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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.

See more about this release on our recent YouTube show!

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: November 10th 2017
Reviewer: Steven Reid
Related Link: UFO online
Hits: 1358
Language: english

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UFO: The Salentino Cuts
Posted by Pete Pardo, SoT Staff Writer on 2017-11-10 09:58:39
My Score:

Generally, a good 'covers' album is one that either a)gives a completely new spin to familiar, classic material, or b) where a band goes out of their way to pick songs that you would not expect they would cover. The latter is pretty much the case here with The Salentino Cuts from legendary British hard rock act UFO. With the exception of perhaps The Doors' "Break on Through" and Mountain's "Mississippi Queen" (though the band do a roaring take on that heavy rock classic!), much of what's included here are at first questionable picks for a band such as UFO, they manage to really make these unsuspecting songs all their own. The Yardbirds "Heartful of Soul" is full of bluesy, hard rock swagger, and the lesser known Steppenwolf gem "The Pusher" is a major success in the hands of Mogg and company. While Phil in 2017 will never be able to compete with a young Sammy Hagar from the early '70s, the band fire into a spirited take on Montrose's "Rock Candy", which features some sizzling guitar licks courtesy of Vinnie Moore, who also shines on Robin Trower's "Too Rolling Stoned", "ZZ Top's "Just Got Paid", and the albums real surprise, Mad Season's "River of Deceit". Throw in a very cool "Paper in Fire" and a soulful "Ain't No Sunshine", and you have a very fun set of cover tunes from the boys in UFO that show off their rocking side as well as a bit of blues, soul, and good old time rock 'n' roll. Can't complain about that!

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