I was as pleased as anyone to see the post-Schenker renaissance of UFO, both live and in the studio. Like many, I had my doubts that they could emerge again as a potent rock force. But off the back of "You Are Here" and some excellent live shows, I was delighted to be proven wrong.
"The Monkey Puzzle" was more of the same, but less so. In retrospect, it was a holding album, more perspiration than inspiration, so there's a lot riding on this one, especially with original bassist, Pete Way, missing in action. Which makes it even odder when this turns out to be UFOs AC/DC album. Yup, UFO done got the blues, and got all boogiefied. Not wholly unfamiliar territory for the band, but not the melodic hard rock they excel at. There are some awful songs here with 'Hell Driver' the worst offender, not helped by some Vinnie Moore solos that often seem to be on the album, but UFO still manage to be pull a few rabbits out of the hat.
So, when it goes right, you remember why UFO remain of the most unsung yet best bands of all time. 'Saving Me' is the best of the blues tunes, 'Stop Breaking Down' is a step back to their mid-tempo melodic grooves and 'Rock Ready' is a fine, slide drenched, audience friendly number. Best of all, though, is the ballad 'Forsaken', something that UFO were always particularly good at. It's a song that also contains the best Phil Mogg vocal of the album, as there are signs of strain elsewhere.
It's a record that tries really hard, but there are at least four tracks here that I'll never play again. But an average UFO album is still a lot better than most lesser mortals, and the songs that do work are definitely worth hearing.