Ask anyone my age what is the most important live hard rock album, and you will get a host of answers from ‘Live At Leeds’ through to ‘Live and Dangerous’ while the more discerning will also include ‘Snaz’, but any Top 10 will have within it UFO’s ‘Strangers In The Night’. It is hard to realise that the album is now more than 40 years on, but such is its impact that Iron Maiden still open their gigs with a playthrough of “Doctor Doctor”. The manic German madman with the Flying V made a massive impact, and although he left to form his own band, his impact during his time with both UFO and Scorpions in the Seventies still resonates today. It is safe to say that in the intervening years he has spent some time in the wilderness, not having the same impact as he did during his heyday, but his last two albums under the guise of Michael Schenker Fest have brought him back to people’s attention, which had led to him returning to the name he first created more than 40 years ago.
Alongside Schenker, in this formation we have bassist Barry Sparks (Dokken), keyboard player Steve Mann, plus three drummers in Bodo Schopf, Simon Phillips (ex-Toto) and Brian Tichy (ex-Whitesnake), while Derek Sherinian (Dream Theater, Black Country Communion) is also involved. In recent years he has been utilising more singers, and that is again the case here, so we have Ronnie Romero (Rainbow), Ralf Scheepers (Primal Fear), Joe Lynn Turner (ex-Deep Purple), Michael Voss (Mad Max) as well as guests Gary Barden (ex-MSG), Robin McAuley (ex-MSG) and Doogie White (ex-Rainbow, Alcatrazz). With that amount of vocal talent on show then one would expect it to be heavily oriented in that area, but what we have for the most part is the melodic hard rock one has come to expect from Michael over the years. There are a few times when he slows it down, but for the most part this is about guitar-driven rock with Michael showing no sign of his age at all. He has been in the business for some 50 years now and to celebrate, the album closes with “In Search Of The Peace Of Mind”, a song he wrote in his mother’s kitchen when he was just 15 years old, and appeared on the Scorpions’ debut ‘Lonesome Crow’ back in 1972.
This is undoubtedly one of the most complete and enjoyable MSG albums I have heard since ‘Assault Attack’, with solid material, great vocals, and of course the man himself in the middle of it all. For anyone who remembers the old days (I still have the single of “Armed and Ready” I purchased back in 1980), then this is a step back in time combined with maturity and great performances.