Michael Schenker – “Spirit On A Mission” (In-Akustik Records)
The legend of Michael Schenker lives on. A child prodigy guitarist who joined the Scorpions when he was 11 and later became UFO’s lead guitarist aged 17, Schenker’s life has been anything but casual. Later returning to the Scorpions to record on their classic “Lovedrive” album, he would eventually front his own group – MSG – that catapulted him into a guitar god status both in Europe and Japan. Inevitably the creativity and genius would take its toll several times along his career and on more than one occasion threaten to burn him out altogether, but that god given talent and love of music – which includes 43 years of song writing would somehow resurrect him – helped along by a few good friends. In recent years a reflective Schenker has come to terms with his demons and built a solid band around himself including ex Rainbow vocalist Doogie White and talented guitarist / keyboardist Wayne Findlay. With Temple Of Rock, Schenker has since been reunited with the ex Scorpions rhythm section of Francis Buchholz (bass) and Herman ‘Ze German’ Rarebell (drums) – last seen together on the recording of “Lovedrive”! Produced by Michael Voss (Bonfire, Mad Max, Casanova etc), this new album shows that Schenker is indeed on a mission: to bring the sum of his life’s journey both personally and musically to bear in creating a mutha of an album that reflects the best in the man and his past. Well, if you like classic era UFO, Scorpions and MSG then you’re in for a treat buddy! Opening with ‘Live And Let Live’ it’s back to 70s UFO with its hard but catchy rock while on ‘Rock City’ we’re back to the early 80s at the Budokan where Rarebell gives it some serious double bass drumming Cozy Powell style. Needless to say with both Buchholz and Rarebell in the band a lot of the songs lean very much towards late 70s Scorpions like on ‘Bulletproof’ or ‘Restless Breed’ which personally has made the album for me – and just to make you wonder if the Scorpions had gotten more metal instead of commercial just check out the hammering ‘Wicked’ complete with that signature sound of partially engaged wah on Schenker’s solo – straight from the vaults of UFO! Doogie White sings his ass off, no mean feat considering he sounds a little like Dio but instead of competing with Meine, Mogg, Barden and even Bonnet he tells ’em where to go and instead sings from his mighty big heart, adding to the energy and spirit of his excellent album testifying to this legendary guitarist’s comeback. In this line up of Temple Of Rock, Schenker has once again found himself a band that gives him the perfect platform to express his undoubted genius – if he can keep it together then the final chapter in his starry life is about to begin.