Album review: MICHAEL SCHENKER – A Decade Of The Mad Axeman

MICHAEL SCHENKER - A Decade Of The Mad Axeman

[Release date 28.01.18]

A completely mad axeman indeed, Michael Schenker is one of the world’s shining lights when it comes to rock and metal guitar. Whether with Scorpions, UFO, the Michael/McAuley Schenker Group, UFO again, solo or his own Temple Of Rock, the German guitarist has produced some of the finest hard rock and metal around.

After forming Scorpions and then jumping ship to UFO, Schenker first went solo when he formed MSG, band that featured such luminaries as vocalists Gary Barden, Robin McAuley and Graham Bonnet, drummers Ted McKenna, Simon Phillips and Cozy Powell, and bassist Chris Glen. All those bar Cozy Michael has worked with more recently, along with the likes of Don Airey, Neil Murray, brother and Scorp Rudolf Schenker, Jeff Scott Soto, Leslie West, Pete Way and Doogie White. Now that’s one hell of a line-up over the last 10 years.

Michael’s career has had its ups and downs, tempered by his battle with addictions along the way, but in the last few years there’s been a serious return to form, as documented here. It does exactly what it says on the tin. In my view it’ll never match 1982’s ‘One Night At Budokan’ but it does get pretty damn close.

The set is split between studio and live; disc one opens with 2007’s ‘I Want You’, and whatever your views of Gary Barden’s voice on stage now, it sounds great here. There’s some great sounds coming from Neil Murray and Don Airey too. Some of that era’s tracks meander slightly, but when Michael tightens the screw the guitar is nothing short of blistering. 2013’s ‘Lord Of The Lost And Lonely’ has a great riff too. ‘Bulletproof’ turns things up further, an all-out track that seriously rocks.

CD2 the live recordings features some great material. I was lucky enough to interview Michael Schenker at the 2011 High Voltage festival in London and there’s three tracks from there. The Scorp track ‘Rock You Like A Hurricane’ is one I can personally do without, nothing to do with the performance, it’s just an unnecessary track I’ve always found overrated. But the UFO classic ‘Doctor Doctor’ goes down a storm (and you can hear my whistle from the crowd too!).

More recent work has seen Michael reunite with the SAHB rhythm section of McKenna and Glen, and on stage having McAuley and Graham Bonnet share the stage with Barden to recreate some of that classic MSG material and this is worth buying the set for alone. Seriously.

Not only a best of, but a great intro or sampler to an underrated era of the Mad Axeman’s continuing journey. Well worth anyone’s money. ****

Review by Joe Geesin

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