THE LONG REVIEW:
Fifty-three years after he
stepped into the limelight with the release of The Monkees’ debut single in August of 1966, Michael Nesmith remains a musical enigma. The story of The Monkees
has been told so many times – perhaps TOO many times – so I’ll respectfully skip
over most of the details. One thing I will mention is how Nesmith seemed
slightly out of step with the Pop charts yet completely in step and confident
of his own musical vision. While Micky
Dolenz and Davy Jones handled
the bulk of the lead vocals for The Monkees’ glorious hits, Nesmith added a
sophisticated depth to the album tracks he wrote and/or produced. Although the
most naturally gifted as a songwriter in the band, his lead vocals were not
featured on a Monkees A-side until 1969, the year he graced the topside of two
singles in a row!
ATTACK OF THE MAD AXEMAN:
An EXCLUSIVE interview
There’s a reason why German guitarist Michael Schenker is considered a music legend. He carved out a successful career as a hard rock pioneer with German rockers Scorpions (1969-’73 and ’78-’79) and British heavy rock band UFO (1973-’78) as well as his own projects The Michael Schenker Group and McAuley-Schenker Group throughout the ‘80s and beyond. His manic playing, songwriting skills and knack for creating extremely memorable riffs has earned him legions of devoted fans all over the world. And let’s face it – Michael Schenker is the only guitarist that has ever made the Gibson Flying V guitar look cool. Many have tried but only Schenker has succeeded. And now, with his latest project Michael Schenker’s Temple Of Rock, he is proving once again that he still has plenty of fire, skill and energy. Even though he has been a professional musician for nearly fifty years, he has never lost his mojo.
Schenker’s first claim to fame was joining his older brother Rudolph’s band Scorpions in 1969. He and vocalist Klaus Meine joined the band at the same time, although at fifteen, Michael was the youngest member of Scorpions by a handful of years. He also just happened to be a unique guitarist and gifted songwriter. He honed his skills with Scorpions for four years before leaving the band and joining British rockers UFO. With UFO, Schenker became an
international sensation, steering the band away from their early Space Rock leanings towards an edgy Hard Rock sound. UFO became a force to be reckoned with, but by the end of 1978, he left the band. And to think he was barely into his twenties at this point. Schenker rejoined Scorpions right after leaving UFO, but soon realized he wanted to focus on his own thing. So he left – again – the following year. The Michael Schenker Group was his next project, although he moved away from the commercial sounds of his previous bands and embraced his experimental side. For the next thirty years, he focused on various other projects including a brief reunion with UFO, the McCauley-Schenker Group and other endeavors. By 2008, he was ready to embrace his illustrious Hard Rock past and formed Temple Of Rock. The band has had several line-up changes over the years but the most recent – and best – features Schenker joined by former Scorpions members Herman “ze German” Rarebell (drums) and Francis Bucholz (bass) plus guitarist/keyboardist Wayne Findlay and powerhouse vocalist Doogie White (Tank/La Paz/Rainbow/etc.). While on tour for their excellent 2015 sophomore studio album, Spirit On A Mission, the band was approached about recording their live show using a new technology called 3D Listening. The results can now be heard with the release of On A Mission: Live In Madrid. On this release, you can practically ‘feel’ the atmosphere of the venue even on the normal stereo mix of this recording. There’s even a version of the release that, with the correct audio equipment, will make it seem as if you are there in the audience enjoying Michael and the boys giving it their all on stage. The material during this scorching performance spans Schenker’s entire career including Scorpions, UFO and, of course, Temple Of Rock.
Stephen SPAZ Schnee was able to chat with Michael Schenker as he prepared to embark on a series Michael Schenker Fest shows, which feature appearances from three original vocalists he has worked with over the years – Gary Barden, Robin McAuley and Graham Bonnet…