RATINGS: A = must own B = buy it C= average D = yawn F = puke

Neil Daniels – High Stakes & Dangerous Men – The UFO Story
Soundcheck Books

Rating: B

Neil Daniels continues to pump out rock bios at an amazing pace.  What makes this even more impressive is that he does it without sacrificing style.  This guy is not just typing up stuff to pump out a book…he’s researching, documenting and telling the tale in his own voice, this time taking on one of the most interesting bands out there…UFO.

This is not an easy tale to tell, as UFO has had many eras of the band, with varying degrees of success, in varying parts of the world, with varying members in the band.  Daniels takes the daunting task of telling this 40 plus year story with dozens of members and pulls it off with clarity.

The book contains interviews, both past and present, either done by the author, or done by other rock journalists, and puts it all down in black and white.  His focus here is more on the music than it is the show behind the show, which in UFO’s case is a bunch of wild stuff, including, but not limited to, drugs, booze, women and in-band fighting –even on stage.

That is not to say the author does not address these situations, as he does, but if there is one area where he failed to really dig in, it is the long term dysfunctional relationships between vocalist Phil Mogg, ex-guitarist Michael Schenker and bassist Pete Way.  Not to say Daniels should sell-out and do a ‘tell all’ tabloid style rag here, but there is much, much more dysfunction that could have been discussed.  Daniels takes the highroad in many instances, which he should be commended for, as he was writing the history of the band, not UFO’s version of The Dirt.

The most interesting sections of the tale end up being eras of the band not as well known, including the early to mid-1980s era which is detailed wonderfully in this book.  The current lineup, featuring guitarist Vinnie Moore, is well written and shows that the author is much more than just a fair-weather fan of UFO…he knows his stuff from their pre-Schenker band to the present day.

The book is most interesting for readers in the USA, where UFO were never given the proper respect they deserved.  The forward to the book was penned by That Metal Show’s Eddie Trunk, probably the biggest UFO fan in the States.  If this sucker gets his seal of approval, then you know it’s good.  UFO, despite their dysfunction, and despite their knack of screwing up at the most important aspects of their career, has an amazing cannon of tunes that need to be remembered.

UFO has proven to be influential to everyone from Metallica to Pearl Jam, and with this book Neil Daniels reminds us that, at the end of the day, it’s the music that matters most and UFO sure made some damn good music.

By Jeb Wright