UFO - 2006 The Monkey Puzzle

geoviangeovian Earth Orbit
edited July 2020 in year-2006


ALBUM: The Monkey Puzzle
LABEL: Steamhammer/SPV
YEAR: 2006


LINEUP: Phil Mogg - vocals * Vinnie Moore - guitars * Paul Raymond - guitars, keyboards * Pete Way - bass * Andy Parker - drums

TRACK LISTING: 01 Hard Being Me * 02 Black And Blue * 03 Heavenly Body * 04 Some Other Guy * 05 Who's Foolin' Who * 06 Drink Too Much * 07 Down By The River * 08 Rollin' Man * 09 World Cruise * 10 Kingston Town * 11 Goodbye You

RATING: image


Considering this band has a ton of albums out there, it's a bit criminal for them to be under-represented here at Glory Daze, with only a handful of albums reviewed.

Admittedly, they have dropped off the radar (well, my radar at least) over the last few years, but they still continue to be a force, with credible personnel still in their ranks (and those who have recently been in there have been excellent quality too.i.e Jason Bonham, John Norum), plus a continuing deal with German label Steamhammer.

Just whereabouts Phil Mogg is in terms of his songwriting capability, will dictate how well U.F.O does upon the release of each album. If you look back in history, some of his inspired moments have generated success beyond the norm, while the average times.well, you know what would've transpired.

We're into 2006 now. American string-slinger Vinnie Moore is leading the charge, while the basis of the band is as it was back in 1976, minus Michael Schenker of course. That says something for longevity.

So what about the songs on 'The Monkey Puzzle'? Well, I read somewhere on the Net saying this was hardly 'classic'. On the contrary, this is 'classic' in the same context as the terms 'vintage' or 'retro'.

Slap on albums such as 'No Place To Run', 'The Wild, Willing..' and you'll hear the same musical context here. Paul Raymond's distinctive keyboard lines, Mogg's urban lyrical testament plus the evergreen rock solid back-end of Way and Parker.

The only difference is the sonic skill supplied by Moore, an excellent player in the true sense of the word.

The Songs

Whether it be the slide guitar histrionics a la Joe Perry on 'Hard Being Me' or the bluesy swagger of 'Down By The River', you get a sense of history being revisited. It's as if the recipe is well known by the cooks, the assembled guests like the food, so give them what they want.

I do like the mid-tempo acoustic/electric 'Who's Fooling Who', as I do 'Drink Too Much' (an apt title for Mogg's past history of imbibing dont'cha think?).

'Heavenly Body' features some heavy duty riffs from Moore (very 90's sounding) while 'Black And Blue' stomps its way into the house with a fair dose of sweat and attitude.

A very retro sounding track is 'Some Other Guy' Wind back the memory banks to 1976/77 and this wouldn't seem out of place on 'No Heavy Pettin' or 'Lights Out'. Moore, as in past guitarists before him including Schenker, makes these songs come alive. On some of those solos you can still get to hear the half-open wah effect that was a Schenker (and Tom Scholz of Boston) trademark.

Whereas Moore has bought U.F.O into the 21st century, Schenker meanwhile seems to be doing his best to wink out of existence, judging by his latest antics on the latest MSG Asian tour! But as we all know, this is nothing new to our Michael!

In Summary

Let's put it in perspective. Each of U.F.O's albums represents a time and place in history. Trying to compare 'Phenomenon' with 'Covenant' to 'The Monkey Puzzle' is a pointless exercise which die-hard fans can't seem to grasp in their infinite stupidity.

If bands like Deep Purple, Motorhead, The Who and U.F.O are still releasing quality product in this day and age, then who are we to argue? Embrace it and celebrate their continued existence. Long may it continue.

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