With Phil Mogg still sounding great on vocals and Pete ‘wayward’ Way (Bass) and Andy Parker (Drums) still holding down the beat, guitarist Vinnie Moore steps up as the ‘new’ boy filling a role best remembered as belonging to Michael Schenker and doing a pretty fucking good job of it too.
In the late '70s when UFO released arguably one of the best live rock albums out there, Strangers In The Night, I was a serious UFO fanatic. But by the mid '80s the various line up shuffles had dimmed my love for the band and stretched my wallet to breaking point, so I really wasn’t expecting too much with this album.
It was a mighty fine surprise when opening track The Wild One still sounded like the band I remember.Mogg’s distinctive voice could belong to no one else and that rollicking bluesy metal with a chorus that slips right into your psyche could only be UFO.
Followed by the equally fine Hard Being Me I was just starting to feel the love before the live version of Lights Out slowed down the mood. I just don’t see the need for yet another version of this song, or Let It Roll or Shoot Shoot or Too Hot To Handle – we have those songs nailed damn near perfectly a coupla decades back. Why rehash? I can understand why they still play them live sure but I don’t think they need to be on this compilation, especially when the band serves up songs the calibre of Saving Me, The Wild One, Helldriver, Black And Blue (with its Who like riff to start the song) and Mr. Freeze.
The live tracks are sprinkled through the album, and while they don't sound bad they don't add anything new either. The band still has some mighty fine moves going on. They can still write songs with more hooks than an emo kid has piercings, and the live tracks really don’t add anything to the legacy or the future. I would have preferred to hear more of the newer songs, more of what they have to offer now than what they had to offer thirty years ago.
But I’m nitpicking. It’s rare that a band of this vintage can still live up to its past, to its baggage. I won’t say they have because it would be damn near impossible to top Lights Out or No Heavy Pettin’ but they haven’t disgraced themselves either, and I’d put any of these songs up against their 80s material. This sits nicely alongside the better moments of No Place To Run or Making Contact or anything from the wilderness years.
There’s plenty of life left in these old dogs that’s for sure, even though Pete Way’s liver apparently isn’t what it used to be. Let’s hope he and they can keep on rolling a few more years.
UFO's The Best of a Decade is out now on SPV/Riot.