UFO The Monkey Puzzle
CD Review by Paul "Zombie" Kloiber




April 2008
T rack listing:

Hard Being Me
Heavenly Body
Some Other Guy
Who's Fooling Who
Black and Blue
Drink Too Much
World Cruise
Down by the River
Goodbye to You
Rolling Man
Kingston Town

Label: Steamhammer/SPV
Released date:
September 26, 2006

Ok, Ok, I know, this CD has been out for a year and a half. Quite frankly I don't know why I missed it. I have always been a UFO fan and have seen several of their tours. But like most things in my crazy life, this one just managed to find its way in. And I must say, better late than never. I got the newest UFO CD at the concert and I am so glad I did.

Now as any die hard rocker knows UFO has been around for a very long time (1971) and they have made some seriously great music. Albums like "No Heavy Petting" "Lights Out" and the live masterpiece "Strangers In The Night" have cemented their place in rock history. Their latest effort "The Monkey Puzzle" stands on its own and is as good as they have ever been.

From the opening track "Hard Being Me" they come out rough and ready with a driving sound that is pure UFO. Phil Mogg's vocals are excellent and unmistakable. The backbone of Pete Way's bass and Andy Parker's drums make a formidable wall of sound. This coupled with Vinnie Moore's prowess on the guitar and Paul Raymond's keyboard and guitar backing make it a stand out, worthy of some serious airplay. Next up is "Heavenly Body" with Parker's foot thumping time and Way's bass grinding out an undercurrent that almost sounds menacing below Moore's razor edged fretwork. Raw and powerful this one is on the set list of the tour for a reason&it ROCKS! Then with a shift of gears we slip into "Some Other Guy" which leads off with Paul Raymond's keyboard and a bluesy harmonica part featuring Michael Roth. This one is a nonchalant little number that flows nicely with the way the CD goes. Following on the heels of that bluesier sounding number we get the acoustic tinged "Who's Foolin' Who. Again it is unmistakable UFO. This song could have easily been on any of the albums from their heyday with Moore's fingers making some of us ask "Michael Schenker who?" Picking up the pace is the next rocker "Black and Blue" with cowboy tainted lyrics it rocks with the best of them.

"Drink Too Much" is the UFO styled introspective power ballad. Its melodic lead guitar work and acoustic rhythm guitar make it catchy without seeming commercial. Even Mogg's voice which is lower and gravelly fits perfectly with the style of the song. Flowing out of that, we get the jumpin' "World Cruise". Once again the blues tainted guitar work adds a catchy boogie to that classic UFO sound. "Down By The River" takes us back to that harder rockin' sound from days past and is an instant hit with its arena rock riffs and driving drums. The next track, "Goodbye To You" has a softer yet rockin' sound to it. Its opening guitar structure reminds me of early Dream Theater and yet this sound combines elements from UFO's past and present to make it one of the best songs on the CD. I seriously wish they had done this one on the tour.

Another song I wish they had included in their touring set is the jamming powerhouse "Rollin Man" This number is in the top ten of my Ipod I play it so much now. Its bluesy, it rocks, and it mentions "The Living Dead". What else could a rocker want? Closing out the CD is "Kingston Town" with its music written by Paul Raymond. It shows what has made the core of this band so good for so long.

Without question this is a CD worth having. It has earned its place in my CD changer at home and all of the songs now reside in my Ipod. This disc shows even newcomers to the UFO sound why they have endured and have such a loyal following. It's melodic, hard, bluesy and smooth all at the same time and is pulse pounding proof that old rockers never die they just rock on harder and longer. With that said I give this CD a well deserved B+ and recommend to any fan of early UFO to check it out.

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