Michael Schenker Group: ‘One Night in Budokan (Expanded Edition)’

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After being driven to drink and the edge of madness, mainly by Phil Mogg, whilst playing in the band UFO, Michael Schenker cut his hair and regrouped.

The First Michael Schenker Group (self-titled) studio album was a good affair, released in 1980, but apart from singer Gary Bardens it was completed by session players. The second album, simply titled “MSG” (1981) was by far more a band effort and on paper what a band! At the back was everybody’s idea of a rock drummer, Cozy Powell, thrashing out a heavy rock rhythm and alongside him was one-time Sensational Alex Harvey Band bassist Glenn Hughes. So that was the bottom end of the band, rock solid. On second guitar and keyboards was Schenker’s former colleague in UFO, Paul Raymond, a very useful man to have in your ranks as he was a multi-instrumentalist, could sing harmony vocals, contribute to the song writing and was great at rabble rousing the crowd on stage.

The one drawback to the whole band was Gary Bardens out front giving it all as the singer. To his credit he also helped write most of the songs, but as a singer he just could not cut it at this level. The second song on this album, “Cry for the Nations” and then on “On and On” display his attempts at singing falsetto and are cringe-worthy at best.

On the live stage there is no hiding and after the results of this album Bardens was jettisoned in favor of the much more melodious Graham Bonnet, but of course he came with a whole new tool box full of troubles. To this very day, Michael Schenker has searched for a suitable vocalist to compliment his talents. Perhaps Doogie White has come closest.

This live recording was also hampered by the fact that although the band was playing to a packed Budokan Stadium in Tokyo, the songs that they had come to promote were mostly on the second band album “MSG”, which had not yet been released in Japan. This led Gary Barden to continuously have to introduce each song with “This is a new song which will be on our second album, when it gets released.” Schenker had bravely ditched all but one song from his UFO days, his signature song “Doctor Doctor”.

Putting the singing problems aside, the music is excellent and played with great flare and panache. “Attack of the Mad Axe Man” is exactly as it title suggests and “Into the Arena” is an absolute classic riff-heavy instrumental rock song. The album also features a stunning eleven minute drum solo from Powell and while I’m not usually a fan of drum solos, in this case I will make an exception. From this point on the concert builds to a shattering climax, sending the Japanese crowd wild. Michael Schenker’s playing is nothing short of top drawer.

Album Rating: 3 Stars

Michael Schenker is shown in this 1980 file grab from video. (Photo/You Tube)
Michael Schenker is shown in this 1980
file grab from video. (Photo/You Tube)

Track List:

Introduction

Armed And Ready

Cry For The Nations

Attack of the Mad Axe Man

But I Want More

Victim of Illusion

Into the Arena

On And On

Never Trust A Stranger

Let Sleeping Dogs Lie

Tales Of Mystery

Cozy Powell Drum Solo

Courvoisier Concert

Lost Horizons

Doctor Doctor

Ready to Rock

Michael Schenker Band:

Michael Schenker – lead guitar

Paul Raymond – guitar, keyboards and vocals

Cozy Powell – drums

Chris Glenn – bass and vocals

Gary Bardens- vocals