May 29, 2008

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Michael Schenker Group, In the Midst of Beauty
Inakustik Music, May 13
Back when the Scorpions were trying to show up the other big early ’70s bands and mop the floor with Black Sabbath’s first two albums, a teenage Michael Schenker was doing things with the upper frets of his axe that your Yngwie Malmsteens and whatnot still hate themselves to this day for not being able to mimic. ITMOB isn’t anywhere near that crazed, but it’s a good-enough example of Schenker’s way with “commercial” metal, puffed up with plenty of axe-burning runs and one or two bombastic minor-chord tearjerkers for Harley bikers. Gary Barden’s chalky, low-end Bruce Dickinson vocals are of average timbre but fit the setting (it’s all about the Flying V) as well as one could ask for. Opener “City Lights” is the most “On and On”-like righteousness since, well, “On and On,” but the guitar sound is, thankfully, a leap forward, possessed of a trancelike rapture that indicates Schenker is still into tweaking his sound after all those years. “I Want You” befits “Perfect Strangers”-era Deep Purple. Keyboards are handled by Ozzy conversation-piece Don Airey, the bass by Whitesnake refugee Neil Murray. . BEric W. Saeger