MICHAEL SCHENKER GROUP – By Invitation Only (2011)

MICHAEL SCHENKER GROUP - By Invitation Only (2011)

UK label Store For Music is releasing a new Michael Schenker cover album: “By Invitation Only”.
In fact, this is a reissue of ‘Heavy Hitters’ from 2005 (also known as ‘Doctor Doctor: The Kulick Sessions’ in the US), with the addition of extra tracks.
Each song on “By Invitation Only” was recorded with a revolving all-star cast of guest musicians and Schenker being the backbone providing guitar leads for all tracks.

A covers album is always is risk, more considering the real classics versioned here. In my opinion, most of them are successful on this recording.
The 3 ‘new’ added tracks include Iron Maiden’s “Run To The Hills”, which sees Schenker reunite with Robin McAuley handling the vocals. A British classic very well done.
The second is the highlight off the disc because it is a re-recording of McAuley Schenker Group’s “Save Yourself”. Robin McAuley still sounds great and the pairing of Schenker / McAuley is Schenker’s finest moment after leaving UFO.
The Rush song “Finding My Way” gets lots of groove with Sebastian Bach laying down solid vocals and Schenker matching the technical brilliance of Alex Lifeson.
Schenker in top form providing some great leads on “All Shook Up” with a smooth Joe Lynn Turner on vocals.
For Schenker fans it is interesting to hear Jeff Scott Soto’s take on the Mogg/Schenker penned UFO classic “Doctor Doctor”. Schenker’s playing doesn’t top the original, here lacks nerve and he should have been more inventive to make the song standout.

One of best tracks of this CD is “Blood Of The Sun”, which features a great performance by veteran Leslie West on vocals. Schenker is really inspired here, with a lot of groove.
Sabbath’s classic “War Pigs” has been covered a lot, but this is still a great take on it. I am not a big fan of Tim ‘Ripper’ Owens vocals, but he really fits on this version. Schenker playing is very good getting in the ‘zone’ on this one, mainly because he has time to stretch.
It is always good to hear Mark Slaughter’s voice on “I’m Not Talking”. Cool one.
Tommy Shaw is one of my all time vocalists, but him and Schenker fails to impress on Pink Floyd’s “Money”. Same with Cream’s classic “Politician”. Michael is not too good playing blues bars, he’s simply too much shredder.
To my ears, Gary Moore’s cover “Out In The Fields” is very good. Since Moore and Schenker come from the same general school of thought, I really enjoyed his take on this classic. The biggest surprise here is hearing original MSG vocalist, Gary Barden, turning in a fine performance.

I have gotten quite a bit of enjoyment out of “By Invitation Only”. Have seen years ago poor reviews of the original release, but you won’t find one here.
To me, this is a covers disc that doesn’t feel like one. It could be because the only constant is Michael Schenker on guitar.
Most the song choices and performances are great, with some really stellar vocal appearances and Schenker actually sounding like Schenker should be.
A very nice appetizer to the up-coming new MSG album in september.
Worth the purchase? Definitively yes.

01. Run To The Hills
Vocals: Robin McAuley
Rhythm Guitar: Pete Fletcher (PYMMY LOVE CIRCUS)
Bass: Tony Franklin (THE FIRM)

02. Save Yourself
Vocals: Robin McAuley

03. Finding My Way
Vocals: Sebastian Bach

04. All Shook Up
Vocals: Joe Lynn Turner (DEEP PURPLE, RAINBOW)
Bass: Jeff Pilson (DOKKEN, DIO)
Drums: Aynsley Dunbar (WHITESNAKE, UFO)

05. Blood Of The Sun
Vocals: Leslie West (MOUNTAIN)
Bass: Rudy Sarzo (DIO, QUIET RIOT)
Drums: Simon Wright (DIO, AC/DC)

06. Doctor Doctor
Drums: Brett Chassen (BRET MICHAELS)

07. War Pigs
Vocals: Tim “Ripper” Owens (ICED EARTH, JUDAS PRIEST)
Drums: Aynsley Dunbar

08. I’m Not Talking
Vocals: Mark Slaughter (SLAUGHTER)
Drums: Aynsley Dunbar
Bass: Jeff Pilson

09. Money
Vocals: Tommy Shaw (STYX)
Sax: Edgar Winter (EDGAR WINTER BAND)
Bass: Tony Levin (PETER GABRIEL)
Drums: Mike Baird (JOURNEY)

10. Out In The Fields
Vocals: Gary Barden (MSG)
Drums: Brett Chassen

11. Hair Of The Dog
Vocals: Paul Di’Anno -IRON MAIDEN)
Bass: Phil Soussan (OZZY OSBOURNE)
Drums; Vinny Appice (BLACK SABBATH, DIO)

12. I Don’t Live Today
Vocals: Sebastian Bach (ex-SKID ROW)
Drums: Eric Singer (KISS)
Bass: Tony Franklin (THE FIRM, BLUE MURDER)

13. Politician
Vocals/Bass: Jeff Pilson (DOKKEN, DIO)
Drums: Brett Chassen


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