Michael Schenker Fest - Resurrection

Michael Schenker Fest Resurrection cover
Michael Schenker Fest
Nuclear Blast Records
Michael Schenker, guitarist extraordinaire and former wildman, has seemingly mellowed and sobered down in the past few years and was even able to build up from the ruins of his latest exit from UFO, with the Temple Of Rock vehicle, which did release a number of pretty solid albums, with Doogie White (ex-Rainbow, etc.) at the vocal helm. Now, while keeping Doogie on board, Schenker bring on board, all his former MSG vocalists, Gary Barden, Robin McAuley heck even the short-lived 82 moonlighter that Graham Bonnet, or should we call him bonner this once (as he was famously dismissed for exposing himself on stage) along with old-timers, Chris Glen on bass, Ted McKenna on drums and Steve Mann on keyboards, for what I presume is an album that is meant to be a celebration of the fast approaching 40th anniversary of the man’s solo career.
How this works is rather simple as each vocalist is given a couple of songs to show off, while all of them take turns on “Warrior” and the “Last Supper”. Obviously Schenker plays some mean guitar throughout and his longtime collaborators are one and all, doing a rather stellar job backing him up.
Opening, at the start, the spirited “Heart and Soul” features a rather tame McAuley, who seems to be kept from going overboard. Kirk Hammet of Metallica, is also featured on it and it’s pretty easy to distinguish him from Shenker, even if he’s influenced by the mad axe man, as so many others.
Initially I had my reservations about “Warrior” as trying to fit all the different vocalist and their different vocal timbres is a little bit of a challenge and at times it feels a little forced and I’m not entirely enthralled about Bonnet’s super melodramatic chorus delivery, but still it’s quite a nice song, all things considered.
“Take Me to the Church” (not to be confused with a similarly titled pop song) is a neat little rocker that features one Doogie White and has this Rainbow-ish tint about it as one might have expected, but maybe a bit more modern – think Cornerstone or Temple Of Rock’s take on Richie’s legacy.
“Night Moods” is a slower, prongier tune, with Bonnet’s typical dramatic delivery, that seems to border between lament and hysteria, but is well loved, nonetheless. The chorus and the solo tie the whole thing up, together, in a nice package.
“The Girl With the Stars in Her Eyes” is another Doogie tune that initially made me think, damn, is he going to belt out “Still I’m Sad” or something on the strength of a riff Schenker plays, only to fall back in file with the song that precedes it, as its creamier style that is more akin to Bonnet’s work. The chorus is quirky, but sort of works, but the real highlight here is the lead.
And speaking of Bonnet his second contribution “Everest” doesn’t force him to go for the absolute top of his range, making it easier on both him and the ears. It’s an interesting if not somewhat bizarre tune, with a very persistent and repetitive riff over which Bonnet just wails on. Not exactly the peak of the album, despite the name, if you excuse the pun.
Gary Barden, despite the occasional bad day that he might have on stage, still sounds pretty good on record and the first of his two contributions on “Messing Around” is a steady wee rocker, that’s probably the closest to prime time MSG.
The second song that Robin McAuley is featured of is “Time Knows When It’s Time”, a pretty quick paced number that has some pretty cool verses, but a weird bridge/chorus that I am not even sure who sings on (as it doesn’t quite sound like typical McAuley – unless he’s weirdly processed) that might throw you away a bit.
“Anchors Away” is moogy and moody in a way that seems to tip toe the tin line between TOR and Rainbow, without ever faltering to one side or the other. MS’s solo here is sheer brilliance, but for whatever reason I am not completely sold on the song.
“Salvation” is an instrumental that seems to be making all the right noises as Schenker’s guitar takes center stage.
“Living a Life Worth Living” is the second song to feature Barden, who seems to be a little tight with his vocal part, but ultimately delivers the goods in a song that harkens back to classic MSG and maybe gives a couple of winks to ze Scorpions.
“The Last Supper” comes around to close the album, with an often celebratory tone, triumphant, rocking and defiant, with the vocal duties this time better divided between the numerous singers.
Ehm, while this approach of 4 vocalists makes for a somewhat uneven album, it does seem to also cover a lot of ground. Given the circumstances, this could have been quite the cock up, if you excuse the potential pun, but Schenker seems to both cover strength in numbers, offering not one or two but four vocalists, all of them big names and you know what they say, size does matter.
Now, I won’t hold my breath for a certain Swedish cookadoo to do something similar, but “at this point in his career” (but at least he’s had one, unlike a not very successful American vocalist, who used to quote the aforementioned sentence much too often), for fear of turning blue, but it might be a good idea.
Do it like Michael, be more like the sober Michael, it seems to affect the music in all sort of good ways.