Michael Schenker’s Temple Of Rock: Spirit On A Mission

Schenker’s latest is less than the sum of its parts.

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Given that Temple Of Rock features three of the men who helped make the Scorpions Lovedrive album, you’d be forgiven for hoping for a free-spirited, forty or so minutes of wild-eyed Germanic magic and madness here. A leg on each monitor, someone climbing on someone else’s back not unlike a deranged mountain goat, everyone at the lip of the stage, mouths agape in some silent, shared scream.

Divest yourself of that image; in terms of scope and ambition, this is more a Nissen hut of rock than any kind of temple./o:p

Which is not to completely decry Schenker’s god given talent or ability, he’d have to try very hard to ever be average, but Spirit On A Mission, dispiritingly, rarely raises itself about the everyday or ordinary.

It’s difficult to gauge just where the lack of magic lies, Schenkner’s playing is as distinctive as always, but as each song either slouches towards its drowsy finale or is powered by a thundering double bass drum that puts you in a mind of an out of control train – there’s very little in-between, there’s nothing in the way of light or shade or nuance - it becomes harder and harder to care, either about Schenker’s virtuous work or the sometimes risible lyrics.

It’d be easy to point the finger squarely at Doogie White – who probably has a hundred horrible pulp fiction novels in him if the music gig doesn’t work out – but both Schenker and second guitarist Wayne Findlay take the occasional lyric writing credit too. Though you’d be hard pushed to imagine the writing room where the three of them came up with the couplet ‘As you crawl into her lair/Wide awake but unaware’ (Bulletproof) and thought they were onto a winner.

That said, as a band they inhabit a world where they’re either singing, with an entertaining and lusty vigour, it has to be said (White’s vocal is rarely less than impressive), about a Rock City, a Vigilante Man or a Restless Heart and so endlessly it seems. Though, hats off to the man who can utter the phrase, ’I am poet, I am pilgrim, I am naked in my quest/I am wholly unforgiven/I am pagan, I am blessed’ and with some conviction too.

But you get the picture. They could and really should do better./o:p

Philip Wilding

Philip Wilding is a novelist, journalist, scriptwriter, biographer and radio producer. As a young journalist he criss-crossed most of the United States with bands like Motley Crue, Kiss and Poison (think the Almost Famous movie but with more hairspray). More latterly, he’s sat down to chat with bands like the slightly more erudite Manic Street Preachers, Afghan Whigs, Rush and Marillion.