The man needs no introduction – but I will do one anyway, because he deserves it!
Michael Schenker has been in the business of making amazing rock music for 50 years – The Scorpions, UFO, The Michael Schenker Group, Temple of Rock, and Michael Schenker Fest to name but a few incarnations of the great man and his music.
Now for his 50th anniversary, Michael has returned with MSG and given us a new album – and he is showing no signs of giving up any time soon. Is he just blowing his own trumpet – or should I say playing his own Flying V – by calling it “Immortal”? I don’t think so!
Michael has gathered together an amazing team of musicians and singers for this album, and it gives him possibly the strongest group yet. Bass player Barry Sparks (Dokken), keyboard player Steve Mann as well as the three drummers Bodo Schopf, Simon Phillips (ex-Toto) and Brian Tichy (ex-Whitesnake), and keyboard wizard extraordinaire Derek Sherinian (Dream Theater, Black Country Communion) alongside the man with the axe make for a great sound. Then add in a multitude of vocalists including Ronnie Romero, Ralf Scheepers, Joe Lynn Turner, Michael Voss, Robin McAuley and old favourite Doogie White and you have some amazing singers to belt out the songs.
The album has a great mix of tracks on there – some at breakneck speed, some more mellow, and some a mix of both! Opener and initial single, “Drilled To Kill”, throws you in at the deep end with a thumping, rapid, drum beat and some amazing vocals from Ronnie Romero. Schenker’s guitar licks sew it together as always, and there is some great playing here.
The other singles are all here of course – “After The Rain”, “Sail The Darkness”, and the re-working of “In Search of The Peace Of Mind”. This closes the album, and was the first song that Schenker wrote, at the age of 15, in his mother’s kitchen. It went on to be the first song he recorded with The Scorpions, appearing on their debut album “Lonesome Crow” in 1972. It has been re-recorded here and is an amazing version, featuring vocals by Gary Barden, Ronnie Romero, Robin McAuley and Doogie White and a killer new solo by Schenker. As he says himself, “When I listen to this new solo it is like I was expressing my whole 50-years journey. Just as I don’t know where the original lead break came from 50 years ago, now I don’t know how this answering music was created. To me, it is all perfect.”
Inbetween the singles we find a great selection of tracks, including stand-outs ”Devil’s Daughter” and “Knight Of The Dead”, making this what for me is possibly the best MSG album since 1982’s “Assault Attack”.
Michael says of making the album “I was the only one who had to take four eight-hour boat trips from England to Holland, and from there I drove to Germany to reach the recording studio during lockdown. I did it even though it meant going into quarantine for two weeks every single time. Nothing I can recommend,” he explains, “but it was absolutely essential and unavoidable so we could finish the album”. Well, I can only say that the sacrifice was most definitely worth it.
The album is available now on Nuclear Blast Records.