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Schenker, Michael, Group: Tales of Rock 'N' Roll

The enigmatic German Mad Axe man Michael Schenker!! In 1979, I was a wee lad of 12 years old when I came across the path of one UFO Strangers in the Nigh album. This album (along with Van Halen's VH II ) would undoubtedly change my life. I had no idea who played guitar on this album, but once opening the gatefold, double LP cover, and seeing that man with the Flying V and the long blond hair, I was soon to find out. The solo to "Lights Out" was all it took for me to dive head first into anything and everything, Michael Schenker. I grew up at the right time to be able to follow Schenker's entire solo career and that brings me to his new CD,Tales Of Rock 'N' Roll (Locomotive Records).

This CD is a celebration of Michael Schenker's 25 year solo artist career and the many, many line ups of the famed Michael Schenker Group. That includes 47, YES, 47 albums recorded with Scorpions, UFO and various MSG versions to his credit. On this CD is every singer that has recorded with MSG over years. Featuring Gary Barden, the one & only Graham Bonnet, Robin McAuley, Kelly Keeling, Leif Sundin, Chris Logan and Jari Tiura. Holding down the rhythm fort on this special recording are legendary UFO bassist Pete Way & Racer X vocalist/Former Badlands (Jake E.Lee) drummer Jeff Martin. There are 19 tracks on this CD, 13 of which vocals are provided by the latest former MSG singer, Jari Tiura. Every era of MSG is covered. I can't remember anyone pulling off an idea like this!

Mr. Schenker in my opinion, is the finest Hard Rock Lead guitarist in history. Always smooth, dynamic and fiery. It is no wonder that Marshall Amplification built and designed their ultra famous JCM 800 series amps to the specs of Schenker's UFO era Marshall amps! And the lead guitar work on this record is no different. Schenker has long said that the song was a vehicle for his lead playing and the 19 leads on this CD are true evidence of that. The tone, the majesty of the riff and his complete ability to be able to make any song his own, has been Schenker trademarks for over 30 years. There have been many disciples that have come from the school of Schenker, but there is only one. Take a listen to any track on this CD, and instantly the "Schenker-isms" just jump out at you. Schenker is a true gem of an era gone by and that I hope is never overlooked.

All of the material is new on this CD and it is very cool to hear original MSG singer, Gary Barden and his direct replacement, Graham Bonnet, fronting a couple of songs with Schenker. This alone is worth the price of the CD for any "old school" MSG fan. The songs themselves favor the style of newer MSG CD's of late, more than that of the "classic" MSG, but let's be honest, it's all about the guitar work. Not to say that the songs aren't strong, they are. This is probably the best batch of songs from MSG in years! The occasion of the project, no doubt was a much needed fuel on the songwriting fire. All vocalists on this project put their stamp on the tracks that they are featured on, as well as the great backing band of Mr. Way & Jeff Martin. A very solid effort all around.

This all star assembly of musicians is part of a unique idea that seemed hardly possible to pull of. 25 years of different band members, albums, touring and all of the craziness that surround Schenker, it is truly remarkable that his career has been so long and successful. Michael Schenker's timeless, melodic lead guitar work has inspired countless of guitarists over the past 3 decades. From the earliest Scorpions records, to the ground breaking hard rock of UFO, to the legendary solo material, Michael Schenker is a true guitar hero. Of all of the "Euro Metal" guitar players, Schenker has retained his influence as well as his mystique. For any MSG/Michael Schenker fan, this CD is worth the money. Schenker's awe inspiring riffing, heroic soloing and just flat out magical guitar tone are what have made up his entire career. Almost anyone that plays a Flying V owes Schenker some sort of debt. That kid that played "Light's Out" 11 times in row in 1979, still gets chills from Schenker's playing, whether it be the old stuff or the new. Long live the Mad Axe Man!!

Track Listing
  1. The Ride
  2. Setting Sun
  3. Angel Of Avalon
  4. Dreams Inside
  5. Dust To Dust
  6. Voice Of My Heart
  7. Journey Man
  8. Big Deal
  9. St. Ann
  10. Shadow Lady
  11. Love Trade
  12. Human Child
  13. Bitter Sweet
  14. Blind Alley
  15. Freedom
  16. Life Vacation
  17. Rock 'n' Roll
  18. Tell A Story
  19. Life Goes On

Added: October 30th 2006
Reviewer: Butch Jones
Related Link: MSG Website
Hits: 3754
Language: english

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» SoT Staff Roundtable Reviews:

Schenker, Michael, Group: Tales of Rock 'N' Roll
Posted by Pete Pardo, SoT Staff Writer on 2006-10-30 19:37:55
My Score:

Michael Schenker has had so many ups and downs in his career (and life for that matter) that you could literally write a book about it all. Though he has recorded some of the most sensational guitar work ever in rock on albums by UFO, the Scorpions, and the Michael Schenker Group, he's also been involved in his share of flops as well (Contraband anyone?). Tales of Rock 'N' Roll is meant to be a celebration of his career with MSG, and featuring 19 songs (a tad much perhaps?) and many of the singers who have fronted the band over the years taking part in the project, the album should be reason for Schenker fans to celebrate.

For the most part, the CD lives up to its billing, and honestly, it contains Schenker's best playing in years. Fans of his lightning quick fills and crunchy riffs from the early UFO days will be in their glory here, as the mad-axeman offers up plenty of that busy style throughout the songs here, as well as an abundant amount of virtuoso guitar solos. As for the songs themselves, there are more than a fair share of decent pieces, and many segue into each other pretty seamlessly, which under normal circumstances would not be a good thing but the constantly changing vocalist pattern keeps things interesting. Check out Jari Tiura's Dio-ish vocals on the heavy "Dust to Dust" and "Voice of My Heart", two pieces that have an almost Sabbath type feel to them with doomy guitar riffs and Schenker's nimble, melodic solos. Fans of the early 80's material will have a blast hearing Gary Barden on "Life Vacation", a bouncy commercial rocker, and Graham Bonnet firing off his still powerful pipes on the raging funk metal of "Rock 'n' Roll". Robin McAuley drops in for "Tell a Story", a great melodic metal piece featuring his soaring vocals and Schenker's memorable riffs and rumbling solos.

If anything, Tales of Rock 'N' Roll suffers from too much material, as with 19 songs many of them start to sound alike after a while. This release would have been better served if Schenker would have kept it to perhaps 12 or 13 tracks, and saved the rest for a follow-up. Regardless, there's still plenty of quality Schenker here, and he shows throughout why he has long been respected and regarded as one of the greats of all time.

» Reader Comments:

Schenker, Michael, Group: Tales of Rock 'N' Roll
Posted by great review finally on 2006-09-29 20:34:16
My Score:

this is the best review ive seen yet. most reviews say something thats not quite accurate. this is one of the essential albums for any guitar listener. there is classic obsession type guitar (love trade) and on other tracks. check that hypnotic riffs on ''dreams inside''.angel of avalon is the closest anyone has come to an ''immigrant song'' style atmosphere. the ride has a series of guitar fills that rank with schenker's best. if you like that ''let it roll'' type short fills , this is just as good. im still listening al the time to this , it has so much on it. im beginning to like this seamless songs together type of thing , it almost seems like the proper way to arrange an album now! but whatever , this is proven talent. also check recent ufo and instrumental albums. they are all essential music listening...

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