Sunday, August 21, 2005

DVD - The Michael Schenker Group - Live in Tokyo 1997

The Michael Schenker Group - Live in Tokyo 1997.
3.5 / 5
Metal Mind Productions, 236 minutes.
released July 12, 2005

Legendary hard rock / metal guitarist Michael Schenker celebrates his 25th anniversary as a recording artist on this 2005 DVD release. Born on January 10, 1955 in Sarstedt, Germany, truly he is one of the chief architects of hard rock and heavy metal and remains a vital guitarist and songwriter. I've never seen him live, mostly due to the fact that he was always overshadowed by the groups that he used to be in and wasn't given a chance to form his own foothold in North America. He's big in Japan, though. I don't recall him every playing my city, Winnipeg.

From reading the back of the DVD case, I was immediately impressed with the huge number of songs included - 40! Schenker was a founding member of The Scorpions and recorded on their 1972 album, Lonesome Crow when he was 15. He then joined the British band UFO from 1973 to 1979, before rejoining the Scorpions for 1979's Lovedrive, and then heading out on a solo career. Schenker's output with UFO coincided with their most popular recordings, including 1977's Lights Out and 1978's Obsession and the massive hit, "Only You Can Rock Me."

Despite the fact the Scorpion' Love Drive album contains several notable tracks, such as "Loving You Sunday Morning", "Coast To Coast", the title track and "Holiday," only "Another Piece of Meat" in included on the DVD.

It's hard to believe that someone of Schenker's status would release such a bush league DVD. What do I mean by that? There's only one camera used to film the 30-song Tokyo concert!!! Sure, it zooms in once in a while, but it's not as good as a full film crew with multiple cameras.

On the plus side, the sound is acceptable. Schenker's guitar is razor sharp and vocalist David Van Landing is clear as a bell. Due to his classical sounds, you can hear why Schenker was an influence on Yngwie Malmsteen. The guitar playing is glorious. Listening to this DVD as I type away or surf the Internet, I feel like I am reliving the glory days of 70's hard rock, before thrash metal came along and placed more emphasis on speed than melody and whose seriousness took the fun out of music. This music "breathes" and feels less congested than much of the metal that came later and I love it! Obvious non-MSG highlights for me include the UFO classics "Doctor Doctor", "Lights Out", "Only You Can Rock Me" and Contraband's "All The Way From Memphis" (a Mott the Hoople cover.) Even when the songs aren't so hot and sound rather like pedestrian hard rock, Schenker's guitar playing drew me in.

I have a wide screen stereo TV but not surround sound decoder so I can't tell how great the sound is, but I think once you're into the music, none of that will really matter.

If you're a fan of Michael Schenker, UFO and The Scorpions, you will want to drop the $18 US price to buy this. How does it compare to last year's "Michael Schenker Group - World Wide Live 2004" DVD? I can't say, since I haven't seen it. That DVD is 105 minutes long and contains 15 tracks along with some interviews. In one interview, Schenker recalls how Chris Logan quit in the middle of a tour and how the group frantically searched for a repalcement for that evening at an Internet cafe, and ended up with Leif Sundin. He flew in and had only 30 minutes to prepare for the show. He sang from sheets and they pulled audience members on stage to sing, in addition to getting the opening band's singer join them, as well. The subsequent shows were better received than the Chris Logan shows. Schenker also spoke about how he was asked to join Ozzy Osbourne's band, right after the death of guitarist Randy Rhoads and how he was asked to audition for the Rolling Stones.

1. In the Search of the Peace of Mind (Scorpions)
2. Doctor Doctor (UFO)
3. Let it Roll (UFO)
4. Natural Thing
5. Lights Out (UFO)
6. Only You Can Rock Me (UFO)
7. Another Piece of Meat (Scorpions)
8. Into the Arena (Michael Schenker Group)
9. Are You Ready to Rock (Michael Schenker Group)
10. Assault Attack (Michael Schenker group
11. Captain Nemo (Michael Schenker Group)
12. No Time for Losers (McAuley Schenker Group)
13. Save Yourself (McAuley Schenker Group)
14. All the Way from Memphis (Contraband)
15. Pushed to the Limit (UFO)
16. Written in the Sand (Michael Schenker Group)
17. Back to Life (Michael Schenker Group)
18. Love Never Dies (Michael Schenker Group)
19. Essence (Michael Schenker Group)
20. Never Ending Nightmare (McAuley Schenker Group)
21. Bijou Pleasurette (Michael Schenker Group)
22. Positive Forward (Michael Schenker)
23. Lost Horizon (Michael Schenker Group)
24. Too Hot to Handle (UFO)
25. Attack of the Mad Axeman (Michael Schenker Group)
26. Love to Love (UFO)
27. On and On (Michael Schenker Group)
28. Armed and Ready (Michael Schenker Group)
29. Feels Like a Good Thing (Michael Schenker Group)
30. Rock Bottom (UFO)

Bonus Footage - The Unforgiven World Tour, Japan 2000:

01. Cry for the Nations
02. Let Sleeping Dogs Lie
03. Rock My Nights Away
04. 3 Fish Dancing
05. Pilot of Your Soul
06. In and Out of Time
07. The Mess I've Made
08. Hello Angel
09. Fat City
10. Looking for Love

01. Football vs. Music
02. Scorpions
03. UFO
04. The Rolling Stones
05. Phenomenon
06. Force It/ No Heavy Petting
07. Leaving UFO
08. MSG
09. Chris Logan / Leif Sundin
10. Tales of Rock'n'Roll
11. All-Stars Band
12. Looking Back, Looking Forward...

1997 line-up:
Micahel Schenker lead / acoustic guitars
David Van Landing vocals / percussions
Barry Sparks bass / acoustic guitars, backing vocals
Seth Bernstein rhythm / acoustic guitars, backing vocals
Shane Gaalaas drums / acoustic guitar
Leif Sundin vocals / rhythm / acoustic guitars

2000 line-up:
Michael Schenker lead and rhythm guitars
Keith Slack vocals
Shane Gaalaas drums
Barry Sparks bass guitar
Wayne Findlay keyboards/ rhythm guitars

Also see:
Michael Schenker Gives Fans A Concert Momento by MuzikMan. All his postings.
Schenker's Greatest Hits by Marty Dodge. All his postings.
UFO Regenerator by Tim Hall. All his postings.

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