The Visitor
Posted by Butch Jones, SoT Staff Writer on 2009-07-14 13:43:36
My Score:

UFO have a very special spot in my heart as well as a tattoo on my arm! When I was 12 years old, my Mom bought me the greatest live record of all time, "Strangers In The Night" (along with Thin Lizzy's "Live And Dangerous, of course!) and my life was changed forever. I played the song "Light's Out", 11 times in a row and was hypnotized by Michael Schenker's mastery of that Gibson Flying V. A few month's later I saw UFO and AC/DC (with Bon Scott!!) in concert and was further amazed by UFO. This was the tour for "Strangers In The Night", back when bands would tour for their live records. Bassist Pete Way was a show all by himself (what would Steve Harris have done without Pete Way setting the standard as a showman) but that blond guitar player with the Flying V from the "gatefold" double album cover was no where to be found! Instead, the great Paul Chapman was now on board and he filled those massive shoes left behind by Mr. Schenker quite well. This was 1979. The Schenker era was closing, as the Chapman era was starting. And the following few albums in that Chapman era would prove to be as strong if not stronger than any of the classic studio records from the Schenker era before it. What do records from 30 years ago have to do with modern day UFO? Unfortunately, not much!

Enter 2009 and UFO have a new CD called, "The Visitor" (SPV Records) featuring the guitar whiz, Vinnie Moore who has been in UFO for almost 7 years already. The first thing that is absent with '09 UFO is Mr.Pete Way. Due to a liver ailment, he was unable to participate in this project. And to me, without Mr. Way this is not quite a real UFO record. "The Visitor" contains 10 new tracks that are mostly slow to mid paced classic rock and show very little emotion or passion. As usual, Phil Mogg's vocals sounds great, although a tad old and tired, but there is a definite feeling of restraint within this album. While it IS awesome to have Andy Parker back in the fold on drums and of course the keys/rhythm guitar of Paul Raymond that make up key parts to the "classic UFO", it's the guitar of Vinnie Moore that sounds the most held back. While I don't want to hear the uber shredding of Vinnie's early '80's neo-classical career in UFO either, it does sound as though both his guitar tone and fleet fingering are held back. Moore is the "young buck" with these "seasoned vet's" and you would hope that he would breath a little life into this version of UFO, but this is not the case. Moore does light it up though, as you would expect, even if it is pulled back a bit. Vinnie Moore has really transformed himself into some what of a Jeff Beck-ish, tasty player than that shredder of old and I for one am happy he has.

Yes, I realize that I do live in the past a tad (a TAD??!! Haha) but in 2009 a band with the history that UFO has, I would have hoped for a little more life and not a birth of a '60's/very early '70's Rock band. Much of "The Visitor" is very much slower, bluesy based which is fine and dandy just not what I would have expected from UFO. I can't even use the Hard Rock label to much of this UFO! Does that mean that I don't like it? Not really, no. Highlights on "The Visitor" are opening track, "Saving Me" and "Villains & Thieves", both with a very Wild West feel to them. Another cool tune is the CD closer, "Stranger In Town", that does has some swagger and attitude to it. Just wish that there was more it on

"The Visitor" does totally need a few run through's to get a handle on what the '09 UFO is doing, for sure. This is nothing like the classic UFO material nor do I think that wanted to be that either. I would have hoped for one or two quicker tunes like they were always know for, but YES, I also understand that 3 of the 4 members are in their 50's or early 60's as well. I'm glad that UFO are still around to keep their legendary name alive and able to also tour and play for both new and older fans. But to be honest, I wish that this record would have gone under another name than that of UFO. The material sounds a bit tired and much unlike the UFO of old and also without Pete Way, this isn't a real UFO record to me, being an old fan. But having said all of that, it is what it is and the material is decent, however not very relevant in the scope of what the legend of UFO is. But this is 2009 and I know I still see UFO as that 12 year old in 1979, for the most part. But I will always love and support UFO. Just wish that this record had some teeth to it. Get well Pete!

UFO: The Visitor
Posted by Jon Neudorf, SoT Staff Writer on 2009-05-31 23:07:38
My Score:

For those of you who like your rock and roll filled with heavy bluesy riffs, pounding drums and soulful vocals look no further than The Visitor, UFO's latest CD. It is a testament to the band that after twenty albums, they are still putting out quality material. This is a kick-ass record if there ever was one, and reminds me of the best blues based rock from the 70s. There is no doubt the guitar play of Vinnie Moore adds some youthful enthusiasm to the proceedings and gives the band a renewed energy that can be heard throughout these ten songs. He adds some great leads along with outstanding slide guitar and has a tone perfectly suited for bluesy rock. Vinnie Moore's deft touches are a perfect compliment to the bluesy and emotion filled vocals of long time member Phil Moog. Moog's sometimes raspy vocal delivery fits in well with the heavy blues rock atmosphere this disc exudes. To these ears he has not lost a thing and his voice is in fine form. Original member Andy Parker adds his powerful strokes on the drum kit and really propels these songs especially when considering the unfortunate absence of bassist Pete Way due to ill health. Lets not forget the other founding member Paul Raymond who adds rhythm guitar and timely keyboard fills when called upon.

The album starts out right from the swamp with the southern influenced blues based boogie rock of "Saving Me". The acoustic intro, complete with slide, is excellent and leads to some ripping riffs that really gets the blood flowing and ends like it started, with a flourish of acoustic guitar. "On the Waterfront" is a mid-tempo blues infused rocker with more solid guitar and timely organ fills courtesy of Raymond. The hard driving "Hell Driver" follows suit with straight ahead power riffs and another sweet solo by Moore. Reminding me of Black Sabbath at the beginning, "Stop Breaking Down" is loaded with more great riffs and a melodic chorus delivered by Moog. What I like about Moog is that he shows great restraint and always adds the right amount of emotion when needed and is able to spin his down to earth tales with sincerity and integrity. I believe him when he sings "You can put me down, you can put me up, I'm used to living on self made luck". After all, they have been at this for 40 years, impressive to say the least.

The album does not deviate too much from what I described above, nor should it. UFO feel right at home here, delivering a melodic, solid slice of blues inflected rock and roll that hits on all cylinders. Give this one a spin and feel the love.


UFO: The Visitor
Posted by Dean Pedley, SoT Staff Writer on 2009-05-24 01:08:39
My Score:

Aside from occasionally dusting down Strangers In The Night I have pretty much parted ways with UFO since the patchy Making Contact way back in 1983 and watched from afar over the ensuing years as the band had their finger poised on the button marked 'self-destruct'. However my interest has been piqued from reading reviews of recent efforts since Vinnie Moore has come on board and the band seemingly rejuvenated as a consequence. Of course this wouldn't be UFO without some kind of internal upheaval and The Visitor is notable for the absence of bassist Pete Way due to health problems associated with the liver. We wish him a swift and full recovery.

Pay no regard to the jarringly out of place cover artwork, this is an album with its roots in both country rock and blues, kicking off with the southern twang of 'Savin Me' that is characterized by Phil Mogg's frazzled vocals. Moore's contribution to the modern day UFO sound is immense, with a dazzling array of techniques at his disposal from the blues licks of 'Forsaken' and 'On The Waterfront' to the blistering solos, riffs and slide guitar work found elsewhere. For the most part the band are content to let him bask in the limelight and Paul Raymond's keyboards, aside from some honky tonk piano on 'Villains and Thieves', are largely redundant. Mogg's lyrics are suitably offbeat with the pick being the Mexican flavoured 'Hell Driver' and vocally he still delivers. This is a laid back and mature sounding UFO and they sound all the better for it.

With The Visitor the unthinkable has happened - UFO have begun to grow old gracefully. Whoever would have thought it.



» Reader Comments:

UFO: The Visitor
Posted by Chris Jordan on 2009-05-18 16:22:07
My Score:

I think your review is right on the money. I think I might have give the release four stars, but three-and-a-half is about right... 8/10. Too much blues for my taste, certainly, as well. Overall, though, I like this release a tad bit better than "You Are Here" or "Monkey Puzzle", which I would have given a 7.5/10 each.

The production, musicianship, certainly, is extraordinary for hard rock these days. Excellent lineup. Not too sure why Mogg and the boys are getting into blues so much these days, though. They are better suited to the hard rockers, but the band must be in the "blues mood", more so than in the 80's. I count about five strong songs on this album, where the other two albums with Moore, only had four. The rest of the tracks are so so.




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