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Monday, June 25, 2012

X-UFO – 'Vol 1 – The Live Files' album review

X-UFO – 'Vol 1 – The Live Files' album review
Released through: X – Music. Release date: Available now

So many ask the question of X-UFO …, ‘What?’
Well, here’s the thing the band does contain ex-members of UFO from some point, with the one exception of bassist Rocky Newton, who in fact played in the McAuley Schenker Group, so he’s familiar with the songs.

Also present is Danny Peyronel on lead vocals and occasional keyboards - Something I think should be felt a little more present, in a lot of places here. – who played in the band on the ‘No Heavy Petting’ and ‘Live at the Roundhouse’ albums. Then there’s Laurence Archer (Stampede) who along with Clive Edwards (Wild Horses), played alongside Phil Mogg in the 90’s and recorded the ‘High Stakes and Dangerous Men’ album and the live album ‘Live In Tokyo ‘92’ later issued as part of the double set title ‘T.N.T’ with another live disc from ‘79 featuring (Michael) Schenker.

So you see, they do have a right to call themselves – For the most part, barring NewtonX-UFO, but then Michael Schenker would often throw a bunch of UFO songs into set list, depending on how he felt at the time, about his past history!

The intro tape is the sound used on Close Encounters of the Third Kind and then almost a nod to the Jaws theme music, before the introduction of, ‘Will you please welcome from England, X-UFO!’ 

The band rips it up from the start with ‘Let It Roll,’ before then giving us the track that opened the original double live ‘Strangers In The Night’ album of 1979, in ‘Natural Thing.’
They rock it up pretty well I must say, although it just seems strange to hear Danny Peyronel singing all the lead vocals.

‘Highway Lady’ next really lacks the keyboards presence and seriously, some of Danny’s vocals here, well … They sound stretched …, but he did write the song for UFO all those years ago.
Overall though, the band does sound tight.

Next from the Mogg/Archer/Edwards period is ‘Back Door Man,’ with its heavy blues like groove.
Again, Danny Peyronel's vocals take a little getting used to instead of Phil Mogg’s, but there are other areas in the live performance where it’s alright. This song does sound a little empty to be honest, during the guitar solo.

‘Can You Roll Her’ from ‘No Heavy Petting’ rocks out pretty well, again and it’s funny as back in the day, Danny was harmonizing with Phil Mogg on much of the album, but it just seems a little odd with just his vocal here.

To the 90’s period of UFO next with ‘Love Deadly Love’ and for the most part, Danny tends to echo some of Mogg’s presentation during the vocals. Also can’t help thinking hearing the song again, for the first time in ages, that it gives a nod to ‘Shoot Shoot,’ and perhaps even slightly, ‘Lonely Heart.’

Next up they throw in an M.S.G. track in ‘Armed and Ready.’ Not bad at all overall.
It’s been frequently discussed over the years by many, that Archer is a huge Schenker fan, so I’m sure he loves doing this!

I’m sorry, but I think Danny Peyronel’s voice struggles with ‘She’s The One’ next, it comes across vocally a little rough.

Then it's 'Love To Love' next, perhaps my favourite all time live UFO track - Since they typicaly don't play 'Try Me' live. - and the intro is perfect, brilliant!
Danny's vocal, well, just seems a little strange ...
It seriously misses the keyboard lead into the guitar solo, just before the halfway mark - Yes, on that I'M a purist!!! - but then as they come back in after the solo, Danny has the keyboards, playing right off the guitars just fine ... Strange he misses the other part?
The play out on the song, leads to a serious riff fest for Archer and even Peyronel throws in some solo work of his own on keys, not bad at all!

‘Only You Can Rock Me’ is next and I will say, Danny is all about audience participation, as he gets the crowd involved, right off the bat and he’s really singing it pretty well too.
The rest of the band all sound great, with harmony vocals almost up there with Queen and Danny’s does his bit on the keys and it sounds great leading into Laurence’s solo. Solid!

They wrap the set up with ‘Rock Bottom,’ starting out with Danny introducing the band and then himself just as they get into the song proper … It’s well done indeed, again remembering that it’s not Phil Mogg.

The band musically sounds very good indeed and it shows clearly here on perhaps the most respected UFO track ever, often throughout the set here, in this mix, I do think that, Rocky’s bass is louder than Laurence’s guitar.

They come back to play two more in a rousing ‘Light’s Out’ and of course, the best known UFO track out there in ‘Doctor, Doctor.’

Danny has just the right subtlety on the keys for the intro of ‘Doctor, Doctor’ and the band proceed to play it out well and at the end of the song, it’s like they turned the crowd volume up at the end, as the audience sound the loudest they have at any point during the recording, even way louder than before the band first came on at the start …

So either the mix was turned up there or clearly, these guys are putting on a great live act, I certainly enjoy listening to it.

If you’re a UFO fan, then depending on if you’re a purist or just someone that enjoys the band’s music, will obviously determine, if you’ll even consider this.

The thing is, it is clearly focused around – And rightly so … - the music that these guys played when they were in the band, so this may be the only way you’ll get to hear live recorded versions of these tracks today, unless you get lucky in tracking down ‘Live at the Roundhouse (75)’ or  ‘Live in Tokyo ‘92’.

I have to say, for the casual rock fan, maybe you're not such a purist UFO fan, so you might well just get a kick out of hearing this, no matter how you view this release, the band plays great!

Rating: 3.75 out of 5

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