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Michael Schenker Group: Universal
Michael Schenker Group - Universal Album Art

Michael Schenker Group: Universal

Melodic Hard Rock

As David Letterman might say on his new interview program, "This next musician requires no introduction ..." Indeed, to fans of melodic hard rock and metal of the past 50 years, Michael Schenker needs no preamble. To many he is the quintessential guitar hero, influencing many guitarists and entertaining even more fans with his fret board magic. As a fan, my love for lead guitar came from three essential musicians of the Seventies: Alvin Lee, Ritchie Blackmore, and Michael Schenker. Notably, in his rise with UFO.

Michael Schenker Click For Larger Image

Michael Schenker

As a guitarist, Schenker has been on quite a recording roll in recent years, mostly with Michael Schenker's Temple Of Rock, Michael Schenker Fest, and Michael Schenker Group (MSG). The 67 year old seems to have no interest in slowing down. His MSG project returns with Universal. The second MSG album in two years it features several guest vocalists including Michael Kiske, Ralf Scheepers, and the youngster of the bunch, Michael Romero. The latter will front the Spring MSG tour. Also, as usual, Schenker surrounds himself with primo talent: Simon Phillips, Barry Sparks, and Tony Carey to mention only a few. Original MSG vocalist Robin McAuley is not involved.

As for tunes, once more we discover that Schenker is the talented songwriter. Sure, the album is a Schenker guitar clinic. But the songs are wrapped in the essentials: rhythm and groove, song melody and harmony, clean vocals, and catchy refrains. All things find their center with Schenker's rhythmic guitar harmonies and inventive solos. Simply, Universal is everything you expect from this legendary guitar player.

Most songs are straight-up guitar rockers like London Calling, Emergency, and Wrecking Ball. The song, The Universe, features Romero with Gary Barden, in something of a slower paced anthem. A King Has Gone features Kiske in a tribute to vocal legend Ronnie James Dio, also featuring Rainbow alum Bobby Rondinelli and Bob Daisley. Tony Carey introduces the song with the prelude Calling Baal. Schenker offers an instrumental guitar exercise with the fast and spirited Au Revior. In toto, MSG's Universal is another fine album of Michael Schenker's solid songwriting and blistering fret pyrotechnics. Easily recommended. - New fiction, crime fiction by Craig Hartranft

The Take Away

In toto, MSG's Universal is another fine album of Michael Schenker's solid songwriting and blistering fret pyrotechnics. Easily recommended.

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