Temple of Rock: Live in Europe
A review written for the Folk & Acoustic Music Exchange
Early in his career, Michael Schenker was a true guitar god. Playing his first gig at age 11 (!!!), he started a recording career at 15 as the focal point of the Scorpions, then a stint in high period UFO following the hallowed Mick Bolton. The future looked incredibly bright…but Mike turned out to be a more than a little of an Axel Rose and, between fits of pique and substance abuse, very rapidly fell from grace. Briefly rejoining the Scorps before forming MSG (the Michael Schenker Group), in-between he was invited to try out for the Rolling Stones and Aerosmith and became the first guy Ozzy Osbourne thought of after Randy Rhoads met with a tragic and untimely end. Hilariously, Ozzy backed out when Schenker started making outlandish demands, and Mike, seeing Ozzie's own problems with drugs and drink, understood it'd be his end if he ever joined, and said "Uh-uh!", and sprinted away posthaste. That's when MSG arose…
…and, frankly, that was when he lost me almost completely. Then Kevin McAuley came into the picture, and I said "Yew gotta be fuckin' kidding!". It was the last I ever bothered with Michael Schenker…or so I thought. Years later, in 2000, the way cool UFO reunion disc Covenant came out, and I was back in the fold, but only for a while. Things kinda fell to the ground after that, but, many venues later, here I was being published through FAME, and PR label guy Clint Weiler, knowing my reluctance to cover Mike's stuff said the new Temple of Rock gig (here) was a sharp change of pace, which it certainly was; then the Tokyo DVD and CDs came out (here), and once more I was hopeful. In this new Temple of Rock: Live in Europe, that hope's catapulted into the clouds 'cause this is the best thing Mike's done since the old days and even better than the Tokyo gig. He's back to being a lean and mean rock and roll machine, here joined by a number of guests, not the least of which is a couple of old Scorpions alums, Herman Rarebell and Francis Buchholz and then bro Rudolf Schenker.
One of the reasons Mike had caught on so quickly in the old days was his talent for lyrical leads and the ability to take even the most basic set of chords and make 'em sound like a gritty hard rock love poem. Not a hell of a lot of cats can do that—Buck Dharma, Mick Rogers, Mick Box, and a double handful of others—but, at his zenith, Mike had an undeniable gift, and it's resurfaced, permanently this time; that much is obvious. Listen to Cry for the Nations, and you'll understand just what I mean, but along the way, you're going to hear (and see, if'n ya cop the DVD as well) a boatload of old UFO and Scorpions favorites from a 2012 Tilburg concert and then bonus cuts from the same year's High Voltage Fest.
Doogie White carries the bulk of the vocals, putting in a good showing, but Michael Voss, appearing in the Voltage section, really kicks the laryngeal jams out, a tonal cousin halfway between White and Nazareth's Dan McCafferty. More, he pushes Schenker that extra mile, seen as soon as the solo sections of the second take on Armed and Ready crop up. The CD set's perfectly fine, but we all know how you get that added punch with visuals, and it's a kick to see Rudy jump in, as well as Pete Way and Jeff Scott Soto, not to mention all the footage of Mike going to town like a house on fire. The years have taken a toll, but, like Joe Perry and Keith Richards, the grizzled old bastard's still standing tall and showing the young'uns how it's done, and if you happen to be among the generations looking to the Boomer Era's best, then I suggest you start here and work backwards through all Mike's stuff that I've mentioned and then begin checking out those other fretbenders he rocked down the mountains with…for over 45 years! Jayzus, it's hard to believe, after nearly a half century of boozin', druggin', wenchin', skyrocket highs and center of the Earth lows, that so many of them are still bringing the house down, but they are. Tough sonsabitches, y'all, tough sonsabitches.
|LIVE IN TILBURG||LIVE AT HIGH VOLTAGE|
Edited by: David N. Pyles
Website design by David N. Pyles