Michael Schenker has long been a revered staple in rock and roll, but his best days were with UFO, a band that yet stands out in the annals of hard rock and metal because each member was such a dynamic driving force. We could do with a lot more UFO right now, despite the excellence of so many metal groups (Rammstein, Queensryche, Type O Negative, etc.), trust me. However, Mike decided to form MSG (The Michael Schenker Group) and lost me completely from that day forward…until recently. He seems to be reprising his UFO days and ways big time.
There's a precedent for this, and that was the great UFO reunion CD, Covenant (2000). I grabbed the deluxe edition the millisecond it emerged, 'cause too much UFO is never enough. Nonetheless, still monitoring his progress afterwards, I wasn't very impressed until scoring a DVD / CD combo issued not long ago. The title escapes me at the moment but it was impressive. The guy was back to old school, putting on a great show reprising UFO standards and infusing later material with that same hallowed vibe and lumination.
That's where this 2-CD epic picks up. Of course, the presence of stalwarts Gary Barden, Wayne Findley, Neil Murray, and the immortal Simon Phillips doesn't hurt any, either. More than ever, Schenker's leads have re-become the prose poems they used to be, beautiful in their architecture and aspect rather than the Malmsteen-esque exercises in arpeggiation that the MSG and MacAuley collaborations were. As well, his chord choices are solid and meaty, not the throwaway melodic vocal-chasers they'd become.
Thus, this twofer is a cause for celebration. There are only two UFO cuts, one of them an 11-1/2-minute blow-out of Rock Bottom, but many of the 16 remaining tracks could have fit quite nicely into Covenant. The DVD covers everything on the CDs and, of course, carries the bonus of watching the band pound out the program right before your headbanging eyes. The Inakustik label trotted it out—the same bunch that not long ago released the glorious Chris Farlowe At Rockpalast DVD and Hotel Eingang CD (and should be given a medal for doing so)—and thus be assured of the quality. MVD, thank God, has picked it up for distribution in the States, so we Yanks will be privy to the extravaganza as well as our Euro and Oriental cousins. Break out the bong, grab the leather chaps, hitch on the metal-studded jacket, and get to work, fellow bronto-stompers, 'cause there's licks aplenty to gorge on and a man's brutal moshing to be done.
CD and DVD Track Listing:
Edited by: David N. Pyles
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