Writing this review in January 2016 of Michael Schenker’s Temple of Rock latest album “Spirit on a Mission” may seem to many of you a bit late in the day and an odd thing to do now as the album has been out since March 2015 and many of you probably have by now listened to all 12 tracks many times by now and put a few firmly into your personal favourites list.
Well then, why bother I hear some of you ask? The answer is that I am off very soon to review Michael Schenker/Temple of Rock when they play their Edinburgh show from this tour on January 22nd (review link will be here), and just in case anyone out there who is going to the show does not yet have this album, then this may be a timely review.
Many reviews have already been written about “Spirit on A Mission”, so that makes coming up with something new to say a bit difficult, (and a track by track review a bit superfluous), and many of those reviews are by people far more competent than myself to comment on the obvious technical musicianship talents of the band consisting of
Michael Schenker – lead guitar and rhythm
Doogie White – vocals
Wayne Findlay – 7 string guitar and keyboards
Francis Buchholz– bass
Herman Rarebell – drums
The twelve tracks on this album were co-written by Michael Schenker and Doogie White, and while this whole project (album and band) is very much looking forward to new music, new horizons and new sounds, “Spirit on A Mission” is very much looking back to those core sounds of earlier times.
Anyone out there old enough to remember those classic sounds of The Scorpions, UFO and MSG will be at home with this album. This is the core sound that probably got many of this band into playing music in the first place and many people out there listening to it, but it is definitely not a band on a nostalgia trip.
“Spirit on A Mission” has everything you would expect on it – classic rifts and intros, driving rhythm section, powerful vocals, but beneath all of that gloss there are some great lyrics. More importantly, this is not an album of 12 assorted tracks, but 12 tracks that belong together and have musical continuity to them. There is, when you stand back and view the album as a whole, an almost film soundtrack quality to everything (given the right film project to pair this album with).
The songs on this album are
1. Live and Let Live
3. Vigilante Man
4. Rock City
5. Saviour Machine
6. Something Of The Night
7. All Our Yesterdays
9. Let The Devil Scream
10. Good Times
11. Restless Heart
Do I have some favourites here – yes a few, but for different reasons. The introductory track “Live and Let Live” is just a perfect opener taking us all immediately into the classic sounds that everyone on this album is best known for, but favourites for me are “All Our Yesterdays” - for the lyrics and “Let The Devil Scream” – just love the almost church organ like introduction on this one. Picking a few tracks out here is actually quite difficult as every track on this album is here for a reason and has a place here in the continuity of the project. This really is an album that needs to be listened to as a whole and not picked out by the odd track. Sometimes I think a generation growing up on downloading individual tracks only lose so much by doing that. Yes, you get your favourite track, but on an album like this you lose the overall concept doing it this way.
Also worth listening out for is Wayne Findlay playing a seven string guitar. As Michael Schenker is quoted in the press release for this album “I always liked that low sound and asked Wayne to look into developing it on the 7 string” – develop it they have and it does add a distinctive sound here.
This development of lower sounds musically shows clearly that Michael and the band are still out there looking for new things to do, new sounds to play with, but at the same time they have never abandoned the core of what they obviously still love playing and their audience still want to hear.