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On disc: MSG

- Unplugged 'Live' - Claudia Ehrhardt - 8 stars
- Heavy Hitters - Claudia Ehrhardt - 5 stars

Heavy Hitters

Heavy Hitters
(Soulfood - 2005)

This album will make MSG / Michael Schenker fans wonder, coz why doing another covers album and why released as MSG as he has the Thank You releases and Schenker Pattison Summit albums. On his homepage Michael Schenker stated that he was asked by Bob Kulick - who produced the album - to add some guitar parts for some cover songs and was taken by surprise when it was released as MSG. Beside Michael Schenker been involved singers like Joe Lynn Turner, Tim 'Ripper' Owens, Mark Slaughter, Gary Barden, Tommy Shaw, Jeff Scott Soto, Sebastian Bach and Paul DiAnno. Bass been played by e.g. Rudy Sarzo, Jeff Pilson, Mike Inez, Marco Mendoza and Tony Levin while drums been hit by Aynsley Dunbar, Eric Singer, Simon Wright and Brett Chassen.
The opening track is All Shook Up and is presented in a heavy rock version. Joe Lynn Turner's vocals fit well to the tune. Not that interesting is the following Blood On The Sun in my opinion as it sung by Mountain's Leslie West. That you find a version of U.F.O.'s Doctor Doctor here is no surprise, but with Jeff Scott Soto on mic it sounds different. Not bad, but somehow I miss Phil Moog on this one... How many cover versions of War Pigs been recorded? No idea, but many! So, do we need another one? Some will say yes, as this one features 'Ripper' Owens on vocals. Like me some will prefer other versions... In my case I prefer the version Pride & Glory recorded. Pink Floyd's Money is sticking out a bit as it has a different atmosphere. A great tune and Tommy Shaw's voice fits to the laid back sound of this one. One of my favorites on this album, especially as Edgar Winter is adding the sax part! With Gary Barden on vocals Out In The Fields sounds heavier... The song lost the bluesy note. The raspy voice of Paul DiAnno is more powerful then Dan McCafferty's, but Nazareth raw sound is missing a bit....
Sure, all songs are played more then well and Michael Schenker is still one of the best guitarists, but why again covering these songs? Bob Kulick did a great job in hiring people for this project and it's done on a high level, but somehow it don't really get me. There are so many great songs which don't get covered and would get some attention with these great musicians performing them. So everybody has to consider, if he / she needs another covers album. Fans of Michael Schenker will be interested in his work anyway. Everybody else? Well, you have to make up your mind about this one.

Track list:

All Shook Up (Carl Perkins)
Blood Of The Sun (Mountain)
Doctor Doctor (U.F.O.)
War Pigs (Black Sabbath)
I'm Not Talking (The Yardbirds)
Money (Pink Floyd)
Out In The Fields (Gary Moore)
Hair Of The Dog (Nazareth)
I Don't Live Today (Jimi Hendrix)
Politician (Cream)

5 stars

Claudia Ehrhardt


Unplugged 'Live'

Unplugged 'Live'
(EMI - 1992)

Some might know them as Michael Schenker Group, others will know them as McAuley Schenker Group, but whatever you call them this is the band of Germany's guitar whiz Michael first stepped into the rock scene when he joined Scorpions, then leaves them to be part of U.F.O. Later he started his own band. Singers came and left, since the late 80's he's working with Robin McAuley (ex-Grand Prix) and after 3 studio album with Mr. McAuley they did an acoustic tour in the USA. On that tour the mainmen were joined by Spencer Sercombe (Shark Island). They recorded the show on March, 25th 1992 in Anaheim, California which presents the trio acoustically and is also the end of the next chapter in the history of MSG.
This album and it's 11 tracks document an era in MSG and also show a different side of the band. The songs of mastermind Michael Schenker as well as the U.F.O. tracks (Doctor, Doctor and Lights Out) sound really cool, the acoustic versions of rockers (e.g. Bad Boys and Gimme Your Love) and ballads show that these songs don't need the power of electric guitars to make it. Everybody knows Michael Schenker as an outstanding and brilliant guitarist and Spencer Sercombe support him very well.
Not a typical album, but if you like acoustic guitars and love the music of MSG, you'll love this album! For the ones who think that music without electric guitars and pounding drums is boring, don't buy this... But perhaps you should give it a try first, maybe you'll like it!?!

8 stars

Claudia Ehrhardt


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