Michael Schenker Group / Michael Schenker

The Michael Schenker Group

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The concept may seem patently absurd, but guitarists were held in such high regard during the late '70s and early '80s that many elite players were given to tantrums and notions of self-worship usually reserved only for singers and divas. And maybe no one better exemplified this six-string megalomania than German guitarist Michael Schenker, whose turbulent flights of emotional fancy had already earned him the "Mad Michael" nickname during his mercurial tenure with Brit rockers UFO. Of course, this behavior simply went into overdrive when the guitar legend launched the Michael Schenker Group with a 1980 self-titled album, which was at times as unstable as the man himself. Witness the downright weird, Jimmy Buffet-like calypso melodies that introduce "Cry for the Nations" or the absurd title bestowed upon the delicate solo guitar piece "Bijou Pleasurette." But fear not, as for the most part the album is dominated by straightforward hard rockers very much in the UFO vein. Highlights like "Looking Out from Nowhere" and "Lost Horizons" are laced with the pomp and bombast typical of the era, and storming opener "Armed and Ready" is arguably Schenker's finest solo track. Vocalist Gary Barden wisely stays out of the way, his understated style (not unlike that of UFO singer Phil Mogg) placing all emphasis where it is intended: Schenker's stunning axe work. In spite of its random quirks, the general consensus among fans holds that this remains the MSG's best work.

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