Scorpions - Lonesome Crow (Rhino) 1972
1. I'm Goin' Mad
Humble beginnings for Germany's Scorpions. The Scorp's first album features guitar virtuoso Michael Schenker as a full-time band member. His lead work is peppered all over this album. However, despite tihs fact, this is not the mighty metal album you might expect. Rather, what "Lonesome Crow" is a 70's psychedelic trip. Basically, they weren't even trying to be heavy yet, with the possible exception of "I'm Going Mad" and arguable, the title track. Very strange (or trippy) hearing this and comparing it to almost everything else the band has done. After recording this album, Micheal Schenker left to join UFO, replaced by Uli Jon Roth.
This is an awesome two CD Italian import that comes in a hardbound black book. The front cover features a silver foil stamp of the "Virgin Killer" girl and the Scorpions logo (poorly scanned above). Inside the hardcover binding there is a 28-page book that includes all the original cover art (pictured above) plus a commentary written in both English and Italian as well as all the lyrics. Actually both the "In Trance" and "Virgin Killer" covers were banned in the U.S. (with good reason on "Virgin Killer") The "Virgin Killer" pictured above has been censored by myself as I do not support child porn and because frankly, it's in poor taste. The "In Trance" pictured above is slightly different than the one in this package as well. The cover art in this import shows the ladies breast. The CD also features the original mixes from both albums plus, as bonus tracks, the complete "Fly to the Rainbow" album. The CDs themselves are picture discs with the actual covers printed in full color on the discs as well. Great package.
Scorpions - Taken by Force (RCA) 1977
1. Steamrock Fever
Why is it that some of the greatest albums are the hardest to find. Geez, this disc should be in every stinking cd store as it is one of the Scorpions best early albums, if not the best. Check out these great song titles: "Steamrock Fever", "The Sails of Charon" (covered by Testament & Yngwie Malmsteen), "He's a Woman - She's a Man" (covered by Helstar & Helloween), "We'll Burn the Sky", "Born to Touch Your Feelings." Not a bad song on this one. Actually "Steamrock Fever" sounds a bit closer to the bands 80's sound than anything they had done previously. Had to utilize my German connection to find this one. I'm not even sure if this one was ever pressed to disc in the U.S. Germany has all the good metal! The Japanese version has a different cover, although it is not any better than this one in my opinion.
Scorpions - Tokyo Tapes (RCA) 1978
Hooray, finally scored a double disc pressing of this classic live album. The mastering is not quite as good as the recently released single disc version, but at least this version doesn't cut out any songs from the original vinyl version. (Thanks Olaf!) For a more in depth review, see the review of the remastered version below.
Scorpions - Tokyo Tapes (EMI) 1978
1. "All Night Long"
I knew that a classic like this wouldn't stay out of print forever. Usually when killer albums like this disappear it means that it will be re-released, usually with newly remastered sound and updated graphics and photos. Well, that certainly is the case with this 1978 heavy metal classic. The cd has an excellent full color, 8-page insert with nicely written liner notes and plenty of live photos. The re-release has one slight drawback, in that the track "Polar Nights" has been deleted to fit the double album set on one CD. Lucky for me I have friends in high places that can burn me a copy of the missing tracks on a separated cdr. Following in the footsteps of the illustrious "Made in Japan" by Deep Purple, the Scorpions manage to bring together some of their best material from the 70's era and make them sound even better than the originals. The mix is a bit more raw giving the tracks a heavier feel. Also similar to Deep Purple is the band takes the songs and changes the arrangements around a bit, adding in more jams. "Fly to the Rainbow" is a perfect example of this. Most glaring deletion from this live set is "Virgin Killer" which apparently was not included as part of this show. Funnist moment on this disc is hearing the heavy German accent on the short Elvis interlude, "jew aint nothing but a houndog." This particular copy is German. As far as I know this disc is still unaavailable in the U.S. Thanks James for the hook up.
1. Loving You Sunday
"Lovedrive" is a GREAT album! There is not a bad song in the lot, although "Is Anybody There?" is a bit strange with an almost reggae sound. This is the album where the Scorpions really started to take on their classic 80's sound. This was partially due to Uli Jon Roth quiting the group and Rudolf Schenker, Michael Schenker, Mathias Jabs completely taking over the reigns. Of course, egomaniac Micheal Schenker's stay would be short. "Loving You Sunday Morning" and "Another Piece of Meat" are both classic Scorpions heavy metal romps. The title track has a sound not unlike UFO, though Michael Schenker is not listed as a writer on the song.
"Animal Magnetism" is the Scorpions seventh studio album and the first to feature guitarist Matthias Jabs, who would become an integral part of the band from here on out. It was also the last album that the Scorpions would release before becoming a worldwide arena metal band. Old school metal-heads like myself cannot help but begin to headband to the likes of "Zoo." Cha-chunk, cha-chunk, cha-chunk! Other classics are the epic ballad "Lady Starlight", the ultra-catchy "Make It Real" and the upbeat heavy metal rocker "Don't Make No Promises". Despite my glowing love for the album, I can remember some fans thought the album was a disappointment in comparison to "Lovedrive" and "Taken by Force".
Blackout was the Scorpions' first majorly successful album, due to the crossover to pop metal mixed with the Scopions long time use of the power ballad. Still "Blackout" is undeniable heavy metal. Just listen to the riffs on "Dynamite," and the mid paced "No One Like You." Vocalist Klaus Meine had a throat operation prior the record's release, and surprisingly, his voice sounds more melodic and lively than ever. Guitarists Rudolf Schenker and Matthias Jabs sound more aggressive and energietic than any past Scorpions album, including those with Micheal Schenker. OK, maybe this was the beginning of a downward slid to pop-land, but I still think this is one heck of a molten platter. When I started looking to replace my Scorpions albums, this was the first one I went looking for.
'Dynamite' has been covered by Paradox.
FINALLY! I knew if I held out long enough I'd find a used copy of this disc. With almost all the songs on their 'best of' discs I really didn't want to pay full price to replace my vinyl copy of this album. Anyhow, 'Love At First Sting' was a huge seller for the Scorps thanks mostly to lead single and video "Rock You Like a Hurricane", which is an FM radio staple til this day. Overall, however, there really is not a bad song on this disc. Some have said this was the band's biggest sellout. Perhaps it is a bit more radio friendly than their back catalogue, but in reality "Love At First Sting" is still an excellent heavy metal platter.
Scorpions - World Wide Live (Mercury) 1985
1. "Countdown" [instrumental] (0:44)
I love live albums! Live albums tend to show what a band is made of. They usually also beef up the songs, making them more raw and biting. The Scorps "World Wide Live" is no exception. This is an incredible set of songs, performed without a single flaw! The live energy that is present at a Scorpions show is captured here. The original Mercury CD reissue left four songs off that were on the original two album set. Omitted are: "Can't Get Enough (part I)" (2:16), "Six String Sting" (4:15), "Can't Get Enough (part II)" (1:54) , and "Another Piece of Meat" (3:46). The remastered version has all the songs and has far better sound to boot.
1. "Don't Stop at
the Top" (4:03)
Having grown up with the Scorpions, loving the Uli Roth years and everything they released up and through "Love At First Sting", "Savage Amusement" came as a bit of a shock. The album came nearly four years after "Love At First Sting" during the height of ultra-slick production. Everyone seemed to want to sound like Bon Jovi and Def Leppard in '88. Both bands were seeing huge success with a very watered-down, ultra-slick pop sound. Even mega-bands like Kiss and the Scorpions were following this trend. (Kiss released the ultra-slick "Crazy Nights" just a year before.) The Scorps were obviously experimenting with their sound and trying to fit in with this era. Despite being produced by longtime producer Dieter Dierks, the sound here is decidedly more radio friendly and incorporates more synthesized sounds and digital drums. For the most part the guitars play a secondary role to the vocals and drums. The Scorps have never been a band to write thought-provoking or masterful lyrics but with three songs using the word "love" in the title, it's fairly obvious that the band were baiting their hooks with sugar for the trendy radio crowd rather than their core audience; the rockers and metal-heads.
However, that is not to say the album is a total flop. There are a few stand-out cuts. "The Rhythm of Love" is an undeniably catchy, poppy, anthem. "Media Overkill" is a fun straight-forward hard rocker with some talk-box style guitar playing. The song reminds me slightly of Tesla. "Passion Rules the Game" is a slightly progressive and hooky, melodic rock song. The amusingly titled "We Let It Rock....We Let It Roll" is an attempt at another "Rock You Like a Hurricane" or "Blackout", but falls short due to the over-slick production that robs the song of all it's heavy metal cojones. "Walking on the Edge" is a good ballad though it isn't quite on the same level as "Holiday" or "Lady Starlight".
Overall, "Savage Amusement" is one of the weaker points in the Scorpions catalog. The album doesn't have any fist-pounding metal; no stand-up and shout anthems and very little of the band's signature riffs to speak of. The album as a whole just lacks energy and spark. Despite a few bright spots it's a bit lifeless and doesn't compare to the band's classic catalog.
"Crazy World" was
the Scorpions attempt to get back to their heavy metal roots a bit. While it
is far from my favorite Scorpions disc, the songs remain somewhat heavy, melodic
and catchy. One thing is for sure, of their 1990's discs, this one stands up
above the rest. "Wind of Change" is probably one of the band's best ballads
and also one of my favorite Scorpions songs. The song celebrates the political
changes in Eastern Europe at the time, including the fall of the Berlin Wall,
and the increasing freedom in the communist bloc, which later led to the fall
of the USSR. Apparently the song was recorded in Spanish and Russian, as well
as English. As far as I can tell, the Russian version was only released on an
obscure 45 RPM single as the b-side to "Send Me an Angel". I actually found
a copy of the single in a box of crap at a bookstore in Phoenix, AZ for 50¢
including the jukebox tag. "Wind of Change" is widely known in Europe
as the song of German reunification. The song ran on the charts worldwide including
#1 in Germany, the Netherlands, #2 on the UK Singles Chart and #4 on the US
Billboard Hot 100.
1. "Alien Nation"
"Face the Heat" is the twelfth studio album from the Scorpions. The CD opens with a scorcher of a track called "Alien Nation", which I always thought was the strongest track on the album. It's a slow and heavy rocker, not unlike "The Zoo". However, there are several other standout tracks as well. "Taxman Woman" is a heavy rocker that sounds like it could have been on "Blackout". "Unholy Nation" is a hard rock song that opens with a crunchy guitar riff. The chorus of the song has a simple, memorable hook that could have come right off a Kiss record. Likewise, "Ship of Fools" is an up-beat hard rocker with a meaty guitar riff. "Woman" is one of the album's ballads, but in reality it's a straight-up blues song. The track features some nice guitar work and some outstanding singing by Klaus Meine. "Under the Same Sun" is a more typical Scorpions-type ballad.
When a band has a catalog as big and decade spanning as The Scorpions, people's opinions on their best releases will usually vary greatly. For me I became a Scorpions fan in the very early 1980's with the purchase of the single "The Zoo". From there I discovered "Lovedrive" and the wonderful Uli Roth years. Soon after they released their powerhouse metal album "Blackout" and I was hooked. As such, those 70's and early 80's albums have long been my favorites. I also always felt their output went seriously downhill after the "World Wide Live" album, which many fans of those early albums would agree with me on. However, there are many, many fans who list albums like "Crazy World", "Savage Amusement" and "Face the Heat" as their favorites. It's sometimes impossible to get past the nostalgic hold music holds to enjoy the newer music as much. I know that's true of me as "Face the Heat" was an album I liked but somehow just never got heavily into, until now. Prompted by a fan who suggested I give this disc another spin, I found myself enjoying it as much as some of those older Scorps albums.
"Face the Heat" was produced by the band and the late Bruce Fairbairn, who has also produced for AC/DC, Yes, Aerosmith and several other legendary artists. My CD copy is a German pressing and has two bonus tracks, both ballads. The regular album ended with a ballad called "Lonely Nights", so with the added two ballads, the German pressing becomes a bit too ballad heavy at the end.
'Live Bites'? Sounds like a snack, or a breakfast cereal. As much as I love the Scorpions their catalog really began to go downhill after "Love at First Sting." However, this live disc does a pretty good job of pulling out the better material from the '88-'93 material. The inclusion of "In Trance" was a nice bonus as well. I really wish they would perform more Uli material. In anycase, along with the live tracks there are three dull, new tracks. There are two barely conscious power ballads and one mediocre pop metal song. A bit brutal I suppose, but when a band has released such killer material in the past, hearing this type of brainless material is sort of annoying. I wonder if these were just left over tracks from past discs. Hmmmmm. In anycase, the live material is enjoyable.
Saw the Scorps live in 2002 with Whitesnake and Dokken opening. Of their newer material they only played "Tease Me, Please Me" and "Wind of Change." Thankfully nothing was played off of their 1999 turd "Eye II Eye". Otherwise they played mostly material from "Animal Magnatism", "Lovedrive", "Blackout" and "Love at First Sting." I was surprised to hear them play such classic material as "Coast to Coast" and "Lovedrive". They even played "We'll Burn the Sky" from the amazing "Taken By Force." Great show. I guess the Scorps finally figured out what their fans want to hear. Here's hoping for another killer metal platter from Germany's favorite export in the future.
Scorpions - Pure Instinct (East West) 1996
1. "Wild Child"
"Pure Instinct" is a faceless Scorpions release. This album sounds like any number of American melodic metal bands, with the exception of Klause Meine's unique vocals. This CD is chock full of ballads and attempts at radio rock, 5 out of 11 songs here are ballads. "Pure Instinct" seems to be the Scorpions on autopilot. In a word, this CD just seems uninspired. That's not to say that it's a totally bad album. "Wild Child" and "Stone In My Shoe" are decent enough rockers. "Wild Child" could easily have fit on just about any of the past few Scorpions albums and probably would have been a hit. Still, in comparison to this band's classic catalog, "Pure Instinct" ranks close to the bottom. Another controversial album cover for the Scorpions with a naked family behind a cage.
Scorpions - Deadly Sting: The Mercury Years (Mercury) 1997
"Deadly Sting" is a well thought out compilation that has the songs laid out chronologically from 1979 to 1995, thus covering the years in which the band enjoyed their most commercial success. The two disc collection features two unreleased tracks and a cover of the Who's "I Can't Explain." Of course all the favorites are here as well: "Loving You Sunday Morning," "The Zoo," "Blackout," "No One Like You," "Big City Nights," "Still Loving You," "Rock You Like a Hurricane," "Rhythm of Love," "Wind of Change," and "Don't Believe Her." I found this disc for $5.99 and it was well worth it since I obviously have huge holes in my Scorpions collection after "Blackout."
Scorpions - Eye II Eye (Koch Records) 1999
1. The Zoo (5:48)
How the unplugged thing ever became a trend I do not know. I think it was Nirvana that started the trend, but regardless, unplugged rock and roll should be a crime. However having said that there are a few acoustic releases that I do enjoy. Kiss MTV Unplugged comes to mind and was very enjoyable. They really did something special with those tracks. Sevendust also released a great collection of acoustic songs. However, for the most part I find acoustic albums to be mostly worthless. I would not say that "Acoustica" is completely worthless, but it's definitely not necessary listening. The most interesting songs are the heavier numbers that took some interpretation to make them work. Opening track "The Zoo" is one such track. The track is given an almost bluesy feel. I also found "Catch Your Train" to be an interesting take on a classic Uli Roth-era song. They give the songs a folksy/country feel which is quite odd but also works well. The addition of some female backing vocals really adds to the appeal. A cover of Queen's "Love of My Life" was an interesting and fun inclusion and one where you can actually hear some crowd interaction. It's also worth mentioning that Klaus Meine sounds great on all these songs.
Unfortunately the majority of the album is just bland, acoustic takes on ballads. Now I like some Scorpions ballads. "Holiday" is a bona fide classic, but here it just sounds life-less. Really acoustic versions of "Winds of Change", "Always Somewhere" and "Send Me an Angel" are not all that different from the originals which were also at least partially acoustic. The album ends with an atrocious reworking of "Rock You Like A Hurricane" that has been renamed to "Hurricane 2001", probably because this version does not rock in the slightest. This is a song that definitely needs distortion and thumping bass. So, while there are some real gems on this album, it's more or less just a collection of acoustic ballads.
Scorpions - Box Of Scorpions (Hip-O/Universal) 2004
Box sets are all the rage in the last few years. I personally think they are cool for the die-hard fans as they usually included nice books, unreleased materail, and a nice overview of the band's career. The Box of Scorpions, while being a decent overview of the band's career, has nothing much for the die-hard who already owns 99% of the band's releases. This box set is nothing more than a glorified 'best of' collection. Of course, that is quite a testimony to the band that they had to have a three disc collection 'best of' when many band's couldn't fill up a single CD with hits. This box is also shy on packaging. While there is a decent size booklet, that includes a biography, as well as a discography, but there isn't much in the way of photos. The photos that are included focus mostly on the Matthias Jabs-era of the band, completely ignoring the Uli Roth years. At least they included a good amount of material from those years. Disc 1 is made up almost exclusively of the awesome Ulrich Roth years, save for the first song off "Lonesome Crow" and the last two songs, which began the new era of Scorpions. I must say that whoever chose the tracks did a good job of picking some of the band's finest material. Of course having been a die-hard fan since I was in high school in the early 80's, there are a few songs I would have included that are not included, but you can't included every song. Shoot, I might have included the entire Taken By Force and Blackout albums. As it stands, this is a decent overview of the Scorps, more than enough material for a casual fan and an excellent listen for the die-hard. (Thanks Jeff! You rule!)
Scorpions - Unbreakable (BMG) 2004
1. "New Generation"
I must confess that I have not really been thrilled with a new Scorpions disc in many, many years. I honestly thought they lost their edge long ago when their quest to become the number one radio rock band started around 1986 or so. They did have some decent material during that time up through Crazy World. After that it was sort of a downward spiral of compilations, live albums, live compilations, etc. Then in 1999 the band delivered the experimental Eye II Eye which totally failed. However, a ray of hope filled this longtime fan when in '02 the band toured with Dokken and Whitesnake and only played songs from their classic metal days and even through in a few Uli Roth-era songs for good measure. I thought to myself, perhaps the band is finally going to give the fans what they want. Did they redeem themselves? Yes & no. While they have returned with a very good record, it doesn¹t in anyway measure up to their classic material. However, that is not to say I don't like this and am not giving it plenty of spin time. After all, it¹s not Eye II Eye. They have experimented with some new sounds & updated themselves here, however they haven't totally lost their identity or isolated their core audience either. Perhaps the best track is the rockin' album opener "New Generation". "Blood Too Hot" rocks hard as well and is a very memorable cut with some screaming guitar that is reminiscent of the "Blackout" days. Likewise "Deep and Dark" is a catchy song that would have fit nicely on "Savage Amusement" or "Crazy World." There are a few songs that I didn't care for. Usually the Scorps excell at writing ballads but "Maybe I Maybe You" didn't really hold my attention. However, overall, this is the most enjoyable album the Scorpions have released in almost a decade. Here's hoping that this is just the beginning of a trend of good releases to come for them.
Scorpions - Humanity - Hour 1 (BMG) 2007
1. "Hour 1" (3:26)
The Scorpions have managed to stay afloat all these decades despite changing tides and musical trends. With each decade they have managed to reinvent themselves without totally abandoning their heavy metal and hard rock roots. "Eye II Eye" was a bit of a let down in their catalog as it seemed that the Scorps were taking a stab at the alternative rock cat. It failed. 2004 saw the Scorpions climb back up with the excellent "Unbreakable". Three years have passed since that album was released. 2007 brings us "Humanity - Hour 1". My initial thoughts upon first hearing "Humanity" is that it doesn't really sound like The Scorpions. The band, or their label, or whoever, have drafted in pop producer and songwriter Desmond Child and producer James Michael. Every song is co-written by at least one or more mainstream songwriters and no song has more than one band member on the writing credits. As such, The Scorpions have ended up sounding like a polished, modern, pop rock band, far from the shrieking metal of "Blackout" and "Virgin Killer." There are lots of melodic, mellow, rock and pop moments here and some definite attempts at radio hits. "The Future Never Dies" is a radio ballad if I ever heard one. The album is heavy on ballads. However, ballads are not all that uncommon for the Scorpions. They have had their share of ballad hits such as the incredible "Holiday", "Winds of Change" and "Still Loving You". It's just that those songs had Scorpions personality, while these songs sound a bit more generic to me. All this doesn't mean that "Humanity" is a bad album. In fact, with repeated listens it's quite enjoyable. The performances on this album are very strong, with Rudolf Schenker and Matthias Jabs providing some very good rhythm and lead work and Klaus sounding as forceful as ever behind the mic. The new rhythm section of Pawel Maciwoda (bass) and James Kottak (drums) sound solid enough. The opening track "Hour 1", "You're Loving Me to Death" and "The Cross" and "Humanity" are all standout tracks. "The Cross" features some guest vocals by Billy Corgan. While "Humanity - Hour 1" is a good CD it is nonetheless a Scorpions album by name only. By itself it is an enjoyable disc, but compared to albums like "Lovedrive", "Blackout", and "Virgin Killer", this CD isn't a standout moment. I picked up my copy of "Humanity" the week it was released in the U.S. at Best Buy for $7.99, which is a good deal for a new release. I believe Amazon.com also had the CD listed for this price the week of it's release. However, the Best Buy version featured the bonus track "Cold" which apparently isn't available on most other domestic versions of the CD.
1. Raised on Rock (3:57)
2. Sting in the Tail (3:12)
3. Slave Me (2:44)
4. The Good Die Young (5:14)
5. No Limit (3:24)
6. Rock Zone (3:17)
7. Lorelei (4:31)
8. Turn You On (4:25)
9. Let's Rockv 3:22)
10. SLY (5:15)
11. Spirit of Rock (3:43)
12. The Best Is Yet to Come ( 4:34)
With the release of the Scorpions seventeenth studio album, "Sting in the Tail", The Scorpions have announced that they will call it a day. As such, "Sting in the Tail" is set to be their swan song. I suppose if you are going to go out, do so on a high note. "Sting in the Tail" sounds like the lost album between "Love At First Sting" and "Savage Amusment". Whereas "Humanity Hour" was a Scorps album in name only and "Eye II Eye" was just weird, "Sting in the Tail" is the album fans have waited for. There are ass kickers such as "Raised on Rock", "Sting in the Tail", "Turn You On" and "Rock Zone". Guitarists Rudolf Schenker and Mathias Jabs tear it up and Klaus Meine has never sounded better than on this effort. There are also the ballads that the Scorpions are known for. On this album there are three, which is a bit too many for my liking, though some of these are quite good, especially album closer "The Best Is Yet To Come". The song features an ironic title, considering this is set to be the Scorpions final studio album. The song is easily as good as classic songs like "Holiday" and "Winds of Change". "The Good Die Young" features former Nightwish singer Tarja Turunen. Tarja is mostly used for background vocals and doesn't really distract from the song at all. Here inclusion is mostly for marketing purposes, though I don't really think that this album needs the marketing gimmicks.
"Sting of the Tail" sounds like a Scorpions record. Jabs and Schenker's twin guitar assault, Klaus Meine's instantly recognizable vocals and some solid songwriting complete the album. The album is new, yet sounds warm and familiar. Even the production, while being modern, isn't so modern as to distract from the warm feel of the album. Frankly, "Sting in the Tail" comes off sounding like classic Scorpions but with a renewed vision. As a farewell album, this is a good way to go out. If the album does well, perhaps the band will take a cue from Kiss or Ozzy and change their mind about retirement.