ARTIST: Michael Schenker Group
TITLE: The Michael Schenker Group
YEAR RELEASED: 1980
CHART ACTION: #100 US, #8 UK
SINGLES: Cry for the Nations, Armed and Ready
OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW: Victim of Illusion (actually I mixed that song a TON, but I don’t know how much it was played).
LINEUP: Michael Schenker, Gary Barden, Don Airey, Mo Foster, Simon Phillips
WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: Former and infamous UFO and Scorpions axe-man deals with getting sacked (or he quit, but why quibble) by those bands the only way he can – by forming his own group. He’s a damn fine guitar player, and as a songwriter he’s a damn fine guitar player.
SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: Already known as a prima donna and a druggie, Schenker formed his own group and made his own music. First grabbing Barden (and only Barden as a true member of the group) he recorded this album with session hot shots Airey, Foster and Phillips. (Foster had played on records by disco legend Cerrone for cripes sake…)
Schenker was always known for riffs and tasteful yet rocking leads, and he keeps that up here. “Victim of Illusion” has an all-time Schenker riff, close to many of those he slung for UFO. The main issue is that the album is uneven. The ballad is…not good and the second side drags a bit. Barden wrote the lyrics and those needed a bit of help too. But you don’t really listen for poetry in this kind of music.
I believe this was kind of rushed – he recorded these tracks, then had to find a real band and go out on the road. The session guys play their parts; Phillips is always an interesting drummer. But they just played their parts for most of it. Still, this is an album for and by Michael Schenker, to that end it’s mostly successful.
NOTES & MINUTIAE: This was produced by Roger Glover, who knew a thing or two about tempestuous guitar players.
IS THERE A DELUXE VERSION: Yes, with demos and live cuts.
GRADE: B: The first side – darn good. Second side – not so much. Yet “Victim of Illusion” is so good to me I have to bump it up a bit. Excuse me, gotta play that track again!