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Non-Prog CD Reviews

Michael Schenker

Tales of Rock N Roll

Review by Greg Olma

This is a difficult album for me to review. I have been a fan of Michael Schenker’s since 1979 when I first heard UFO’s Obsession. He has always made interesting records and I like all of them to different degrees. Assault Attack is just a must have and would be included in my “desert island” list. After 10 listens, I am not sure if Michael has created a great CD or just a good one. If you are looking for songs, look elsewhere. This CD has to be listened to in its entirety to be even remotely appreciated. The pieces of music flow together (no 2 second gaps) creating what seems like one long song but there is no common underling theme. To make things even harder to follow, Michael has utilized the vocal talents of all the previous singers in MSG along while adding a new one (who, by the way, sounds great). One thing is for sure - there is plenty of quality guitar work that raises this record well above the average marks. The names in the parenthesis are the names of the previous MSG vocalists that are featured on the track.

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2006 Volume 5 at lulu.com/strangesound.

Track by Track Review
The Ride

This CD starts off with a familiar ruff that sounds like latter day Schenker output. The chorus has a very Scorpions feel and Michael adds a nice guitar solo right before it goes into the next cut.
Setting Sun

Although the chorus sounds like old MSG, the riffing is more modern Schenker. This is also one of the longer pieces on the disc. The new singer fits in nicely and helps this track along with a catchy chorus. Schenker is master at his craft and it is proven here. The guitar solo fits the song perfectly without over playing it. Tacked onto the end is a weird bluesy outro.
Angel of Avalon (Lief Sundlin)

This could have been a great UFO track. Lief Sundin puts in an impressive vocal performance. It’s a shame that he only gets a little less that 2 ½ minutes to showcase his vocal abilities. The cut needs to be longer and has the feeling of being half finished.
Dreams Inside (Chris Logan)

Chris Logan puts in a good performance on this tune that could have been on any of the last few Schenker releases. Although the chorus is catchy, the song is just OK.
Dust to Dust

That signature Schenker sound is absent from this cut until the end of the guitar solo. It is a good song and I’m not quite sure if I like it. I’m glad Michael is stretching past his “sound” but that is what I like about his music. If this was not on this album, I would never know it was a Michael Schenker song.
Voice of My Heart

Now this is more like it. This cut sounds like old MSG material and feels a bit like “Let Sleeping Dogs Lie.” The vocal/lyrics sound forced, like they don’t quite fit the song. The riffing is top notch but the “not ready” tag has to be put on this one. It is almost half a song.
Journey Man

This has a modern Schenker sound. It is a mid paced rocker that is not one of the better tracks. It also contains the most un-Schenker guitar solo on the whole CD.
Big Deals (False Alarms) (Kelly Keeling)

Kelly Keeling does an admirable job on this cut. Cool riffing starts off the track and chorus is catchy as hell. Wayne Findlay and Michael trade off keyboard and guitar riffs in a manner that is similar to what Rainbow used to do so well.
St. Ann

The band is so much better than this. This is a throw away piece that goes nowhere. I don’t know if they were trying to be clever or what but the chorus sounds like “Looking For Satan.”
Shadow Lady

This is a faced paced rocker that sounds like Scorpions with a dash of Yngwie thrown in. I wish some of these cuts were given the proper song treatment. This is another track that is way too short and suffers for it.
Love Trade

Michael starts of this piece with some really good lead work. The singer sounds a lot like David Coverdale. My review copy does not have the band member information. There is a great, moody bridge in the middle that I wish was revisited more than just once. The problem I have with this track is the boring chorus. The singer keeps singing “Love Trade;” nothing more. It reminds me of the Blaze-era Iron Maiden. It is just not very creative.
Human Child

The pacing of this track is a refreshing change. Up until this point, the CD was sounding a bit one dimensional. It has a Scorpions sound that is strongest during the chorus. I just wish this cut was longer.
Bitter Sweet

Aside from the solo, this is just average. It is a mid paced rocker that goes nowhere. It’s a shame that a song like this gets more air time than some of the other better tracks like the next one.
Blind Alley

I wish this tune was longer because this is by far the best track on the CD. It is catchy as hell and will have you humming it all day. Michael shows us why he is considered one of the best guitarists around. He plays a solo that fits perfectly. So many guitarists play over a cut, when what is really needed is a solo that plays within the song; not over it. This track should have been explored more extensively and extended to “real” song length.
Freedom

This is the darkest cut on the CD. Clocking in at just under 4 minutes, this is the longest tune on this odd record. Michael adds a little Middle Eastern flavor into the lead work. Since it was given the full song treatment, it shows by being one of the better pieces on offer here.
Life Vacation (Gary Barden)

Gary Barden has not changed a bit. He sounds just like he did in 1983. I just wish he sang one of the other tracks because this is not a very good song. There is some honky-tonk piano added in the guitar solo. This is not one of the better cuts and I was really looking forward to hearing what Gary and Michael could come up with.
Rock N Roll (Graham Bonnet)

Although Graham Bonnet sounds a little harsh on this track, I still love his voice. I wish this collaboration would work for a whole album (and tour). I may one of the few people that think Assault Attack is the best MSG record but tracks like this only give me more ammunition towards the non-believers. This is one of the better songs on the record.
Tell A Story (Robin McAuley)

This is also a great tune. Robin sounds just as good as he did first time around. This could have easily come off of Perfect Timing. Even though this is commercial sounding, that is what McAuley Schenker Group did best.
Life Goes On

I have no idea why this piece was added. It sounds a lot like “God Gave Rock ‘n Roll To You” and I don’t mean that as a compliment. For a guitarist that has given us “Into The Arena” and “Captain Nemo,” this instrumental is a joke. It really goes nowhere.
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