Gary John Barden – Rock ‘N Roll My Soul (2010)

Gary John Barden – Rock ‘N Roll My Soul (2010, Inakustik)

  1. Oh Well
  2. I’m Just A Singer (In A Rock ‘n Roll Band)
  3. Never Before
  4. When A Blind Man Cries
  5. Let’s Work Together
  6. Why Did You Do It
  7. I’m A Man
  8. Stay With Me
  9. Travellin’ Band
  10. The Long And Winding Road
  11. Zeit macht nur vor dem Teufel halt
  12. Rock ‘n Roll My Soul

The Players:
Gary Barden – Vocals
Michael Voss – Guitars, Drums, Keyboards & Background Vocals
Don Airey – Piano & Orchestration (Track 10)
Ian Ward – Harp (Track 5)
Tommy Denander – Lead guitars (Track 6)
Axel Urban – Keyboards (Tracks 5, 8, 12)
Steffi Stephan – Bass (Tracks 5, 9)
Matthias Rethmann – Bass
Barend Courbois – Bass (Track 8)
Pearl – Backing Vocals (Tracks 3, 7, 8)
Andrea Beusker – Backing Vocals (Track 11)
Ferdy Doernbrg – Keyboards (Tracks 4, 7)
Wayne Findlay – Hammond Organ & Piano (Track 3)
Molly Duncan – Saxophone (Tracks 6, 9)

Produced by: Michael Voss & Gary Barden

Country: United Kingdom

Total Time = 42:32

(no official website)

Current Michael Schenker Group vocalist Gary Barden has a new solo album out, ROCK ‘N ROLL MY SOUL, and I was pretty psyched to hear it when I found about it last year. Actually, I believe that this CD was released everywhere except North America in late 2010 but it finally has proper distribution, my copy says “2010” so I’m going with it! I saw MSG in concert last summer so I’ve been on an MSG kick, especially the first two records with Barden on vocals, so I was looking forward to getting my hands on Gary’s new solo album. Of course I acquire it and I find out it’s an album of cover songs with one original tacked on the end. Regular readers know (and I will write this everytime a cover is involved) that I’m not into covers where original songs should be, especially when the album is promoted as a “new album”. Granted that it’s new but let’s get to full disclosure! I read the press release when I it came through but it didn’t click somehow that this was a covers record.

Giving the album a few spins, I can honestly say that this is a well-produced and good sounding album. Musicianship is great and Gary sounds in fine voice, he can just sing these songs and not have to pack a Hard Rock punch to them as he does in MSG or when he was in Praying Mantis or Statetrooper. The songs here are all from the late ’60s to the mid ’70s, basically what Gary was listening to back in his formative days. If you’ve ever listened to your local Classic Rock radio station then you’ve definitely heard the original tunes and even know most of the words. I knew all the originals except for the German song ‘Zeit macht nur vor dem Teufel halt’ by Barry Ryan.

Let me run down the original artists in order: Fleetwood Mac, The Moody Blues, two in a row by Deep Purple, Canned Heat, Stretch, The Spencer Davis Group (featuring Steve Winwood), The Faces, Creedence Clearwater Revival, The Beatles, Barry Ryan. Add the title song by Barden and you’ve got an album! A new album. Anyway, the songs are all done well (like I mentioned before) and the highlights for me are both Deep Purple songs, ‘Stay With Me’, ‘Travellin’ Band’ and ‘The Long And Winding Road’. I always liked the originals of these songs and the covers are all dead on (all of the covers are), there’s nothing overly special to them, I just like the tunes. I like the fact that Gary covered a couple of Deep Purple songs from MACHINE HEAD (1972), especially ‘When A Blind Man Cries’. Gary sounds a bit like Ian Gillan at times on both songs but it’s not the performances that get me here, it’s the selections. Why cover ‘Never Before’ when you could do the more popular ‘Highway Star’ or the Rock anthem that is ‘Smoke On The Water’? Good for Gary going a little deeper and pulling out ‘When A Blind Man Cries’, a song that was originally the B-side to the ‘Never Before’ single and not originally released on MACHINE HEAD until the 25th Anniversary edition released in 1997. I like the original song, ‘Rock ‘N Roll My Soul’, it has that Aerosmith ‘Big Ten Inch Record’ sound to it…..upbeat, light, quick and fun.

Bottom Line:
This is a covers album so I’m not going to give this outstanding marks but there is some meat on the bone with the original title track, the choice of songs to cover, the arrangements and Gary’s vocals. I think I’m softening my hardline stance against covers because I enjoyed giving this album more than a few spins…..probably due to the fact that you don’t hear these songs covered that often. Usually the Hard Rock guys go with Hard Rock covers, the closest Hard Rock here is Deep Purple. Actually, Gary’s vocals on ‘When A Blind Man Cries’ are really good and that performance helps pull the album from my immeadiate personal disqualification. If you want to hear different versions of these classic songs, or you want to hear Barden’s singing, then pick this up. Of all the covers records I’ve heard in the past couple of years, I like ROCK ‘N ROLL MY SOUL as one of the best.

Favorite Songs:
Both Deep Purple tracks ‘Never Before’ & ‘When A Blind Man Cries’, ‘Trevellin’ Band’, ‘Stay With Me’, ‘The Long And Winding Road’ and the original title track.

Michael Schenker Group – The 30th Anniversary Concert: Live In Tokyo (2010) CD & DVD

Michael Schenker Group – The 30th Anniversary Concert: Live In Tokyo (2010, Inakustik)

  1. Welcome Howl intro
  2. Feels Like A Good Thing
  3. Cry For The Nations
  4. Let Sleeping Dogs Lie
  5. Armed And Ready
  6. Victim Of Illusion
  7. Are You Ready To Rock
  8. I Want You
  9. A Night To Remember
  10. Into The Arena
  11. Lost Horizons
  12. Rock My Nights Away
  13. On And On
  14. Attack Of The Mad Axeman
  15. Ride On My Way
  16. Rock Bottom
  17. Dance Lady Gipsy
  18. Doctor, Doctor

DVD Bonus Material: The L.A. Rehearsal and Backstage Impressions

Band Lineup:
Michael Schenker – Lead Guitar
Gary Barden – Vocals
Wayne Findlay – Guitars, Keyboards & Backing Vocals
Neil Murray – Bass
Simon Phillips – Drums

Producers & Directors: Kiyoshi Iwasawa, Kota Akutsu, Shin Yamamoto

Country: USA & Germany

Total Time (DVD) = 1:39:54 (concert) & approx 25 minutes (bonus material)
Total Time (2 CDs) = 1:39:54

Michael Schenker
Inakustik Music

On June 13, 2010, the Michael Schenker Group performed a concert at the Nakano Sun Plaza in Tokyo, Japan as part of the Japanese tour celebrating the 30th anniversary of the band and the first MSG lineup. You could call this a reunion of sorts with Michael joining forces again with original vocalist Gary Barden and drummer Simon Phillips, who played the drums on the first MSG album. Also along for the ride is long time Schenker guitarist/keyboardist Wayne Findlay and former Whitesmake/Black Sabbath/Vow Wow bassist Neil Murray. Japan has always been a country in love with their guitar heroes and Michael is certainly fits that bill, I have been a fan of his career for years spanning his time with the Scorpions, UFO, MSG and solo. I caught this tour with a different lineup back in July and it was one of the best shows I’ve seen this year and the first time I saw MSG live but the lineup was different for the U.S. tour. What we have here with the 30th ANNIVERSARY CONCERT: LIVE IN TOKYO is two separate releases: a DVD and a 2 CD live album.

The DVD version of the 30th ANNIVERSARY CONCERT captures the all-star MSG lineup in full force at the Nakano Sun Plaza in Tokyo, Japan in front of a sold out crowd. There’s the full 18 song concert shot with multiple cameras and a bonus section that includes part of the tour rehearsal in Los Angeles with band interviews and a behind the scenes backstage look at the Tokyo show. As far as the setlist goes, it’s basically the same as the one I saw in Foxboro, MA except that the running order is different and there are thwo additional songs: ‘Feels Like A Good Thing’ and ‘Victim Of Illusion’. There are plenty of classic MSG tracks and the band focuses on the first two MSG albums with a combined ten songs including ‘Cry For The Nations’, ‘Armed And Ready’, ‘On And On’ and ‘Let Sleeping Dogs Lie’, as well as, ‘Rock My Nights Away’ from the Barden led BUILT TO DESTROY (1983). Also thrown in the mix are two UFO classics, ‘Doctor Doctor’ and ‘Rock Bottom’, and four new songs, ‘I Want You’, ‘A Night To Remember’, ‘Ride On My Way’ and ‘Dance Lady Gipsy’. I really enjoyed watching the DVD as each musician is an expert at their intruments but the real treat here is watching Michael play from right up close. When I went to see the concert in Foxboro, it took a while for me to get myself positioned in front of Michael because that’s what everyone wants to do! The DVD allowed me to sit and watch one of the greatest guitarists play with ease and grace and truly enjoying himself. The performances are top notch and the set highlights for me are all the MSG classics but the new songs really fit right in. I saw ‘I Want You’, ‘A Night To Remember’ and ‘Ride On My Way’ (from 2008’s IN THE MIDST OF BEAUTY) live in Foxboro so I knew they were going to be great watching this DVD but the added bonus is getting ‘Dance Lady Gipsy’ from the Schenker Barden Acoustic Project – GIPSY LADY (2009). What you are buying this DVD for is the concert but there is a 25 minute bonus section that is pretty cool too. The first part is rehearsal footage from 1/9/10 in Los Angeles mixed with interviews with all the band members. The best interviews are with Michael,as he recounts his career with all his bands, and Simon Phillips, who provides a little more insight into his involvement on the debut MSG record. The second part of the bonus material is behind the scenes backstage footage of mostly soundcheck and the backstage are but there is also some cool footage of Michael interacting with fans after the show. As far as bonuses go, this is pretty basic stuff but cool nonetheless.

As far as the CD goes, it’s a 2 CD set that is a carbon copy of the DVD…..the setlist is identical as is the booklet but there are no bonuses on the CD version. I like having the live album for my stereo, car and iPod because it’s all about the music and there is plenty of classic songs on this live album.

Bottom Line:
A solid release here both on DVD and CD and a definite tour souvenir for me. I’ve followed Michael Schenker throughout his career but I’ve only seen him live once, on this tour almost two months after this DVD was shot. Seeing MSG live was one of my all-time favorite concerts so this DVD and CD has a special place in my musical history and, when I listen to the CD, I see the show I saw. It’s hard to believe that it’s been 30 years since the first MSG album debuted but 1980 was a long time ago for sure. It’s great to see and hear all these classic tracks from the first two MSG albums live and it’s great to hear some of the newer songs fit in seemlessly. Definitely well worth your time checking out if your an MSG fan, a great concert.

MSG (Schenker Barden Acoustic Project) – Gipsy Lady (2009)

MSG - Gipsy Lady

MSG (Schenker Barden Acoustic Project) – Gipsy Lady (2009, Inakustik)

  1. Lost
  2. Dance Lady Gipsy
  3. All Of My Life
  4. Fight For Freedom
  5. El Grande
  6. Starting Over
  7. Can’t Live On Love Alone
  8. Another Melody
  9. Travelled So Far
  10. Hungry
  11. Night Of The Stare
  12. The Journey

Band Lineup:
Michael Schenker – Acoustic Guitars & all Lead Guitars
Gary Barden – Lead Vocals
Michael Voss – Acoustic Guitars, Bass, Keyboards, Orchestral Arrangements & Backing Vocals
Kai Luennemann – Percussion

Additional Musicians:
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
Inakustik Records

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… 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.

Bottom Line:
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’

Current Playlist

Now that I’ve seen the Anvil movie and read the book, I feel rejuvenated! Nothing like seeing/hearing an inspirational story about Heavy Metal to get you out of a rut and back on track. There have also been some really good albums that I’ve rediscovered by adding them into my iPod so it’s been all about the music and getting myself into a Metal frame of mind. Here’s what I’ve been spinning…..

Anvil – Anthology (1999): I have a lot of holes in my Anvil collection but I’m taking care of that as we speak. This anthology cane out on Metal Blade Records back in ’99 and has 18 songs that come from everything from the debut HARD ‘N HEAVY (1981) to SPEED OF SOUND (1998). It’s a nice overview of Anvil’s career to that point.

Anvil – This Is Thirteen (2007): Watch the new Anvil movie and you’ll get an inside look at the recording of this album. I never really took this album out of my playing rotation for the last year and a half…..if the CD is sitting next to the stereo then it’s in the “Now Playing” pile. When I actually file it away in the cases, then it’s out of normal rotation. What a great album, a serious comeback from a band that’s never really gone away.

Wolf – Ravenous (2009): I really wasn’t expecting much from Wolf but that just goes to show you that I’m an idiot! I never picked up 2006’s THE BLACK FLAME even though 2004’s EVIL STAR was an awesome record. I ended up grabbing this CD a week after it came out as an afterthought because it was still on sale. This is probably going to be in my list of top albums of 2009! Review coming soon…..

MSG – Gipsy Lady: The Schenker Barden Acoustic Project (2009): Always a big fan of MSG and Michael’s solo work, especially his acoustic THANK YOU series which are some of the best work he’s ever released. Now that the Schenker/Barden team is here for a while, they are exploring the acoustic realm together. It’s a little different with vocals but they are a solid team. Review this week…..

UFO – The Visitor (2009): One of my favorite releases of 2009 and June 2009’s album of the month. Review this week…..

Aerosmith – Nine Lives (1998): Everyone remembers this album as the one with ‘Pink’ on it but I picked this up over a decade ago the day it came out. It had been 4 years since GET A GRIP (1993) and I bought the album just because it was a new Aerosmith record. Every song on the album is great and I remember thinking that this was going to be the Aerosmith album that would closely resemble the ’70s but not be as commercially successful. They had a few singles but when ‘Pink’ hit the radio then NINE LIVES skyrocketed! I skip ‘Pink’ when I play the CD. Two quick details: I have the original pressing with the original cover art and I saw the tour on New Year’s Eve that year…..what a party!

KISS – Crazy Nights (1987): I know this album by heart and KISS is my favorite band but I wouldn’t have listened to it 10 times in the last week if my daughter wasn’t playing it constantly!

Rhapsody – Legendary Tales (1997): I got into Rhapsody (now Rhaposdy Of Fire) back in 1998 and I heard a newer song on an internet radio show last week so I figured I would give the band a fresh listen from the beginning and start to search out some of the holes in my Rhapsody collection.

The Gathering – Mandylion (1995): With the band’s new album (THE WEST POLE) coming out Tuesday, I figured I would revisit the album that got me into the band. If I buy the new album it will be the first Gathering record I’ve picked up since 2000’s IF THEN ELSE.

MSG (Michael Schenker Group) – In The Midst Of Beauty (2008)

MSG – In The Midst Of Beauty (2008, Inakustik Records)

  1. City Lights
  2. Competition
  3. I Want You
  4. End Of The Line
  5. Summerdays
  6. A Night To Remember
  7. Wings Of Emotion
  8. Come Closer
  9. The Cross Of Crosses
  10. Na Na
  11. I Am The One
  12. Ride On My Way

Band Lineup:
Michael Schenker – Guitars
Gary Barden – Vocals
Don Airey – Keyboards, B3 Organ
Neil Murray – Bass
Simon Phillips – Drums

Produced by: Michael Schenker, Romi Schickle, Siggi Schwarz

Total Time = 49:41

Michael Schenker official website
Michael Schenker MySpace page
In-Akustik Records

Michael Schenker is a guitar legend who’s creativity is unbound…..when he allows himself to be creative. Despite all of the substance abuse and organizational problems, Schenker continues his career with the Michael Schenker Group. In 2006, Michael released TALES OF ROCK ‘N’ ROLL: 25 YEARS CELEBRATION, an album that comprised of 19 songs and featured every MSG vocalist on at least one song. Original MSG vocalist Gary Barden took part in the project, singing on the excellent ‘Life Vacation’, and that collaboration between himself and the Mad Axeman turned into a reunion of the two men for the latest MSG offering……IN THE MIDST OF BEAUTY.

In addition to Gary Barden and Michael Schenker, original MSG keyboardist Don Airey (Deep Purple) and drummer Simon Phillips (Toto) re-join the fold to add stability and quality musicianship to the band. The only missing original member is bassist Mo Foster but his absence is no big deal because former Whitesnake and Black Sabbath bassist Neil Murray fills the slot nicely. With the lineup set with strong musicians, and personalities, Michael Schenker has a new found creativity and drive.

If there were any questions or doubts then the album’s opener, ‘City Lights’, dispells them quickly. Schenker immeadiately turns a classic Hard Rock riff that blends into the song with Airey playing just over the top of the guitar, the Murray/Phillips rhythm section keeping solid time, and Barden providing a silky smooth vocal. Michael lets loose on this uptempo rocker with searing solos weaving in and out of the main riff while everyone remains rooted to the song. The thing I notice right away is that this sounds like a true band, the chemistry is obviously there. Another serious Schenker riff powers the faster ‘Competition’ with more expert soloing but retaining a sense of melody to hook the listener in. I really enjoy the organ flourishes that follow the chorus, Don Airey is a master on the keys and he just adds to the overall sound. ‘I Want You’ keeps the momentum high with it’s equally fast pace (listen for Murray & Phillips driving this track) and exotic guitar tone that reminds me of Ritchie Blackmore. Schenker really shines at the solo but it’s his ability to make the main riff a solo and vary it thoughout the song that shows his genius.  More hard rockin’ comes with one of my favorites ‘End Of The Line’. Every song is a Schenker showcase but there is something about this main riff that just stays in my head. Gary Barden starts to branch out a little with his vocals. So far he has been mostly in a calm low to mid-range but there are lines in ‘End Of The Line’ where he gets a bit higher, not for long mind you, but he does add some variety. Listen for Don Airey’s piano as it mirrors the vocal.

Michael is known the world over as a premier Rock guitarist but what is usually never mentioned is his acoustic work. ‘Summerdays’ opens with a nice acoustic intro that moves into a subdued electric power chord. Add the haunting keys and saddened vocals and this ballad sounds like it could have come from the MSG debut of ASSAULT ATTACK (1982). Even the solo is subdued but beautiful nontheless, fitting into the somber tone but also being uplifting. ‘A Night To Remember’ is a UFO/Deep Purple/Rainbow flavored track probably due to the organ being right up front with the guitar in the mix. The song has a ’70s heavy mid-tempo vibe to it that fits Barden’s low-key approach. Schenker solos in and out of the main riff throughout the song proving his guitar hero status and lending that unique eccentricity to the song. ‘Wings Of Emotion’ skirts along the lines of mid-tempo and ballad and sounds very similar to Schenker’s ’70s heyday with UFO. No doubt that UFO singer Phil Mogg and Gary Barden share a similar low-key, bluesy style and mood making the song sound like Michael’s previous band. There are a few Barden highs just like on ‘End Of The Line’ but he keeps an even sound for most of the track. ‘Come Closer’ speeds up some during the verses and solo but it slows come the chorus. This ebb and flow keep things interesting with another solid backing performance from Murray & Phillips (listen for some quick fills by Simon) and Airey continuing to use the organ to complement Michael’s guitar.

Another favorite is ‘The Cross Of Crosses’, a Tony Martin-era Black Sabbath song title if I ever heard one! This has to be one of my favorites on the record because of Michael’s soloing: it’s powerful, passionate, and inspired. When he wants to work, Michael puts some of the most mind blowing guitar to tape. He just seems rejuvenated across the whole album but on ‘The Cross Of Crosses’ he sounds like he has transported back to the late ’70s/early ’80s and is channelling his former self. This song sounds very Euro-Metal without being true Heavy metal, more like a bluesed up hybrid with all the power of the first three MSG records. ‘Na Na’ has some interesting parts and is catchy but the chorus bothers me, not my favorite song on the record. It does have a solid solo (just like every song on the album) and solid accompanying keyboards but Gary Barden shows off his higher register like a grittier David Coverdale on this year’s GOOD TO BE BAD. ‘Na Na’ is uptempo but it does have that slow breakdown throughtout the song to give it variety. ‘I Am The One’ is another solid melodic hard rocker that really hooks the listener in to the chorus with a solid vocal and some cool Schenker leads. That guitar in the chorus is so catchy that I prefer to whistle the guitar than sing the chorus! ‘Ride On My Way’ starts off with an inspired opening intro that features a melodic Schenker lead that weaves in and out of the song. Again, the pairing of Neil Murray and Simon Phillips provide a solid backbone while Don Airey complements the sound with a subdued organ. The vocals are very good from Gary Barden, who uses a higher register on the chorus but you can tell his comfort zone is that mid-range rasp. Uptempo and melodic, ‘Ride On My Way’ ends the album on a high note.

Bottom Line:
Despite all the personal and organizational problems that plagued him in 2006 and most of 2007, Michael Schenker has roared back to his classic form as one of Rock’s premier talents. A solid supporting cast that is almost a full reunion of the original MSG lineup helps stabilize and complement the guitar heroics that make Michael the legend he is. I’ve had an advance copy for about two months and I have not stopped playing it, this album has received at least two spins a day! I kept delaying the review because I didn’t want to spoil my enjoyment by picking it apart but the problem is that there isn’t anything really bad about the album. Every song is well written, every band member’s performance is solid, and the axe-work is pure classic Schenker. If I had to pick one small detail I didn’t like it would have to be the simplistic chorus of ‘Na Na’…..that’s it. I have been somewhat disappointed with Schenker’s last few albums, especially TALES OF ROCK ‘N’ ROLL and ARACHNOPHOBIAC (2003), but also all the cover albums and collaborations. I have always thought that a solid vocalist and lyricist bring out the best in Michael (Phil Mogg, Graham Bonnet, Klaus Meine, Robin McAuley) and Gary Barden continues the excellence that reminds of the first two MSG albums and pairs well with Schenker’s innovative unique style. IN THE MIDST OF BEAUTY is one of my favorite albums of the year.

Favorite songs: ‘City Lights’, ‘Competition’, ‘I Am The One’, ‘The Cross Of Crosses’, ‘Summerdays’……actually, I like every song on the album.