MICHAEL SCHENKER FEST - Resurrection
February 16, 2018, 10 months ago
Fresh on the heels of successful reunion tour in Japan and Europe (with North American dates scheduled for early 2018), the former Scorpions/UFO guitarist decided to record a studio album with old singers Gary Barden, Graham Bonnet and Robin McAuley, as well as Temple Of Rock mainstay Doogie White. ‘80s MSG bandmates Chris Glen (bass) and Ted McKenna (drums) are also on board.
The clickety-clack, double bass drums driven “Heart And Soul” (not the obnoxious ditty that kids first learn to play on the piano) sees Schenker speeding alongside Metallica's Kirk Hammett. Mid-tempo “Warrior” is more in keeping with the back catalog and is the first of two (alongside “Last Supper” closer) that features the entire trio of former singers. Speaking of the Last Supper, the album artwork is a play on Michelangelo's famous Biblical painting. Each vocalist gets a verse and then there's a titular gang chorus. Liturgical organ introduces the galloping “Take Me To The Church”, White the lone vocal star. He also gets the darker/heavier “Anchors Away”. Only one tune exceeds five minutes, although a quarter of the dozen fail to crack four minutes. Regardless of a song's structure or pacing, there's a restrained guitar solo somewhere in its midst. The only time Herr Schenker truly shows off is on the 3:38 “Salvation” instrumental, situated in the final quarter of the disc.
Unlike the recent live outing, where he was afforded just three songs alone in front of the mic (over the course of two CDs), here Bonnet gets a pair of showcases. “Night Moods” is a softer, ahem “moody” number, none too far afield of the vintage “Desert Song”. A livelier “Everest” is instantly recognizable as the flat-top, eyeglasses and tie wearing frontman. Although almost a decade younger than 70 year old Bonnet, Gary Barden's voice hasn't aged as well, as witnessed on the Japanese double live opus, as well as firsthand concert experience, last summer, in Germany. The sophomoric simplicity of “Messin Around” is embarrassing. On the other hand, “Livin' A Life Worth Livin” strikes the right vibe, very reminiscent of his initial time with the blond guitarist and on this one, they give him some backing help.
A rapid run up the scales opens a faster “Time Knows When It's Time”, McAuley at the mic. The “younger” studs getting the speedier material. Truthfully doubt there's anyone under the age of 40 that has any interest in this project. There's nothing on this record that will supplant the three decades' old repertoire that fans will be coming to see/hear, on tour, but if that's the price to pay for Schenker fest on these shores, I'm all in.