The Rockpalast series from MIG (Made in Germany Music) series continues with arguably its hottest entry, this 1981 concert from the Michael Schenker Group. Schenker and his band, fresh off his split with UFO and formation of his solo band and debut album, performed in Hamburg, Germany in January of that year in front of a rabid audience who were eager to see what he was going to bring to the table after years with the British hard rock legends.
Joining Schenker's band here are former Rainbow/Jeff Beck drummer Cozy Powell, ex-Sensational Alex Harvey Band bassist Chris Glen, former UFO keyboard/guitar player Paul Raymond, and vocalist Gary Barden. For many, this was to be the 'classic' MSG line-up, and on this night they proved to be a hungry act wanting to take on the world. The band plays just about the entire debut album here, in basically the same order it appeared on the LP, plus with some UFO gems sprinkled about the set. The addition of Powell, who did not appear on the debut album, really drives these tunes into even heavier directions. Tracks "Armed and Ready", "Victim of Illusion", "Feels Like a Good Thing", and "Lookin' Out From Nowhere" really rock, and rock hard, thanks to Schenker's crunchy riffage and Powell's blistering drum work. The band really locks into a heavy groove on the instrumental "Into the Arena", with Glen & Powell taking some sick unison solo spots towards the end that are jaw-dropping. Barden is a very capable front man and decent singer-check him out delivering the goods on the melodic "Cry For the Nations" or the ominous "Lost Horizons", where he shares the spotlight with Schenker, spewing out some commanding vocals while the guitar god unleashes a barrage of searing notes amidst a backdrop of dry ice. Though Barden is no Phil Mogg, he does a nice job on the UFO tracks "Natural Thing", "Doctor, Doctor", "Lights Out", and the lengthy "Rock Bottom". Schenker litterally explodes on "Rock Bottom", always his signature tune but here is playing is tremendous. In fact, throughout much of this set, Schenker is playing with a fire that rivals some of his better moments with UFO, his fingers flying about the fretboard of his Gibson Flying V guitar with reckless precision.
This is a top notch DVD of a band, had they stayed together with this line-up, could have become a major act. As history would show, Schenker shuffled the band more often than not, and never did achieve the success that was probably due to them. Sadly, drum legend Powell is no longer with us today; it would have been nice to see him re-unite with Schenker and Barden on their recent world tour, but that was not to be. At least this wonderful document of their time together is available to cherish for years to come. 64 minutes of prime MSG-check it out.
'Armed And Ready'
'Cry For The Nations'
'Victim Of Illusions'
'Feels Like A Good Thing'
'Into The Arena'
'Lookin' Out From Nowhere'