Michael Wagener has been such a big influence on rock and metal style music for decades, having his name associated with a great number of albums in my collection and I’m sure in yours as well. He has credits from producing to mastering, to mixing to recording and some of my all time favourite albums appear to be touched by his hand of gold. A partial list of his stunning work can be found here and I bet you’d be hard pressed to say you didn’t own at least a few of these gems.
One band that he worked with that may not have such a large name over here in North America is Bonfire. I myself was only recently turned onto these Germans originally founded way back in 1972 in Ingolstadt. The band was formed by Hans Ziller and Claus Lessmann (both in the current Bonfire line-up) and they played locally garnering a following and even a record deal under the moniker of Cacumen. Enduring several roster changes over the next few years and signing to BMG also saw them updating their look to the popular 80’s hard rock/glam style and switching to the more marketable name of Bonfire by 1986.
Wagener worked on their second and third releases, 1987’s Fireworks and 1989’s Point Blank, both of which he produced, recorded and mixed, the latter achieving gold record sales. Fireworks was completed with a guest drummer, Ken Mary who you may recognise from House of Lords, Impellitteri, Alice Cooper or even Accept, as the actual drummer was fired during during the writing sessions. Before the release of Point Blank more line up changes ensued including the dismissal of
Hans Ziller due to his issues with the record company and the band’s management. Ziller was still credited on the record as 10 of the 17 songs included here were composed by him. Guest Freddy Curci, known from Alias and Sheriff, also appeared on the record. At one point after this, Lessmann himself even departed the band and they continued with a new vocalist. Both Ziller and Lessmann are now not only back in control of Bonfire, but the only holders of the rights to the name. The latest effort is 2013’s Schanzerherz which was made for Ingolstadt’s football (soccer) team.
Here’s a couple from Fireworks……
…..and one from Point Blank.
Both albums are a great listen from cover to cover and are only a selection of the music contained in the thirteen studio albums that Bonfire has released.