Albums Of The Year So Far (pt.2): Featuring The Soundtrack Of Our Lives, Captain Black Beard, Drought, St. Prostitute and more…
2. UFO – Seven Deadly (SPV/Steamhammer)
Surprise, surprise. UFO’s first studio album since 2009’s The Visitor is bursting with creativity and athleticism. It’s like someone has laced the veteran band’s Harvey’s Bristol Cream with a performance-enhancing drug and fitted their Motability tourbus with twin turbochargers. It ain’t feeble, it’s positively febrile.
Frontman Phil Mogg, in particular, is at the top of his game. Not only does he crave simian companionship (listen to Wonderland for proof), he carries Seven Deadly with his emotion and passion. His singing has all the vim and vigour it had on Strangers In The Night, UFO’s legendary/incendiary 1979 live album; maybe even more. His lyrics remain as erudite and evocative as anything Mellencamp, say, has ever written. (Try “She’s a broken arrow, won’t fly true” for starters.)
The album begins in frantic fashion with Mexican mash-up Fight Night before settling into a groove that’s powerful and reflective, complex and involving. Mojo Town, the third track, is a gigantic jangling blues monster that brings guitarist Vinnie Moore to the fore; you won’t believe he can play so raw. Burn Your House Down is packed full of loping menace; Angel Station builds from a gentle ballad into something sprawling and magnificent, complete with the added frisson of female backing vocals; The Last Stone Rider sounds, surprisingly, like The Doobie Brothers playing UFO’s classic Only You Can Rock Me.
In an album of numerous high spots, and tons of twists and turns, the best is left ’til last. Waving Good Bye, enhanced by Tommy Newton’s massive production job, is as mournful as it is monumental. Again, Mogg cuts to the lyrical quick when he grieves: “I’m saying goodbye for the very last time… Lost everything, but nothing was mine.” Is the song about estranged UFO bassist Pete Way? Discuss.
If this is indeed UFO’s swansong, all we can say is: what a way to go. (And by the way, where is that goddamn monkey?)