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UFO: The Monkey Puzzle

Legendary British hard rock band UFO are back with their latest album The Monkey Puzzle, picking up where they left off with 2004's You Are Here. This time around, exiting is drummer Jason Bonham and rejoining the band is longtime member Andy Parker, bringing most of the original core UFO line-up together again, that being Parker, singer Phil Mogg, bassist Pete Way, and keyboard/guitar player Paul Raymond. Of course, Michael Schenker is no longer with the band, and in his place for his second album with the band is American guitarist Vinnie Moore. The boys sound even more focused this time around, mixing plenty of bluesy hard rock, pop hooks, and the ocassional metal crunch into the eleven songs on the album.

Guitarist Moore is really settling into his role with UFO here on The Monkey Puzzle. Showing that he is much more than a neo-classical shredder (a tag that followed him through much of his early career), Vinnie pulls out all the stops here, like some metallic bombast on the rocking "Heavenly Body" (sounding like a combination of Zakk Wylde, John Petrucci, and Steve Morse), tossing in some anthem-like riffs on the catchy "Black and Blue", and even laying down some impressive bluesy slide guitar on "Hard Being Me". Shades of Robin Trower can be heard on the soaring "Drink Too Much", where Vinnie rips some searing blues rock leads over the lush acoustic guitars from Raymond, while Mogg sings his heart out. One major difference between this album and You Are Here, besides for Parker's more groove oriented drum work, is that Raymond's keyboards are much more prevalent in the mix, so expect to hear plenty of electric piano and organ throughout on The Monkey Puzzle. Of course, UFO's trademark style is the down and dirty gritty hard rock sound, and they deliver a few of those, like the heavy hitting "Down By the River", featuring nasty guitar licks from Moore and a powerful vocal from Mogg (the man can still kick butt!), and the Bad Company influenced "Rolling Man", complete with addicting guitar riffs and Raymond's beefy organ tone.

The Monkey Puzzle sounds like the work of a pretty stable band who are cranking out some quality music, and maybe having more fun than they have had in years. Vinnie Moore has really seemed to energize this band, and his virtuoso guitar work is one of the highlights here, along with the ever powerful vocals of Phil Mogg. Throw in the always solid bass work from Pete Way, the return of Parker, and more keyboards from Raymond, and you have a very enjoyable album from one of the greats. It may not be Lights Out, but it's damn good nontheless.

Track Listing
1. Hard Being Me
2. Heavenly Body
3. Some Other Guy
4. Who's Fooling Who
5. Black and Blue
6. Drink Too Much
7. World Cruise
8. Down By The River
9. Good Buy You
10. Rolling Man
11. Kingston Town

Added: October 9th 2006
Reviewer: Pete Pardo
Related Link: UFO Website
Hits: 4225
Language: english

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