Michael Schenker is a changed man. With a career stretching back to 1969, the German guitar virtuoso is an artist for whom the term ‘volatile’ has sometimes seemed invented. Recorded with singers and musicians associated with Michael in previous decades, the aptly-titled »Resurrection« sees Schenker embracing his past to build something fresh and exciting.
In 2016, Schenker put together MICHAEL SCHENKER FEST, a tour featuring formerMICHAEL SCHENKER GROUP vocalists Gary Barden and Graham Bonnet, plusRobin McAuley of the McAULEY SCHENKER GROUP. Instrumental back-up was provided by former M.S.G. bass player Chris Glen and drummer Ted McKenna, plus guitarist/keyboard player Steve Mann, also of the McAULEY SCHENKER GROUP. These shows were so rapturously received by audiences across Japan and Europe that it seemed only logical for the protagonists to make new music together. The decision to bring in Doogie White, singer of Schenker’s TEMPLE OF ROCK, adds even more substance to Michael’s assembly.
Previewed by the single 'Warrior' on December 1st, »Resurrection« took around five months to piece together, using multiple studios on both sides of the Atlantic.METALLICA guitarist Kirk Hammett appears on the album’s opening track 'Heart And Soul'.
“Kirk is a fan [of mine], that’s well known, but he has also become a friend,” explainsSchenker. Hammett’s parts were recorded by the album’s co-producer Michael Voss-Schoen at the METALLICA man’s studio in Hawaii. Voss-Schoen brought back photos of the session. “Kirk looks so happy and like a young teenager in his casual Hawaiian outfit,” Michael laughs fondly.
From the light and shade of 'Warrior' to the pacy 'Heart And Soul' via the commercial'Night Moods' and 'Time Knows When It’s Time' and Michael’s instrumental piece'Salvation', »Resurrection« is a fine, varied album. “It is snappy and melodic, but it’s also dramatic and fast - all of the elements are there,” states Schenker enthusiastically.
Schenker’s original plan was for Barden, Bonnet, White and McAuley to record a few tracks with all vocalists singing together, rather than just have each vocalist sing three songs each and no more. “That would have not been exciting enough,” Schenker adds. Eventually two tracks - 'Warrior' and 'The Last Supper' - required all four vocalists together as well as a variety of backing vocals combinations. Though it was impossible to get everyone together at times, on occasion many of the players and singers shared room space and the resulting sense of fun and camaraderie is only too apparent.
Indeed, Schenker clearly enjoyed making this record with his faithful Lieutenant Voss-Schoen, who he says, “went the extra mile time after time” (Voss-Schoen also co-wrote five of the album’s songs and contributed backing vocals).
One of the best elements of »Resurrection« is the suitability for each singer to their chosen song, also the blend of the voices when performing together. “Each has something that the others don’t,” says Schenker.
All of the album’s participants appear in the album’s tongue-in-cheek cover art, a biblical-style concept. Originally Michael wanted to call the album »Michael Schenker Fest In The Studio« with an album cover showing a big banquet table in a recording studio, waitresses with big bosoms, pints of beer and chunks of lamb in medieval style. The thought occurred to Schenker at the very start of the record and gathered pace when Michael Voss-Schoen brought in a song called 'The Last Supper', though in the end they opted for an all-male gathering around a table featuring nothing more thanMichael’s trademark black and white Flying V guitar.
Clearly, these are not the words of a man who takes himself too seriously and over the past decade the change in Schenker’s persona has been marked. It all began in 2008 with the sudden lifting of the crippling stage-fright that he had been plagued by for all of his life. On the MICHAEL SCHENKER FEST dates, fans were astonished thatSchenker was suddenly laughing and joking from the stage.
“In 2008 I started to want to be onstage, and now I even speak,” Michael explains.“After I left UFO and the SCORPIONS I decided that I only wanted to do small stuff - I needed to be comfortable. It didn’t work out that way because Peter Mensch [his manager of the era] took me to [audition for] AEROSMITH, and then Ozzy Osbourne wanted me to join his band.”
Neither of these things happened, and in 1990 Schenker moved to Arizona to scale down his operation and get his head together. Along the autobahn there were numerous adventures - as he would admit, not all of them positive. And out of the blue the stage-fright vanished.
“I couldn’t believe it,” he exclaims excitedly. “From there onwards my life went forward at light speed.”
At first an über-cautious Schenker rebuffed an approach to join the roster of NuclearBlast Records. But the German-based label was persistent and finally Michael saw sense in their proposals.
“Now my state of mind is very different,” Michael admits. “I had been out of the machine for so long, but nothing scares me anymore. From here onwards I’m just going to go for it. The next MICHAEL SCHENKER FEST tour in America, which also features Doogie, begins on March 6th. My concerts are already booking ahead until 2019. Maybe in the future we could call it THE ULTIMATE MICHAEL SCHENKER FEST and have Klaus [Meine of the SCORPIONS] and [UFO’s] Phil Mogg sing on stage with us or even on an album? Right now that seems far-fetched but in the future, who knows? Time is running out very fast; let’s make the most of everybody being alive.”
Make no mistake - it’s time for Michael Schenker to start doing big things again.»Resurrection« is just the start.
»Resurrection« is released via Nuclear Blast Records on March 2nd.
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