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UFO: The Best of a Decade

It seems that England's veteran hard rock heroes UFO have had their share of 'best of' colletions over the years, and you can add another one to the stack, this one taking a look at the last ten years and titled The Best of a Decade. If you've been following the band at all in recent years, you are probably aware that longtime favorite Michael Schenker is long gone, and in his place stands hot shot guitarist Vinnie Moore. The guitar ace has recorded with the band on releases You Are Here, The Monkey Puzzle, and The Visitor, as well as the live CD & DVD Showtime.

Three studio releases is kind of a strange to then decide to put together a 'best of' collection, but once you take a look at the track selection here you'll quickly see why The Best of a Decade looks to potentially be a quick cash grab for SPV Records. Six of the sixteen tracks here are live versions of old UFO classics by the current line-up; come on guys, don't you think fans of the band already have enough live and studio versions of these songs by now? Sure, all are solid, with Phil Mogg in fine vocal form, and Moore doing a killer Schenker impression while throwing in his own personality, but basically what you are telling the fanbase is that there's not enough original material from this line-up to fill up a 'best of' set, so let's throw in some old favorites so people will want to buy this thing. That's almost demeaning to the three solid, if unspectacular, releases in the Vinnie Moore era. Yes, there's some very good material here, like "The Wild One", "Daylight Goes to Town", "Helldriver", and "Mr. Freeze", all solid contemporary hard rock/metal with a bluesy touch, but tunes such as "Stop Breaking Down", 'Give It Up", "Jello Man", and countless other decent tracks from the three studio albums in question are cast aside in favor of live versions of tunes from the Schenker era.

If you are looking for a snapshot of the Vinne Moore era of UFO, this is not the best place to start. Seeing as there are only three studio releases so far, your best bet is to go out and either buy the individual CDs or download them, so you can really get an idea of where the band is at today. There's no doubt that the current line-up lacks the magic of the first Schenker era (and possibly even the Paul Chapman years for that matter), but UFO still rock out and can deliver better than plenty of bands half their age. The Best of a Decade is only the tip of the iceberg to what this current line-up is all about.


Track Listing
01. The Wild One (5:39)
02. Hard Being Me (3:35)
03. Lights Out (live) (6:17)
04. Saving Me (5:08)
05. Daylight Goes To Town (4:33)
06. Let It Roll (live) (5:05)
07. This Kids (live) (5:06)
08. Heavenly Body (3:52)
09. Helldriver (4:26)
10. Too Hot To Handle (live) (5:16)
11. Mr. Freeze (4:43)
12. Shoot Shoot (live) (5:02)
13. Black And Blue (5:29)
14. Can´t Buy A Thrill (5:14)
15. Baby Blue (4:32)
16. Doctor Doctor (live) (7:06)

Added: April 6th 2011
Reviewer: Pete Pardo
Score:
Related Link: Band Website
Hits: 2230
Language: english

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» SoT Staff Roundtable Reviews:

UFO: The Best of a Decade
Posted by Ken Pierce, SoT Staff Writer on 2011-04-06 18:02:22
My Score:

It doesn't seem like too long ago that we got a comprehensive collection of UFO classics but that would come care of a different label, and since those vintage years the band has continued on under the SPV Records brand and been keeping the releases coming at full strength. The band is still fronted by the legendary Phil Mogg who is accompanied by Paul Raymond on rhythm guitar and keyboards while Andy Parker is once again on the drums. For a few years the skin basher had been replaced by Jason Bonham who did a stand up job and the role of bassist is a rotating thing based on original member Pete Way's inability to tour. I've seen shows where Rob DeLuca of Spread Eagle was handling these duties and also at times Barry Sparks. Since 2004 the band has entrusted the guitar detail to a true virtuoso in Vinnie Moore and that is a welcome thing considering just how much praise is heaped upon the name of their most influential member in that role – Michael Schenker. Vinnie has recorded three studio albums with the band so far and from earliest to most recent those are "You Are Here", "The Monkey Puzzle" and "The Visitor". He is also found on their DVD/CD live release "Showtime" and hence is the guitarist found on all of the numbers in this compilation and believe me he does a superb job at the task. These later studio albums and the live effort showcased a band that still had a lot to say musically and they are saying it well. I guess under those circumstances it is acceptable to find a best of being released in celebration of the past decade in the bands history.

Yet here is where they are losing me on the release. The three studio albums are strong but yet do not at all come close to the legendary status of their earlier catalog. How could they when one considers the time that it was in music or the players that were involved in those recordings. The collection from the past decade touches upon all three of the studio albums and the live release and interestingly enough the live tunes make up six of the inclusions and are from the bands vintage repertoire. Its great that it lets the newer fan hear how the band will sound today in terms of a concert but that leaves only ten songs across the other three studio albums and they are worthy of a little more representation. I loved "The Wild One" and "When Daylight Comes To Town" from "You Are Here" and that release gets four of the remaining ten tracks which leaves three apiece from both "The Monkey Puzzle" and "The Visitor". I think I would have preferred that this be delivered as studio only tracks with perhaps a second CD of live classics from the current lineup as doing so little from each of the three albums made me feel that the band is not confident in their material or these recordings. It's not true of course but that can be a perception even though Moore and Mogg have proven themselves to be a solid writing team during their time together. There is an eight page booklet included that I liked quite a bit based on the number of photos it presents of the band in action over the past ten years along with numerous show posters and album covers. There are also some up to date liner notes about their recent history. My rating is left at "Good" since I felt this could have delivered just a little bit more.

The band on the whole is still vitally important to the world of Hard Rock and I think in some sense are still influencing the up and coming musicians along with many established bands. While their vintage years were more powerful, they are still a great force for the genre and remind us of this on the collection. This release is a good one and provides solid Hard Rock and Roll but it is by no means great to the fans that already have these albums. I advise that the new fans pick this up and also look into that definitive collection that was mentioned at the beginning.

UFO: The Best of a Decade
Posted by Steven Reid, SoT Staff Writer on 2010-08-03 17:58:02
My Score:

I don't think it is too great an over statement to suggest that Vinnie Moore saved the legend that is UFO from the scrap heap. Vocalist Phil Mogg and bassist at the time Pete Way had appeared to have run out of options with the final departure of the unpredictable, yet at times (although not much in recent years) inspirational guitarist Michael Schenker. The fact that the Schenker era(s) – good and bad - loom so large over this band, has unfortunately led to anything UFO have recorded with the plethora of line ups that don't feature the Mad Axeman being unfairly dismissed as second rate. That certainly is not true of Paul Chapman's time with the band and neither is it of the past decade with Moore manning the six string.

Tracks such as "The Wild One", "Mr Freeze", "Daylight Goes To Town", and the beautiful "Baby Blue" illustrate how Vinnie, who had been known only as a fret blazing technique freak until he joined UFO, has the adaptability and understanding to use his undoubted talent in a far more subtle bluesy manner befitting of his surroundings. The ten studio tracks included here are a great representation of what UFO in the 00's are all about, however with the fact that they are culled from only three albums, I'm really not sure who exactly is going to buy this collection.

The six other songs that are somewhat frustratingly sprinkled between the album cuts are live versions of pre-Moore tunes which are all already covered by the Showtime live album released in 2005. These usual suspects have been included on a ridiculously large amount of live discs already and while they are all decent romps, add little to the album and actually break up the flow of the songs. There's no denying the class of "Shoot Shoot", "Doctor Doctor" or "Too Hot To Handle", but even someone like myself who actively avoids most live album cash-ins these days, has three or four versions of these songs already. I'd have far rather got the chance to hear some of the Moore era songs live, however the band would actually have to perform more of them on stage for that to be possible!

Bearing all that in mind, I don't think that many casual UFO fans will be reeled in by the classic cuts and therefore the opportunity for them to be dazzled by the Moore era songs will be minimal. For the diehards, well, they will already have everything that is represented here.

Good songs – bad idea.


» Reader Comments:

UFO: The Best of a Decade
Posted by Scott on 2010-07-31 10:15:35
My Score:

Excellent review! Not a horrible setlist , just a little uninspired. UFO is a band that deserves to be heard and for whatever reason the fame or respect has always eluded them. A shame.




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