A blast from classic rock music’s past – that’s what you’ll hear on the Michael Schenker Group’s latest album, In The Midst Of Beauty . Guitar great Schenker recruited original MSG band members Gary Barden (vocals), Neil Murray (bass), Don Airey (keyboards) and Simon Phillips (drums) to add some familiar punch to the new songs. The 12 songs here run the gamut of emotions, and include some of the strongest material of Schenker’s solo career.
From the opening chug of “City Lights” to the melodic drive of “Ride On My Way,” Schenker and crew fire on all cylinders. The guitar riffs don’t get any more Schenker-esque than on “End Of The Line,” “Come Closer,” or “Na Na,” and his gift for melodic soloing comes through in every song.
But make no mistake, this isn’t just the Michael Schenker show: It’s a group effort in the best sense, with the instruments and vocals given space to blossom. Hearing Murray’s booming bass, Airey’s organ lines and Phillips’ grooves (such as the slinky shuffle of “Wings Of Emotion”) in the mix only serve to give the songs added depth.
Barden puts his stamp across the album. There’s a subtle power in his voice, and his command of vocal nuance comes through in spades on songs such as “The Cross Of Crosses,” “Come Closer” and the fantastic “Summerdays,” with its Deep Purple-ish “Child In Time”-like opening giving way to a gritty Barden vocal. Speaking of Purple, check out “A Night To Remember,” with its heavy organ riffing reminiscent of “Smoke On The Water” or the snake-like intro of “I Want You,” with Schenker and Airey harmonizing on guitar and organ. Powerful stuff.
Welcome back MSG, Mark 1!