Hardrock Legends Vol. 1 (Rockpalast/MIG)

Michael Schenker Group

Hardrock Legends Vol. 2 (Rockpalast/MIG)

UK atmospherics UFO became a hard rock staple beginning in 1973 when ex-Scorpions lead guitarist Michael Schenker signed on. After he quit, Paul Chapman rejoined the quintet for 1980's No Place To Run, produced by the Beatles' wizard of Oz, George Martin. Schenker's boots prove too big to fill here, though bassist Pete Way is all of Def Leppard in looks and package. Once they dispense with new material halfway through their 70 minutes, an initially rough "Love To Love" bleeds a couple pints of metal soul, and the hits ("Too Hot To Handle," "Lights Out," "Doctor, Doctor") do the rest. The Germans of Dortmund yell for "Rock Bottom" throughout and finally get hammered. That's a bar band cover compared to its author's rendition the following year in Hamburg. Shirtless in his leather bomber jacket, Schenker launches "Into the Arena" before unleashing a 10-minute "Rock Bottom," fast as a punk rock symphony and five times as pure. The Hanover-hatched axe murderer's peerless combination of searing speed and post-blues melody on a Flying V are well matched by his UFO-templated MSG, led by Phil Mogg impersonator Gary Barden, bruiser Cozy Powell on drums, and UFO's Paul Raymond on guitar and keys. A lean set list culled from Schenker's solo debut ("Feels Like a Good Thing," "Lookin' Out From Nowhere," "Lost Horizons") and UFO standards ("Natural Thing") notch kill after kill, preserved also on a parallel CD. Lights out.

(UFO) **

(MSG) ****

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