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on 10 February 2014
Formed by German guitar wizard Michael Schenker after leaving hard-rock act UFO these MSG albums followed in much the same vein. There are five albums in this collection, starting with the first in 1980 and ending with the fifth in 1983, they are Michael Schenker Group (****), MSG (*****), One Night at Budokan (****), Assault Attack (***) and Built to Destroy (****). There would only be one more album (Rock Will Never Die) before MSG morphed into the McAuley Schenker Group.
Vocalist Gary Bardem appeared on the first three before being sacked and replaced by ex-Rainbow singer Graham Bonnet (for Assault Attack) who left and was replaced again by Gary Bardem. I prefer Gary Bardem's vocals to Bonnet's which aren't quite to my taste. In fact, MSG are similar in many ways to Bonnet-era Rainbow, alternating between soft and hard rock, very melodic, with exceptional guitar playing by Schenker backed by great musicians like famed drummer Cozy Powell.
I love these album series ( I already have Testament, Pantera, X, Faith No More, Montrose), they're cheap (5 for about a tenner), they don't take up much space and when they're chronological like this collection you can see the progression of the band. MSG probably aren't the best example of this since they played hard rock at the beginning, the middle and at the end but the Testament series sees them go from all out super-fast thrash-attack (The Legacy) to melodic hard-rock (The Ritual).
Although all five albums are remastered, they are lacking the extras of jewel case versions although I don't think the listener is missing much, it depends on how much you want to listen to demos. Personally, I'd rather not bother, if you're a hard-core MSG fan though, you'll probably want those versions. If you want to get a jewel case version of these albums I'd recommend 'MSG' because there's a 1980 concert from the Manchester Apollo.
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on 28 March 2014
This box set brings back memories of being a teenage rocker...loved Schenker in UFO and still think he was oe of the best guitar player of that era. First 3 albums are excellent..especially One Night at Budokan..one of the best live albums ever in my opinion..up there with Strangers in the Night, Tokyo Tapes and Live and Dangerous...Assault Attack is a decent album....but nothing like the previous 2 studio albums...Built to Destroy has to be the worst of the set..still..good value for money..consedring the quality of the first 3 cds
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on 29 February 2016
Michael Schenker is without doubt one of the finest heavy rock guitarists, with a unique style and supreme talent and for anyone still looking to replace their original albums with CDs, this box set is a great option. For new fans checking out Michael Schenker's solo work it's also a great way to begin. Joining forces with singer Gary Barden, the debut album "The Michael Schenker Group" is essentially a Schenker-Barden affair, backed by top session players. Kicking off with "Armed And Ready", any doubts whether the German guitar great could continue the astronomically high standards he had set with UFO were immediately dispelled. And so it continued until the last fading notes of the album-ending epic "Lost Horizons" confirmed that he and Barden were a class songwriting partnership. Although "Tales Of Mystery" revisited "Arbory Hill", from UFO's "Obsession", there's no suggestion that they had run out of ideas. This stunning album must be one of the best heavy rock debuts ever and contains some of Michael's finest work - as if he had a point to prove - the only downside is the oddly lightweight sound to the great Simon Phillips' drums.

"MSG" (album titles weren't a strong point) featured the inspired 'permanent' additions of Cozy Powell, Chris Glen and former UFO band mate Paul Raymond. Schenker's choice of producer - Ron Nevison (from his later UFO days) - created a much heavier sound with Chris Glen's bass and Cozy's drums well to the fore (perhaps over-compensating for the drum sound on the debut album). A bombastic brace of openers sets the tone,but in contrast to the heavyweight emphasis for most of the album, there are also some subtle touches, such as Raymond's harpsichord-sounding keyboard on "On And On". At 7:00 mins long, "But I Want More" is an epic, followed by an absolute gem from Paul Raymond - "Never Trust A Stranger". Think 'Heavy Metal Barry Manilow' and you won't be far off. But there's no slush here, just the purest of ballads with Michael conjuring up the type of solo that only he can. Why this song wasn't released as a single is a complete mystery to me - it could have been massive. "Looking For Love" has classic Michael Schenker melodies and "Secondary Motion" ends with notes hanging in the air - the perfect end to this classic album.

Next up is the live double album "One Night At Budokan". Originally only available as a pricey Japanese import, demand led to a general UK release. Always highly rated by fans, despite having just two MSG albums to draw on, the quality of songs and performances and the inclusion of some classic UFO secured its place in the list of classic live albums, However, it also marked the first departures from the band. Exit stage left, Cozy Powell, Paul Raymond and Gary Barden - the record company wanting a more commercially successful singer.

"Assault Attack" is arguably MSG's most 'musical' album - even if new singer Graham Bonnet's vocals aren't an easy listen, the playing and production are flawless. Martin Birch captured Ted McKenna's (another inspired choice) drum sound perfectly and if there's a better produced heavy rock album out there, I've yet to hear it. The single, "Dancer" ably demonstrates Michael's musical genius - taking the lyric's theme of a dancer falling, his solo begins with notes tripping and spinning from his guitar. If an album this good can possibly have a stand-out track, it has to be "Desert Song". With its cinematic imagery and Schenker bending harmonic chords by flexing the neck of his Flying V, there are shades of UFO's "Love To Love", with long instrumental passages and two sections of perfect, lead guitar. A brilliant composition. The album ends with a barnstorming instrumental "Ulcer", which seems eerily prophetic. Exit Graham Bonnet almost immediately, to be replaced himself by Gary Barden. Sadly, this second stint lacked the inspiration of his first and the earlier magic was largely absent on "Built To Destroy". Paul Raymond was also replaced and an emphasis on 80's keyboards and an over-commercial approach failed to achieve the stellar standards of the first three studio albums. Still, this box set is well worth a purchase, preserving the original listening experience (minus turning the disc over, of course) and fans looking for extras can explore the individual album remasters and the Chrysalis Years box set.
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on 10 June 2016
This is great value and a terrific way to obtain the albums that you wouldn't have bought in their own right. I never liked "Assault Attack" enough to pay full price for it but I do like some of it, so getting it as part of this package whilst also getting the excellent "MSG" album and the live album is a good result. It's nice to see that the running order of the tracks is the same as it was on the original vinyl releases as these albums are from the time when an album was released as a coherent body of work as a whole and not just a collection of songs to pick your favourites from.

I remember back in the day, the British music press used to have a field day slagging off Gary Barden's vocals - which I always thought was unfair. Listening to this confirms my original opinion that he's actually quite good. Back then (before the internet and digital radio) the press in the UK had a false position of undeserved influence and I can't help wondering how many more people would have bought these albums if they had had more chance to hear them and judge for themselves rather than taking the word of a journalist.

Of the 5 albums here, the first two studio albums and the live album are the ones which will impress most people (Michael's guitar playing was at one of its peaks in this era) with songs like "Lost Horizons" and "Attack of the Mad Axeman" showcasing both the songwriting and the playing to great effect. "Assault Attack" is a bit more patchy but when it's good it's good. "Built to Destroy" sounds like an album where the record company exerted pressure to try for a more "commercial" sound and it really doesn't suit this band - it just doesn't sound like a real Michael Schenker album and is possibly the worst album he's ever recorded but it still is not enough to detract from the value of this excellent collection.
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on 13 July 2015
Great stuff. Had the privilege of rehearsing in Nomis rehearsal studios next door to MSG after release of first album. Met the man and more importantly met the god who was Cozy Powell. As a drummer I always thought of Cozy as a bit of a thumper and never really rated him much until I met him and heard him in rehearsal. Wow! Blew my socks off. Drumming later by the original Alex Harvey band and session guy whoe name I temporarily forget is really great. Album three being my favourite although album one with Simon Phillips is the one that everyone remembers. Great buy.
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For the price of just one Cd you get 5 in the Original Album Series by THE MICHAEL SCHENKER GROUP.

The good news is that all the CDs have had their sound remastered however, unlike other similar box sets, there are no extra tracks so I think that the label has missed a trick there.

True the fact that the tracks are re mastered and we should be thankful for that for a heck of a lot of these rereleases are released without remastering - for example the recent 5 CD Fleetwood Mac set.

The added tracks would have been a brilliant bonus which would have attracted the fans in droves.

So we just have the the remastered sound to tempt us.

On the other hand if you have then on vinyl and they are worn out or scratched then you really are on to a winner.

The Albums are
The Michael Schenker Group,
One Night At Budokan (which is Live) ,
Assault Attack and
Built To Destroy.

Each CD comes in a slim card sleeve which is a replica of the original LP cover and the whole lot are housed in a slim, great for storage card case.

Enjoy- shame about the missed extra tracks though?
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on 11 March 2015
I was a huge fan of Michael Schenker during his times in the Scorpions and UFO.
I remember being so exited when he formed MSG and released his first album which was a killer.
As was Budokan - a very fine Live album, though not as good as Tokyo Tapes or Strangers in the Night by his former bands.
The second studio album was pretty good but a bit samey.
Subsequent albums tailed off into mediocrity but are still worth a listen - especially as the price of a single CD
Excellent value for money.
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on 3 March 2016
I was a MSG fan in my younger days after I recovered from the shock of Micheal leaving the Scorpions and then UFO - it took several years! For some reason I had only ever had a few vinyl singles,no albums so this was a very cost effective way of starting off a collection. The albums are good range of their music with most of their more popular tracks included. Some of the sound quality is not the best by today's standards and the packaging is basic but overall happy with my purchase
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on 19 February 2014
If you like MSG and have none of thier back catalog this a is good product to purchase. Highly recomended
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on 29 March 2015
The first three are must have classics and the last two sound way too much like the mid-80's but last song on the last CD fully redeems with classic MSG music!!! For the price this 5 CD package is a must have for MSG fans.
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