Get more guitar shred in your diet: Watch “The Michael Schenker Group Live in Tokyo 1997″

By on July 12, 2018

For those of you who feel you don’t get enough guitar shred in your diet, we’ve provided a short menu of live concert performances by the legendary “Master of the Flying V,” German-born Michael Schenker.

The Michael Schenker Group – Live in Tokyo 1997 — recorded on March 19, 1997 — features highlights from Schenker’s entire career, including tracks he’d first recorded with ’70s legends the Scorpions and UFO, along with a healthy serving of several of his MSG and solo Schenker compositions, twelve of which hadn’t been recorded live before.

You can see — and hear — all the shredding over on Night Flight Plus.

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The Michael Schenker Group circa 1997 — Michael Schenker (lead/acoustic guitars); David Van Landing (vocals; he died in 2015); Barry Sparks (bass; Seth Bernstein (rhythm/acoustic guitars/keyboards); Shane Gaalaas (drums/acoustic guitars); and Leif Sunin (vocals/rhythm & acoustic guitars) — offer up blistering versions of the Scorpions’ “In the Search of the Peace of Mind” and “Another Piece of Meat” and eight songs originally tracked by the British band UFO, of which Schenker was a key member between 1973 and 1978.

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UFO ultimately reached their peak in popularity during the mid-70s, with FM-friendly heavy rock fodder arriving just in time to keep British heavy metal alive.

Before Schenker had joined their ranks, they’d released three albums with original guitarist Mick Bolton, who quit in 1972.

Thereafter, UFO worked with guitarist Larry Wallis (he lasted until October 1972) and Bernie Marsden, who recorded two demos with UFO before he abruptly left while on tour with Germany’s Scorpions in mid-1973.

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Marsden’s departure led to UFO working with another Scorpions guitarist, Michael Schenker, who was just seventeen at the time.

Schenker — who at age eleven had played his first Scorpions nightclub gig with his brother Rudolf — debuted with the Scorpions on their debut album, Lonesome Crow, when he was sixteen.

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Schenker played with both bands at first, but ultimately, and despite the fact he didn’t speak any English at the time, Schenker accepted UFO’s offer to make the job permanent in ’73.

During his long and storied career, Schenker also additioned to play lead guitar with Aerosmith in 1979, after Joe Perry had left, but stormed out after producer Gary Lyons cracked jokes about the Nazis.

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Schenker also was the first guitarist Ozzy Osbourne called to replace the late Randy Rhoads, in 1982, but his demands upon joining — including his own private jet — forced Ozzy to look elsewhere.

He also, quite briefly, replaced Robbin Crosby in Ratt, appearing on their 1990 “MTV Unplugged” performance.

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Read more about Michael Schenker below.

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Schenker joined UFO just as they changed labels, signing with Chrysalis Records.

He made his debut on their next album, Phenomenon, UFO’s third — released in May 1974 — which featured mostly tracks written by Schenker and UFO’s lead singer, Phil Mogg.

The album chronicled their successful transition from progressive European art/space rockers to a harder-edged heavy rock sound.

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“Doctor Doctor” failed to land on the UK Singles chart, but a live single version, from UFO’s 1979 album Strangers in the Night, would become the band’s first U.S. hit.

It’s also been covered by lots of other bands, including Iron Maiden, who play UFO’s version at their own concerts before taking the stage.

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UFO followed up Phenomenon with 1975’s Force It.

The title was actually supposed to be a pun on the word “faucet” although the Hipgnosis-designed cover art might have depicted something altogether different, and it ended up getting censored in the U.S.

The couple posing in the shower on the cover photo were Genesis P-Orridge (the girl) and Cosi Fanni Tutti (the boy), later of Psychic TV.

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No Heavy Petting (1976) was rush-released while the band were busy on tour — the 1997 MSG band play “Natural Thing” from the album — but UFO followed it up in 1977 with Lights Out, which we think is their best offering with Schenker.

It remains their highest charting album in the United States.

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Lights Out featured several classic UFO standouts, including the timeless title track, the riff-a-rific “Too Hot to Handle,” and a ballad “Love to Love.”

We’d be remiss if we didn’t mention that this was also the album featuring their cover of Love‘s “Alone Again Or” (written by Bryan Maclean). UFO’s single reached #23 on the Billboard Hot 100.

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Schenker’s tenure with UFO was becoming turbulent and troubled, and he ended up quitting UFO a few times, sometimes walked off stage mid-song.

After first splitting in June of ’77 when they were just finishing the UK part of their “Lights Out” tour, he later rejoined and completed the tour before quitting again in 1978.

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In the summer of 1978, UFO released their seventh studio album with Schenker, Obsession, partly recorded at an abandoned post office in Los Angeles, with the Record Plant Mobile truck, as well as C.P. McGregors, on Western Avenue in L.A.

The Hipgnosis-designed cover photo was taken at UCLA Veterinary surgery facilities.

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Schenker briefly re-joined the Scorpions in late ’78 — writing and playing guitar on three songs, including “Another Piece of Meat” for 1979’s Lovedrive — and briefly toured with them, all before realizing he really didn’t like playing other people’s songs.

In 1979, he formed the Michael Schenker Group, which has its own troubled history you can read about elsewhere.

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We also have Michael Schenker Group: Live in Tokyo – 30th Anniversary Japan Tour, and  Michael Schenker’s Temple of Rock – On a Mission: Live in Madrid, which we’re told “leaves connoisseurs of the international music scene rapturously clicking their tongues in appreciation.”

All three Michael Schrenker Group live concert titles are now streaming on Night Flight Plus.

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About Bryan Thomas

Bryan Thomas has been a freelancing writer/critic for All Music Guide, and a contributor to Launch, Music Connection, Big Takeover and numerous other publications and entertainment websites, blogs and zines, most of them long gone. He's written more than sixty sets of liner notes. He’s also worked for over twenty years at mostly reissue record labels -- prior to that he worked in bookstores and record stores, going all the way back to the original vinyl daze. He lives in the Miracle Mile neighborhood of Los Angeles, CA.