MSG (Schenker Barden Acoustic Project) – Gipsy Lady (2009, Inakustik)
- Dance Lady Gipsy
- All Of My Life
- Fight For Freedom
- El Grande
- Starting Over
- Can’t Live On Love Alone
- Another Melody
- Travelled So Far
- Night Of The Stare
- The Journey
Michael Schenker – Acoustic Guitars & all Lead Guitars
Gary Barden – Lead Vocals
Michael Voss – Acoustic Guitars, Bass, Keyboards, Orchestral Arrangements & Backing Vocals
Kai Luennemann – Percussion
Pearl – additional backing vocals (track 7)
Andrea Beusker – additional backing vocals (track 10)
Produced by: Michael Schenker & Michael Voss
Total Time = 47:04
Michael Schenker and Gary Barden reunited last year for the comeback album IN THE MIDST OF BEAUTY (2008) that cemented another brilliant comeback for the often maligned guitar god. IN THE MIDST OF BEAUTY was a return to the classic MSG sound from the early ’80s but Michael Schenker has always been about exploring new musical paths and the follow-up, GIPSY LADY, continues a journey through the acoustic soundscape. Since 1993, Michael Schenker has released 5 acoustic instrumental albums all with the main title THANK YOU as a tribute to his fans.: there is the orginal THANK YOU (1993), THANK YOU 2 (1998), THANK YOU w/ORCHESTRA (1999), THANK YOU 3 (2001) and THANK YOU 4 (2003)…..all independently released. The main difference between the THANK YOU series and GIPSY LADY is that Michael finally had a vocalist who could provide top quality lyrics to his acoustic arrangements.
All the songs here are very subdued mid-tempo songs and/or ballads but there are a couple of upbeat songs that have almost a Blackmore’s Night sound to them. Opening track ‘Lost’ is a ballad with a soulful vocal from Barden but it sounded very familiar to me…..so I went diving into my MSG collection. Turns out that the basic acoustic instrumental is the same as ‘TY 1’ on THANK YOU 4 (there are no song titles on THANK YOU 4, only TY and the track #). The same thing with ‘Dance Lady Gipsy’ (the basic acoustic instrumental is really ‘TY 8’), ‘All Of My Life’ (mostly ‘TY 11’) and the istrumental ‘El Grande’ (‘TY 5’). I knew that the first few songs sounded familiar! To make sure I was positive I played each album’s respective track at the same time and they were a perfect match! On one hand, it’s nice to have some song titles and lyrics for some of the THANK YOU 4 tracks but it’s also a little disappointing knowing that 4 out of the first 5 songs are basically copies of songs from 7 years ago. The only other THANK YOU albums I own are the first one and the ORCHESTRA album (which are the same album except one has orchestration) and I cross-checked them against GIPSY LADY…..nothing. So I’m going to base the rest of the review without knowing if any instrumental tracks from TY 2 or TY 3 are being used.
‘Dance Lady Gipsy’ sounds like Blackmore’s Night with some female background vocals and ‘All My Life’ is another soul filled ballad. ‘Fight For Freedom’ has a Latin/Flamenco/Medieval sound to it (again like Blackmore’s Night) and ‘El Grande’ is a straight up instrumental without vocals. ‘Starting Over’ has a slight mid-tempo gallop to it and Barden starts to stretch his voice a little more, there are some nice background vocals here as well. ‘Can’t Live On Love Alone’ has this almost Foreigner-lite style to it but with some subtle keyboards and female vocals from Pearl. ‘Another Melody’ is a piano based ballad while ‘Travelled So Far’ has more of an uptempo beat to it even though it’s still melodic, light and similar to Ritchie and Candice’s minstrels. ‘Hungry’ is a really cool and soft but the Barden vocal makes it stand out and puts more of a melodic rock feel to it, same thing happens with ‘Night Of The Stare’ but the Tango styled guitar parts break up the song and make it more unique. The album ends with another pure instrumental ‘The Journey’ that starts out with a marching flute and drums and moves into Michael’s beautiful guitar work. ‘The Journey’ has an upbeat mood to it and I’ve heard it before on one of the THANK YOUs I own but I’m not going to go back and search again.
It’s a little disappointing to get some recycled material that at least 7 years old but, like I mentioned, it’s nice to hear the songs completed with full lyrics and other instruments. If I never owned any of the THANK YOU series then I would consider this album a great acoustic record but I have to deduct points for the recycling. Taking the album as a unique original piece, it’s very interesting as well as beautiful. Michael Schenker proves again that he is as innovative as ever and that he is one of the premier guitarists in the world, he plays with such effortless beauty that it’s easy to get lost in the music. Gary Barden gives Michael that true partner in music with his solid words and crips rasp of a delivery…..combining the two results in top of the line records. While this may not be the typical Michael Schenker album full of innovative riffs and solos, it’s a Schenker album filled with melodic touch and beauty. If you are looking for something different, something relaxing, something calming, this is an album to check out. I enjoyed it and I think it fits well alongside the other five acoustic albums Michael has released in the last 17 years.
Favorite Songs: ‘Lost’, ‘Dance Lady Gipsy’, ‘El Grande’, ‘Can’t Live On Love Alone’, ‘Night Of The Stare’