1. Who is the band? What is their history? What motivates them?
“Vocalist Phil Mogg, guitarist Mick Bolton, bassist Pete Way and drummer Andy Parker formed the band in August 1969. Originally taking the name 'Hocus Pocus', the group changed their name in October 1969 to UFO in honor of the London club where they were spotted by Noel Moore, who signed them to his Beacon Records label. Their eponymously titled first album debuted in 1970 and was a typical example of blues and boogie based hard rock. The album included a heavy version of Eddie Cochran's classic, "C'mon Everybody". (Wikipedia, 2009).
“For UFO, it’s always the audience who passes the final judgment on the quality of a song. Only when a number has proved its worth at a UFO gig, can Mogg and the rest of the band be confident that it will also stand the test of time. So the live situation always plays a decisive role in the back of the minds of UFO’s creative spirits when they start working on a new album.
“The parameters for our new tracks are that they have to work live,” he explains the selection criteria applied to the material on The Visitor, which UFO are planning to tour with extensively this year. “So clear arrangements, catchy melodies and a certain energy are required – all elements which we paid attention to when we worked on The Visitor.” “The three original band members, Phil Mogg (vocals), Andy Parker (drums) and Paul Raymond (guitar, keyboards) plus American world-class guitarist Vinnie Moore composed more than 35 tracks for their latest album (bass player and original member Pete Way is currently suffering from a liver disease and was unfortunately not available for the studio production), thirteen of which were thoroughly tested at an intensive meeting in Hannover, Germany before they were arranged in detail and rehearsed. Drums and bass parts were recorded immediately afterwards at the Area 51 Studio in Celle, while Paul Raymond contributed rhythm guitar and keyboards in London and Vinnie Moore put down additional rhythm guitar parts as well as the guitar solos in Delaware, USA.” (ufo-music.info/band.htm, 2009).
2. Why did they make this album? What was the passion or message that forced them to produce what they have? Or, simply what was their motivation for the themes they chose for this album?
After three years off, the band was ready to make a new album and try to capture the power of their live performances.
3. What message are they delivering through their lyrics and music?
Saving Me – A Zeppelinesque rocker which really kicks this album off with a bang. The intro blues guitar really welcomes the listener back in a way that makes you happy you bought this album. Mogg’s lyrics and vocals really highlight this one after the guitar intro. “Some men come from nothing; some men will not bend...” “I will pound the wild, wild wood, like brother Cane.” He does a great job of capturing the mission of this album in making it sound as live as possible. The guitar solos and licks really help make you feel like you’re at a show. Great drumming support and perfect all around arrangement make this the best song on the album. The guitar fan will love this track…goes out with a cool acoustic guitar. Great hit single.
On The Waterfront – More of that live experience. “Whooo” at the beginning and then “ever the dreamer babe…” great follow – up with a good organ support. “Out on the waterline skippin’ stones to the sea…” Happy go lucky kinda fun song. “Down on the waterfront, just you and me.” Sitting back with your baby and enjoying the ocean song. Great guitar solo in the middle and just a fun kick back and relaxing song.
Hell Driver – “Now picture this, here is the story…” “Hey Hell Driver looking for a midnight rider.” “My Chiquita.” Story of partying down in Mexico. More great guitar licks and you can almost feel the sensation of riding a Harley through the desert. Drum beat really gets you into the feeling of a live show.
Stop Breaking Down – Powerful heavy guitar opens this one. The great guitar lick that follows would be amazing live. “Just leave a message…” One of those someone has done someone wrong songs. She left no message and disconnected the phone. The hotel rooms on a world tour which they will be heading out on soon. Easy love and never to meet again kind of song. Very good guitar bits.
Rock Ready – Great bluesy guitar opener. Sounds like a tribute to Elvis, “Call me the King of Memphis, you can call me the Tupelo Rose…ain’t about the money, only, ain’t about the fame, it’s just the rock, there ain’t no change.” “I’m a rock n’ roll ready, I’m the driving wheel.” Yeah, a great rocker. The lyrics say it all here.
Living Proof – Nice quiet but cool beginning after so many rockers. Good change of pace, perfectly timed. “Walk this down, walk this place.” “I see sugar all over this place.” Yeah a real sultry “shake this town”, enjoying your favorite woman kinda song. “Gimme some sugar, show me the walk…gimme that sweet Southern talk.” The lyrics say it all. Very good support of guitar and the solid drums. Another one of the best songs off the album.
Can't Buy A Thrill – Strong guitar solo supported by drums starts this one. The hard life of rock n’ roll. “Cold in English winter.” “If the girls and drugs don’t get you, the liquor surely will.” “This one’s for Jodie can’t buy a thrill” “If this ole world don’t beat you, I swear on my last pill…don’t get around much…” Great guitar solo interludes which climb with intensity.
Forsaken – Slow down rhythm guitar with almost a country tinge. Bluesy love song. A ballad to top off the album. “This empty house, this empty room…” The sounds of loneliness. Great words of wisdom: “Hold her forever and just let it show.” “Hold her tightly, and don’t her go.” Take a look at your life and appreciate what you have despite the daily grind. Another standout song on the album.
Villains & Thieves – Story of a Thelma and Louise pair of ladies on the run with a suitcase full of stolen money. “Black diamond Cadillac.” Good rocker that includes some brilliant guitar solos.
Stranger in Town – Ripping echo effect guitar with support of drums and organ. Great starting riff. One of the heavier tracks on the album. “There’s a stranger in town… there’s a 357, gonna shove it...” Yeah, it’s a tough guy coming into town to plan something big. Great guitar riffs and solo to represent the power of the protagonist. Theme song for a head banger or real gangster. Going out on top with a good closer.
4. Does this music improve, change, or add to the genre? What does the listener receive from listening to the music?
It doesn’t add any new direction for gritty solid rock, but it does add another strong album to the list of gritty rock albums. Solid performance which I think will sound great live. This adds more to the cannon of hits the band will have to draw from on tour. There is another song on the extended version of the CD, which I did not get, but would like to hear.
INHO they accomplished their mission of creating songs that sound almost live and will be fun to play live. The fan base will no doubt be happy.. Not sure it will expand the base other than I am now a fan who hadn’t heard much of their music before this one.
5. Does it have longevity? Is it something a fan will like to play again and again?
Yes, I will be listening to it from time to time and I think fans will love to add these new songs to their catalog.
Rating: 8/10 – Solid performance achieving their original goal but doesn’t break new ground.
Reviewed by Prof on July 3rd, 2009