Guitarists were held in such high regard during the late '70s and early '80s that many elite players were given to tantrums and notions of self-worship usually reserved only for singers and divas. And maybe no one better exemplified this six-string megalomania than German guitarist Michael Schenker, whose turbulent flights of emotional fancy had already earned him the "Mad Michael" nickname during his mercurial tenure with Brit rockers UFO. Of course, this behavior simply went into overdrive when the guitar legend launched the Michael Schenker Group with a 1980 self-titled album, which was at times as unstable as the man himself. Witness the downright weird, Jimmy Buffet-like calypso melodies that introduce "Cry for the Nations" or the absurd title bestowed upon the delicate solo guitar piece "Bijou Pleasurette." But fear not, as for the most part the album is dominated by straightforward hard rockers very much in the UFO vein. Highlights like "Looking Out from Nowhere" and "Lost Horizons" are laced with the pomp and bombast typical of the era, and storming opener "Armed and Ready" is arguably Schenker's finest solo track. Vocalist Gary Barden wisely stays out of the way, his understated style (not unlike that of UFO singer Phil Mogg) placing all emphasis where it is intended: Schenker's stunning axe work. In spite of its random quirks, the general consensus among fans holds that this remains the MSG's best work.
Michael Schenker Group, The - S/T - Used LP
VG/VG (minor wear)
Winch story: I was working at a Michigan industrial shop, and since I'd turned Ross the Rocker onto some 70s music, and he had failed to pull me into liking all his butt rock of the 1980s cassettes, and of course, our second shift boss George Felt Tip (the best boss I've ever had) had lived through the Depression and had served in World War 2 and Korea and while he liked the young Ross the Rocker, he hated his music even worse, a lot worse, and that says a lot, because I was growing really tired of it. Ross was building "The Wedge," a homemade speaker and amp system that not only filled the hatch of his hatchback, but the back seats as well, was planning for his Car Wars competition where you park your ride in the middle of Cobo Hall and crank the jams to win the prize of loudest sound system, or something like that. Anyway, his system was loud, blasted the rafters of that shop. So Ross was so excited when he's final found "a mellow song" that he thought George (and me) might like. So we stood in the shop outside his ride and waited for Ross to cue up the cassette and crank the "mellow" song. It was the song "Lost Horizons" from this MSG album, and needless to say George did not like it one bit, and told him to turn that shit off, and nobody could quite understand why Ross the Rocker thought that was a mellow song that George would like.
Mikey breaks out on his own, after splitting with UFO (who was a band before him and proved they'd be fine without him with their excellent George Martin produced Nowhere To Run LP in 1980). While the return to the more basic sound that UFO would go without Mikey was a breath of fresh air, the German axe-grinder was obviously trying to show he had something to prove with this 1980 album, the Roger Glover production helping reveal the Deep Purple influences, the Hipgnosis artwork helping pointing out that he wasn't going to stray far from his previous bands, this about exactly between this work with his UFO and the Scorpions, signature hard rock with songs like "Lost Horizons" showing heavy metal leanings, moderately progressive moments (and Richie Blackmore influences) showing in the instrumentals. If you want a taste of MSG, here's the first serving.
AllMusic Review by Eduardo Rivadavia
- Bass – Mo Foster
- Design [Cover Design], Photography – Hipgnosis (2)
- Drums – Simon Phillips
- Keyboards – Don Airey (Ozzy Osbourne, Cozy Powell, Gary Moore, Rainbow and Thin Lizzy).
- Producer – Roger Glover (Deep Purple)
- Vocals – Gary Barden
- Written-By – Gary Barden (tracks: A1 to A3, A5, B2 to B4)