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MICHAEL SCHENKER FEST Resurrection

By Peter Atkinson, Contributor
Friday, March 2, 2018 @ 12:05 AM


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MICHAEL SCHENKER FEST
Resurrection

Nuclear Blast Records




Guitar wunderkind – now elder statesmen – Michael Schenker truly brings his career full-circle with the first, and perhaps only, outing by his new MICHAEL SCHENKER FEST project. After teaming recently with former SCORPIONS bandmates drummer Herman Rarebell and bassist Francis Bucholz – and for a stretch UFO bassist Pete Way – in MICHAEL SCHENKER'S TEMPLE OF ROCK, he has reconvened a gaggle of his early era MICHAEL SCHENKER GROUP alumni and turned the “group” into a “fest”.

Joining him are bassist Chris Glen and drummer Ted McKenna, along with MSG's first three vocalists – Gary Barden, Graham Bonnet and Robin McAuley – with singer Doogie White carrying over from the TEMPLE OF ROCK. Thus Resurrection is an apt title for the MICHAEL SCHENKER FEST debut, even if the biblical connotations are laid on a bit thick throughout – from tracks like “Take Me To The Church” to the instrumental “Salvation” and, of course, “The Last Supper”, which is depicted in the cover artwork as Schenker and his “disciples” gather around his signature black and white Flying V.

That said, Resurrection is an inspired work that manages to make equitable use of its cast of characters and play to their strengths – not to mention elicit good performances, despite the material being a predictably mixed bag. Each of the vocalists get their chance to shine here — with White singing lead on three tunes and the others getting two a piece. A couple tracks, the clunky “Warrior” and the stirring finale “The Last Supper”, feature all four taking turns on lead and then joining together for massive choruses.

And Schenker, who is unusually generous as guitar heroes go with the space he provides the vocalists here – a trait he's demonstrated since going out on his own 40 years ago – yields the spotlight to METALLICA's Kirk Hammett during the solo tradeoffs on the rousing opener “Heart And Soul”. Longtime second guitarist/keyboardist Wayne Findlay – whose place is taken by another Schenker alum, Steve Mann, in the FEST – makes a guest appearance as well.

Indeed, Resurrection is much more a celebration of brotherhood and musical camaraderie than a mere platform for Schenker’s six-string athletics – which is saying something, since these guys are all “ex-members”, and some left rather messily, most infamously Bonnet after his disastrous first gig with MSG in 1982. But time heals, and all that, and the chemistry here seems pretty genuine all the way through. There is an ever-present joyfulness here, even on more somber numbers like the bluesy “Night Moods” or “The Last Supper”, that is hard to resist.

And while Schenker’s guitar work is as lithe and supple as ever here, the onus is on the songs themselves and the team spirit they exude, from the barroom boogie of the Barden-fronted “Messin' Around” and the bluesy swagger of “Night Moods” with Bonnet leading the way to the jaunty “Anchors Away” and reverent “Take Me To The Church” highlighting White and the speed metally “Time Knows When It’s Time” featuring McAuley. Even the instrumental “Salvation” feels understated as Schenker opts for feel over flash.

Resurrection is easily the most varied of Schenker's numerous albums. Even though its “something for everyone” mindset makes for a somewhat uneven total package, it exudes the character and personality of its participants and is in no way the dog's breakfast it easily could have been. The guitarist captured lightning in a bottle here and if Resurrection indeed turns out to be a one-off, the fact he managed to pull this off even this once makes it all the more special.

4.0 Out Of 5.0


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