Like Saturday Night Live, UFO have had plenty of creative ups and downs over the years but have often demonstrated that one should never give up on them. The veteran hard rockers have recorded some superb albums along the way, and they have recorded some weak, lackluster albums, too. But even when they let their followers down on occasion, UFO have had a way of bouncing back and giving those followers new reasons to be optimistic. The Visitor, it turns out, is a respectable 40th anniversary present from UFO, who were formed in 1969 and remained active 40 years later in 2009. This 2009 release finds two members of the original 1969 lineup (lead singer Phil Mogg and drummer Andy Parker) joined by keyboardist/guitarist Paul Raymond (a 1976 arrival) and guitarist Vinnie Moore, who didn't come on board until the 2000s; regrettably, bassist Pete Way (another original member going back to 1969) was unable to participate due to health problems. Some Michael Schenker devotees will no doubt refuse to give this album a chance because the former Scorpions/MSG guitarist isn't on board, but truth be told, UFO made some valuable contributions to hard rock during their pre-Schenker days and continued to make them after his departure. The Visitor is perhaps a somewhat misleading title for this 42-minute CD because it has a bit of a space rock connotation despite the fact that there isn't a drop of space rock to be found here; regardless, The Visitor offers a worthwhile dose of '70s-minded hard rock -- and even though "Hell Driver," "Stranger in Town," and other bluesy offerings aren't in a class with '70s favorites like "Doctor, Doctor," "Rock Bottom," and "Lights Out," they are enjoyable nonetheless. The Visitor won't go down in history as one of UFO's essential albums, but longtime fans -- at least the ones who are open to the possibility of hearing a Schenker-less lineup -- will find it to be a solid 40th anniversary present from these hard rock survivors.
The Visitor Review
by Alex Henderson