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Over the course of his amazing 30 year career, European guitar hero Michael Schenker has made a ton of great music and amassed a loyal worldwide following in the process. Accomplishing the hat trick of success with the Scorpions, UFO and his own Michael Schenker Group (MSG), he has proven that his groundbreaking guitar playing and inventive rock/metal arrangements are the key component in any musical situation in which he ventures. But while Schenker’s fans will undoubtedly find something to like about his two latest instrumental, solo efforts Adventures of the Imagination and Dreams and Expressions, it will probably have more to do with their fascination and dedication to the artist, than the quality of his product.
Adventures of the Imagination is a fairly disappointing Michael Schenker release. The spark of his usually creative compositional skills, not to mention the fire of his guitar playing are noticeably absent. As a result, the songs themselves come across as uninspired and stale. Though the album’s opening track “Achtung Fertig, Los” may bear a slight resemblance to the Dixie Dregs, it’s still a marginal song at best. The same can be said for “At the End of the Day”, in which Schenker solos over an acoustic guitar progression that’s reminiscent of Boston’s “Don’t Look Back”. If there are highlights they come courtesy of the two epic numbers “Three Fish Dancing” and “Aardvark in a VW Smoking a Cigar” that hint at classic Michael Schenker. The record’s most impressive number is the moody, uncharacteristically synth-driven, closing track “Hand in Hand”. I couldn’t think of a more eventful track to round out a very uneventful record.
Dreams and Expressions suffers from the same compositional disease that plagued Adventures of the Imagination. The album boasts 21 untitled tracks that, as it’s title suggests, are expressions, thoughts, ideas and other musical fragments. To Schenker’s credit, he does an excellent job of seamlessly tying all of these thoughts together giving the record some sort of cohesiveness. The only problem is that the thoughts, once again, are completely uninspired and fairly unspectacular. Though Schenker’s classic stylings are certainly more prevalent here, it’s just not enough to save this record from absolute meteocrity.
I wouldn’t go as far as to say that Schenker just doesn’t have it anymore. After all, last year’s brilliant UFO reunion album Covenant, showcased some of Michael Schenker’s finest moments. Although he may have remembered to bring his most imaginative and creative material with him for that great record, he totally forgot to bring a little of the same to Adventures of the Imagination and Dreams and Expressions.