UFO - A Conspiracy of Stars (SPV/Steamhammer)

Captivating stuff.
Release Date: 
22 Feb 2015 - 11:30pm

You’ve got to love UFO. Forty six years into their career, they’d have been completely entitled to be travelling on cruise control by now, trading on former glories in the moments when they’re not resting on well-deserved laurels. But no – after nearly a half century in the game, they’ve pulled out one of the finest albums of their chequered career – and that’s as much a delight to report as it is a surprise.

The band’s last couple of albums have seen them settling into a comfortable groove of blusey hard rock workouts, clearly a milieu in which vocalist Phil Mogg finds most ease for his nearly-seventy-year-old-voice; And that’s all well and good, but there were times during 2009’s The Visitor and 2012’s Seven Deadly when the listener could have been finding themselves drifting into memories of the more vital late-seventies marks of the band as the easy, languid nature of the tracks on offer merged into one another. There were some highlights to be sure, but it was all a bit easy listening at times.

So to A Conspiracy of Stars, which is, quite frankly, a revelation. Mogg hasn’t sounded this energised or powerful in years. He’s one of hard rock’s great storytellers for sure; Despite hailing from North London his tales of bad deeds and worse women in the great American heartland are never less than convincing, and on this album he really gets under the skin of the songs. Tracks like The Real Deal are easily up there with the classic songs of the UFO canon, and whilst that’s largely to the credit of Mogg, it has to be said that guitarist Vinnie Moore puts in his finest performance in UFO colours to date to further boost the appeal of the material. His soloing all over the album is nothing short of nirvana; It’s almost as if, having finally decided that his place amongst the pantheon of UFO guitarists is assured, he’s decided to just go for broke on …Stars, and if that means a few passages that are eerily reminiscent of UFO alumnus Michael Schenker then so be it. Whatever his mindset during the recording sessions for this album, his playing is a joy to behold – have a listen to his splendid extended solo on Messiah of Love as proof. Eslewhere drummer Andy Parker supplies his usual no-frills backup – is there a drummer as solid as this currently plying his trade in hard rock?- whilst rhythm guitarist/keyboarder Paul Raymond and newish bassist Rob De Luca both play a full part in crafting the fulsome sound that back’s up Mogg’s storytelling with absolute professionalism and no little style.

I’ll come clean now and admit that UFO are one of my all time favourite bands, but even I was not expecting anything this good from the band in 2015 – give this record a chance… I guarantee you won’t be disappointed.