The Monkey Puzzle

Vinnie Moore continues to live the dream of every chops-seeking guitarist who came of age in the late-’70s by playing, writing, and burning with UFO. Filling the huge (if somewhat dysfunctional) shoes of Michael Schenker is a tough gig but Moore does it with style and balls. His breakdown in “Some Other Guy” is a crushing combination of power chords and blinding shred. Moore displays deft dynamics with the ringing clean tones in “Who’s Fooling Who” before launching into yet another great solo. Throughout Monkey Puzzle he exhibits spotless technique, impeccable timing, and great tone, but Moore has a depth to his playing that a lot of shredders who followed him lack. It’s as if he has rolled his 6-string shopping cart down the baddest supermarket aisle in the world and has stocked it with some Van Halen bombast, a little Albert Lee-inspired hot rod country, some Jeff Beck lyricism, and a healthy dose of Di Meola picking to create his righteous guitar stew. This record is a great addition to the UFO catalog and a must have for fans of tuneful shred. (SPV.) —Matt Blackett