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Where do I start when being given the opportunity to review a new UFO album? Formed in 1969, just 18 months after I was born, they are one of the seminal bands as far as I'm concerned and 'Obsession' (1978) is one of my all time favourite albums in music, full stop; it's an absolute masterpiece. Since Vinnie Moore became UFO's lead guitarist in 2003 they have released a handful of fabulous albums that have seen them return to the public eye and 'A Conspiracy Of Stars', their 22nd and latest studio album, is arguably the best so far with Vinnie on lead, and sees them continuing a fantastic run.

I've always felt UFO were terribly underrated as a band and, likewise, Vinnie Moore as a guitarist, who I've listened to since 1986 when he started releasing albums on the Shrapnel label. When he was announced as UFO's guitarist I was actually a little surprised, but when you consider the legacy left by Michael Schenker it was actually a very astute choice. He has reinvigorated the band and his songwriting talent has not gone unnoticed on me. I'll also add that he has really let rip on this new album with his soloing and it's fantastic. Along with original members Paul Raymond (keyboards, guitar) and Andy Parker (drums) and fairly new bass player Rob De Luca, the music on 'A Conspiracy Of Stars' is of the highest level.

No, don't fret, I haven't forgotten the main manů Phil Mogg is one of my favourite vocalists. He might not have the strongest or most powerful voice in rock and metal history (although for a man of 66 he's still rocking big time) but you know immediately when he sings and his tone and delivery are totally unique. I think he is also one of the finest lyricists this country has ever seen. I'm useless at deciphering and remembering lyrics, I always have been and it annoys me tremendously, but Mogg's lyrics educate and inspire me and, unlike most bands, are the first thing I listen to when playing any UFO album. That poetry is very much in evidence on 'Conspiracy' and you can hear every word as clear as a proverbial bell! In fact, the production and mix is a massive strong point on the album and when I saw that the one and only Chris Tsangarides was the man responsible then it was quite clear that this is a match made in heaven.

From opener 'The Killing Kind' onwards, this is a hugely enjoyable and consistent eleven songs. I have also been sent the bonus track 'King Of The Hill' which will be included on the digipak and vinyl versions and it is of equal high quality. After so many years, quite how UFO keep releasing music of this standard is utterly beyond me. Granted, there have been a fair amount of lineup changes in that time, but their ability to sound fresh, passionate and totally relevant in 2015 is not diminished at all. Like Uriah Heep, who have also released an excellent string of recent albums, I'm not sure how long UFO can continue, but I damn well hope it's for a few more years yet! UFO have announced a massive European and UK Tour to coincide with the release of 'A Conspiracy Of Stars' and I urge you to go and see them, especially if you have never had the experience of them in a live setting before, because you will be blown away. I'm off to get my Nottingham tickets now and, in the meantime, this new album will be on heavy rotation!
Review by Rick Tilley
23rd February 2015
1) The Killing Kind
2) Run Boy Run
3) Ballad of the Left Hand Gun
4) Sugar Cane
5) Devils in the Detail
6) Precious Cargo
7) The Real Deal
8) One and Only
9) Messiah of Love
10) Rolling Rolling
11) King of the Hill
"Granted, there have been a fair amount of lineup changes in that time, but their ability to sound fresh, passionate and totally relevant in 2015 is not diminished at all."