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MSG Heavy Hitters Cleopatra Records
· Produced By: Bob Kulick

· Running Time: 50.00

· Release Date: Out Now

· Released:

· Musical Style: Melodic Hard Rock

· Links: MSG
80%
Songs: 80%
Sound: 80%
[Review edited. All details remain accurate and the same apart from the reference to this album being the 25th Anniversary release Michael has been working on with various singers. That release is still pending - this is a tribute release from Cleopatra, with Michael playing the key role in the release].

A few Schenker fans give me a bit of crap regarding my last couple of reviews for the famed Axe-slinger…even vocalist Chris Logan joined in on the last review!
Still, that's their right, the very reason I provide the Interactive Reviews is for fans to post their views. But for me – I remained unimpressed with Schenker's recent offerings.
I remain an ardent fan of the days with Robin McAuley and even some of the Gary Barden material. Not to mention UFO. Walk On Water remains an all-time favourite.
Back to the present – Schenker's personal affairs appear in as much disarray as ever and in between dealing with those issues, quite publicly at times, he recorded a new album.
This is a tribute album of sorts, put together by Cleopatra Records. They have gathered up a range of musicians to pay tribute to some classic rock songs, with Michael Schenker suuplying the guitar parts. What is confusing for the consumer is the fact this is released under the MSG moniker. It really has little to do with past MSG releases - aside from Schenker handling guitar duties.
Sadly Cleopatra is one of the crummiest labels in America. They wouldn't know promotion if it was a 30-foot billboard sitting on top of their office building. The only reason I am reviewing this is because I sourced it myself.
The line-up featured here is pretty impressive, with the roles of all musicians shared, with Schenker the only constant.
Close behind Schenker however, is famed producer Bob Kulick, who plays most of the album's rhythm guitars and produces, ensuring that this at least sounds pretty tight musically.
Schenker contributes some amazing guitar parts here and some inspired solos – to my ear some of his best and certainly better than the last couple of studio albums.
That said, not all of the covers included hit the spot and some of the individual vocal performances will appeal to some, but not others.
Heavy blues rock gets a solid workout on Heavy Hitters, a style Schenker plays with consummate ease.
Joe Lynn Turner delivers the first hit with a mid-tempo All Shook Up - an absolute no-brainer for blues veteran Turner.
Leslie West appears to reprise his role singing the original Mountain track Blood Of The Sun. Another does of bluesy rock, it's an ok track, but lacks punch.
Doctor Doctor covers Schenker's own past and features the ever professional Jeff Scott Soto up front and is easy an album favourite due to this singer's appeal.
A 7 minute plus cover of Sabbath's War Pigs features Tim Ripper Owens on vocals and doesn't stray too far from the original. A rhythm section comprising of Mike Inez and Aynsley Dunbar adds punch and Schenker plays all over the track.
I'm Not Talking features Mark Slaughter – a vocalist I have never warmed to. Slaughter fans might dig the track – an uptempo blues romp, but for me it's skippable.
Pink Floyd's Money is covered without adding much variation to the original. Styx's Tommy Shaw joins the album line-up, as does Edgar Winter (Sax), Tony Levin (Bass) and the long lost Mike Baird (Drums). Interesting track and cool line-up.
I Don't Live Today is a Jimi Hendrix cover and features some inspired lead guitar work. The always energetic Sebastian Back joins in on vocals and the track also features Eric Singer and Tony Franklin as the rhythm section.
Hair Of The Dog features the very distinct Paul Di'Anno on vocals. I have never liked his voice and it sounds as rough as ever here.
Out In The Fields features Gary Barden replacing Phil Lynott and Gary Moore as the single vocalist for this Moore cover. Nowhere near as good as the original and disappointing.
Cream's Politician features bass and vocals from Jeff Pilson. He suits the song, but this isn't a stand out and ends the album on slow note, despite a solid lead guitar display.
The Bottom Line
Already I see mixed reviews on the internet, which is typical of the response for any Schenker album for the past several years. I think this album will be the same – die-hards will love it and praise its virtues, while the majority of others will accept it for what it is and that is an ok album, but certainly not a classic. Maybe it would have been better released under another name while we wait for the real new MSG album.
Discography / Previously Reviewed
· The Michael Schenker Group
· MSG
· Assault Attack
· Built To Destroy
· Perfect Timing
· Save Yourself
· MSG
· Unplugged
· Written In The Sand
· The Unforgiven
· Be Aware Of Scorpions
· Arachnophobic
· Heavy Hitters

Line Up:
Various
Essential For Fans Of:
· Michael Schenker
Track Listing
· All Shook Up*
· Blood of the Sun
· Doctor Doctor*
· War Pigs
· I'm Not Talking
· Money
· I Don't Live Today*
· Hair of the Dog
· Out in the Fields
· Politician
--*Best Tracks


29/01/06: Andy DiGelsomina - andydigelsomina@yahoo.com
Rating: 3
I thought the version of Out in the Fields was the best track here, and the version of War Pigs is well worth it to hear Owens' insane vocals.There are some unmemorable songs here, and even (MEGA GASP!) unmemorable guitar licks. However, Michael is much like Ritchie Blackmore in that, when he's inspired, he's tought to match in either the Rock or Metal genres. Worth the cash overall, in my opinion.

06/10/05: Jari - jariyrkki@yahoo.ca
Rating: 50
It hurts to write this...

I'm a massive Schenker fan since way back in the late 70s when I 1st bought UFOs "Obsession" (still to this day it's my favorite album of all time). This is not an MSG album, it is basically a keraoke album with Schenker filling every possible empty spot with some guitar, without a doubt the man still has more talent than anyone else out there. However, it's unfortunate that he would allow this piece of crap to go out under the MSG band name.

I just hope he hooks up another great singer (like Bonnet or MacAuley)and is able to enlighten us once more with a great album in the near future. The 100th version of Doctor Doctor hints at a great union. Imagine a new MSG album with JSS handling the vocal duties, ouch!!! One can only dream...

31/08/05: RS - restorey2001@yahoo.com
Rating: 80
I'll agree with Andrew's rating for this album, but not on the basis he states. This is NOT the new celebration of 30 years of MSG album that Michael has discussed. That comes later in the year or early in the next and is eagerly awaited. Rather, this exercise in income generation takes previously issued tracks from the pool of Bob Kulick and Billy Sherwood tribute albums and puts Schenker's guitar on top. That the songs are pretty good helps, but Michael sounded more inspired on the recent "Endless Jam" recordings, which had some excellent solos. This one is for completists only, but fans of Schenker's work ought to look for the next studio album, which will apparently have Barden, Bonnet, McAuley, Logan, Keeling, etc.

31/08/05: Miles - miles.newland@gmail.com
Rating: 75
Schenker puts his heart and soul into his instrumental albums, the acoustic Thank You albums, and the electric Adventures Of The Imagination, but his band albums have lacked focus, and he doesn't seem to even care to participate fully.

Jeff Watson played lead guiatr on the last MSG album. I found that completely shocking that Schenker wasn't even playing on some songs on an MSG album.

On the two Schenker-Pattison albums and this Heavy Hitters, Michael is just the studio lead player. He doesn't participate in the writing or direction of the album, and doesn't seem to care. He admits to just showing up, playing some solos and lets everyone else complewte the album.

The next MSG will need him to be fully committed.


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