Way back in 1981, the Michael Schenker Group toured Japan before legions of screaming fans. Despite the language barrier, crowds were receptive and energetic. The band recorded one of the stops and this became the classic live disc One Night at Budokan (BGO).The album was originally released in 1982 and remastered in 1996.
The track listing for One Night at Budokan:
- Armed And Ready (Schenker/Barden) 6:20
- Cry For The Nations (Schenker/Barden) 5:32
- Attack Of The Mad Axeman (Schenker/Barden) 4:50
- But I Want More (Schenker/Barden) 5:24
- Victim Of Illusion (Schenker/Barden) 6:18
- Into The Arena (Schenker) 4:45
- On And On (Schenker/Barden) 5:32
- Never Trust A Stranger (Raymond) 6:07
- Let Sleeping Dogs Lie (Schenker/Barden/Glen/Raymond/Powell) 7:18
- Courvoisier Concerto (Schenker/Raymond) 3:42
- Lost Horizons (Schenker/Barden) 7:22
- Doctor Doctor (Schenker/Mogg) 5:30
- Are You Ready To Rock (Schenker/Barden) 7:10
The album is comprised of songs from the first two MSG albums as well as Schenker’s work with UFO. The MSG lineup for this recording include Gary Barden (vocals), Paul Raymond (rhythm guitar), Chris Glen (bass), Cozy Powell (drums) and Schenker.
So, is One Night at Budokan the best live album of all time? In a word, no. It is, however, pretty damn good and features some of the best guitar work of the 1980s. There’s no doubt that Michael Schenker is a guitar machine – his skill is largely unmatched, saved for the likes of Eddie VanHalen. Even with Schenker’s guitar ability, the real hero here is the production: the drums sound huge. The wall of sound fills your speakers and pretty much demand attention. The late Cozy Powell really shines here. This is, perhaps, his finest effort with the Michael Schenker Group.
What are the highlights? There are a lot, but my favorite songs are “Doctor Doctor,” “On and On” and “Cry For the Nations.” “Doctor Doctor” is a favorite for obvious reasons, but “On and On” has a wicked introduction that you really just need to hear to believe. “Cry for the Nations” has pounding drums, which I love and give One Night at Budokan depth. It’s this depth that separate this live effort from so many other releases that just don’t quite replicate the actual concert experience.
Back to “Doctor Doctor.” The intro clapping and the transition to the guitar solo are really all you need here...except the song just gets better and better, thanks to a slow build in the arrangement. It’s pretty obvious the crowd realizes this is the apex of the show, because there is more ambient noise – from cheering, clapping and the like.
The verdict? Required listening for any Glam fan wanting a historical foundation of guitar rock. Michael Schenker was doing crazy guitar licks before Eddie VanHalen but he never really got his due. One Night at Budokan is a good representation of Schenker’s live skill and status as bona fide guitar legend.
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