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Michael Schenker

Michael Schenker's Temple of Rock - Bridge The Gap

Review by Mike Korn

I have a shocking confession to make. I have never really been a huge Michael Schenker fanuntil now. I've enjoyed his work and certain songs of his have emerged as true classics, but until 2014, I never really enjoyed an entire album as much as Bridge the Gap. 

This is completely timeless heavy rock played with passion, melody and conviction. It's as tight as a drum and seems to come from some primal realm of rock music where shredding guitarists, vocalists with magnificent pipes and drummers who play without digital assistance never went out of style. I think a lot of the Dio period of Rainbow when I listen to this record, but also of mid-period Scorpions and Schenker's own early MSG work.

What a great band Schenker has assembled for his Temple of Rock. Drummer Herman Rarebell and bassist Francis Bucholz are old comrades from The Scorpions and they've never sounded more locked in and powerful. The keyboardist and second guitarist is a remarkably talented guy named Wayne Findlay who compliments Schenker perfectly. And the voice of the Temple is the man who seems to be the go-to guy when it comes to melodic rock singing currently, Doogie White. White's always been an impressive singer, but on Bridge the Gap he jumps to a higher level yet. The way these guys gel on this record is phenomenal. I can't remember any past Schenker solo effort that sounded as good as this. Schenker says this record is designed to "bridge the gap" between the great rock and metal of the 70's and the modern age. That mission is accomplished with flying colors. It sure made a believer out of me. Grab this and bow in worship.

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2014  Volume 1 at lulu.com/strangesound.

Track by Track Review
Neptune Rising / Where the Wild Winds Blow

Neptune Rising is a bombastic intro where Schenker cuts loose with just the merest hint of his wild licks. It bleeds right into the main track proper, which is surprisingly heavy and thick. The chorus on this is just unbelievable and sinks into your mind in the fashion of Rainbow's "Stargazer" and "Man on the Silver Mountain. Vocalist Doogie White is in the tradition of great singers like Gillan, Coverdale, Dio and Graham Bonnett. Schenker's guitar work is excellent but in no way overpowers the song.

Horizons
The energy level kicks up a notch here with an exhilarating fast paced rocker. Again, I have to invoke the spirit of Rainbow in its best years. That comparison applies to the album as whole, but very strongly on this tune in particular.
Lord of the Lost and Lonely
A very catchy guitar motif anchors this tune, sounding vaguely Celtic in structure. This is the first song where Wayne Findlay's organ work becomes noticeable. He brings a sound very much like prime Jon Lord to the band. Again, the vocal lines are remarkably memorable and White is superb in handling the complex wording. Schenker's guitar solo is wonderful because it doesn't beat you over the head with how great he is. It has a natural and relaxed sound.
Rock and Roll Symphony
Here's another scorching rocker that sounds a lot like the fastest songs from Deep Purple. It's not terribly deep or original but it's archetypal heavy rock that outlasts all trends. There's a real cool organ/guitar duel in the middle.
To Live for the King
This tune has a slower, stalking feel to it that's a bit ominous. More overtones of Purple/Rainbow arise. Listen to that chorus and you start looking for Ritchie Blackmore's name on the credits. "Did I make you laugh / Did I make you cry / Did I touch your world?"
Land of Thunder
These guys like to alternate quick-paced and energetic tunes with slower, mid-tempo numbers. This is another one of the quick ones, much in the vein of the earlier "Horizons" and "Rock and Roll Symphony. The tune is simple, even basic, yet extremely effective and again I'm struck by how much these guys are all about the song. That being said, Schenker uncorks a beautiful solo that can't be mistaken for anybody else's work.
Temple of the Holy
There's a majestic, soaring feel to this mid-tempo ode. I can't say enough good things about White's vocal work here, with another tremendous chorus. Wayne Findlay's Hammond organ sounds mean and very heavy in the background.
Shine On
There are more dark and foreboding feelings here, with a bit more emphasis on keyboards. The tune is mostly mid-paced and, though I wouldn't call it one of my favorites here, it's still a fine number.
Bridges We Have Burned
This track runs a bit to close to the preceding number for my taste. It continues the dark and mid-paced feel but there's a lot more of a bluesy feeling à la something like Whitesnake. More great passionate vocal lines are provided by White. "The bridges that we burned / they will not return / I think of all the time I wasted.
Because You Lied
This might be one of the angriest, fastest songs Michael Schenker has ever played on. It's got some odd choppy riffing and wild echoey vocals from White, but Schenker throws in some strangely melodic and neoclassical guitar solos that are really cool. The ex-Scorps Rarebell and Buchholz sound absolutely locked in and better than they ever have.
Black Moon Rising
Another really heavy, dark tune, this growls like a wolf. Though not that fast, it has an aggressive feeling, with a pulsing synth in the background.
Dance for the Piper
The album closer is one of the best songs on the disc..wow, what incredible vocals! The chorus is just magnificent. The song itself has more of the down-tempo stalking feel that appears elsewhere, but never utilized better than here. And, of course, the guitar solo is another crystal clear Schenker scorcher.

 

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