Released: 2010, SPV
As one of the ‘Senior Staff’ (aka old farts) on the Metal-Rules.com site I have a certain soft-spot for 70’s and 80’s melodic hard rock and bands that were the soundtrack of my youth. UFO hasn’t got much attention on this site over the years (with only 1 review to date and that was by yours truly) and understandably so. They don’t quite fit the profile despite having 20 studio albums over the past 40 years. In addition, we don’t normally review compilations, collections etc as they are essentially label/industry re-hash of previously released material.
However, indulge me for a moment if you will, as I share my thoughts on this recent UFO collection. Perhaps as a reader you are one of those older guys (or girls!) who recalls UFO from the ‘glory days’ and have lost track of them. Or perhaps you are a younger reader who have not heard much by the band but have seen the name floating around for years. Or maybe you are a full-on fan like me. Either way, let’s gather ‘round and have a look at this album.
Assuming for just a moment you haven’t followed UFO for a while. Between 2000 and 2010 the band has put out five studio albums of material and a couple of live platters and that is what comprises this collection, hence the rather uninspired title. Better than calling it, ‘Greatest Hits’, I suppose.
Is this compilation really necessary? Well, with over a dozen UFO collections on the market at first glance you might say it is not necessary, however, this is really the only collection that covers the recent years. So in that sense it’s useful.
Technically, this album is a bit flawed in it’s execution and presentation. It’s not really a good representation of the past decade of the bands material. There are four cuts from YOU ARE HERE (2004), three cuts from THE MONKEY PUZZLE (2006) and three cuts from THE VISITOR (2009). That means no songs from COVENANT (2000) or SHARKS (2002). There are no excuses why those two albums are not represented here, as they are both on SPV. Why skip two entire albums? Probably because Schenker played guitar on those ones and it could be licensing issues. You could safely re-title this ‘Best Of The Half-Decade 2004-2009’. The remaining six songs are live songs from the most excellent Double Live album from 2005 called SHOWTIME.
So what does all this mean? No new material! I mean, couldn’t the label throw us a bone…something…anything…a demo, a rare cut, a cover tune, heaven forbid, an unreleased track? Why should I, as a fan, why would I possibly want to buy this collection when I have all the songs on it already? OK. We have established that for a tried and true UFO fan, this album is useless. What about everyone else?
Maybe you are curious about UFO but don’t want to run out and buy the last five studio albums. This is a great place to start. The song selection is good, I probably would have picked the same 10 songs from the studio releases myself. The best of the best. The live material highlights the older classics. Good call.
By now you may have noticed I haven’t said a single word about the music in this review. As mentioned earlier we usually don’t bother with these types of releases but this is more of a public service announcement. So why bother writing a review at all? Well, frankly UFO are a truly awesome band and deserve all the support and fans they can get.
UFO have always maintained that integral quality of classy, British, Melodic Hard Rock and (early) Metal. Much like their peers in Rainbow, Whitesnake or even ‘newer’ bands like Ten or Thunder, UFO still to this very day provide the classic Hard Rock sound that inspired so many bands in the past. Smooth vocals, crunching guitar, elegant soloing, well-constructed songs, laid-back yet confident delivery, UFO make it sound easy.
Speaking strictly as an industry observer, this collection should score a mere one out of five. It could have been so much more. However, it is not void of merit or lacking in value and as a fan of the music, the songs, and the band I would recommend this to anyone. Yes, my rating is way too high for a simple collection of previously available material but the strength of the songs and the quality and history of the band demand that I recommend THE BEST OF A DECADE to everyone. UFO rules.