Nuclear Blast Records [Release date 02.03.18]
Most people will now be aware of the Schenker Fest project which has toured extensively over the last 18 months. The premise was to reunite his former MSG bandmates and gather the three vocalists who fronted the band during the 80’s. The live dates went down a storm with sell out shows and festival appearances across the globe. I caught the band live in Manchester at the tail end of last year and hearing the old MSG classics with the original vocalists was a great way to spend a couple of hours.
Following on from these dates a decision was made to enter the studio with the reformed unit which included Chris Glen on bass, Ted McKenna on drums, Steve Mann on guitar/ keyboards joined by Gary Barden, Graham Bonnet and Robin McAuley on vocals. Schenker also drafted in Doogie White, vocalist with his Temple Of Rock project, to give us four vocalists for the price of one, what could possibly go wrong?
As the live shows proved some of the vocalists had aged better than others both physically and vocally and the performances on Resurrection only serve to highlight this fact. Opener ‘Heart And Soul’ gets things off to a good start with McAuley on vocals and Kirk Hammett guesting on guitar. The song is built on a hard driving riff with a thumping bassline in the best MSG tradition.
‘Warrior’ follows which is the first of two tracks to feature all four vocalists taking it in turn to take the vocal lead. It is a nice idea to have all the guys involved on the one track but in reality it is a bit of mish-mash which doesn’t really work. However that is nothing compared to the other track ‘The Last Supper’ which is the weakest song on the album both in terms of vocals and actual songwriting.
The first Doogie White number ‘Take Me To The Church’ gets things back on track. A straight forward rocker with a big chorus, much like the last Temple Of Rock album ‘Spirit On A Mission’ in fact. The other two Doogie White tracks are similar with excellent vocals and singalong choruses, for me these tracks are album highlights.
Graham Bonnet has two tracks featured with varying results. ‘Night Moods’ is a rewrite of sorts of his old hit ‘Night Games’, unfortunately it is nowhere near as good. A bit of a plodding track with Bonnet’s vocal delivery sounding a bit strained.
His other track ‘Everest’ is a much better prospect and sounds like it has been hanging around from his Alcatrazz days. Chris Glen and Ted McKenna lock together on this track to create a huge bass heavy riff. The song has a slightly lower register and Bonnet sounds more in his comfort zone vocally, only the rhyming couplets in the chorus mark this one down (‘Everest, will you never rest’ I cringe every time!).
That only leaves the tracks featuring Gary Barden which, quite frankly, are poor. ‘One Night At Budokan’ is one of my favourite albums with Barden at his peak but the years have taken their toll and during the live shows he struggled through.
On the album this doesn’t really improve, even with studio tweaking. The very AC/DC like ‘Messing Around’ is his best effort with the short lyrical lines better suiting his current vocal state. It is good to see Barden back on stage and clearly enjoying himself in the process but don’t expect the same performance he turned in on the early MSG albums.
So a mixed bag then, if you go onto your download site of choice and select certain tracks you could trim it down and have a five star album. However download the full album and you get the three and a half stars awarded here.
What I can’t understand is the reason behind rushing this album out in the first place, surely adding Doogie White into the touring line up and adding songs from the excellent Temple Of Rock period would have been enough to freshen things up.
Having new material to add to the setlist at this point is unnecessary as there are plenty of songs in Schenker’s back catalogue to change things around. If they had left the recording a year or so and let everyone gel together with further touring then I think things may have sounded more cohesive and we could have had a Schenker album worthy of the legacy. ***1/2
Review by Dave Wilson
David Randall presents a weekly show on Get Ready to ROCK! Radio, Sundays at 22:00 BST (GMT+1, repeated on Mondays and Fridays), when he invites listeners to ‘Assume The Position’. This show was first broadcast on 23 August 2020.
UK Blues Broadcaster of the Year (2020) Pete Feenstra presents his weekly Rock & Blues Show on Tuesday at 19:00 ( BST, GMT+1) as part of a five hour blues rock marathon “Tuesday is Bluesday at GRTR!”. The show is repeated on Wednesdays at 22:00, Fridays at 20:00). This show was first broadcast 25 August 2020.
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