Rudolf Schenker actually started the Scorpions in Hannover in 1965 when their sound was British beat influenced. Michael and Klaus changed the focus in 1970 and the debut album Lonesome Crow was recorded with Conny Plank (Can, Cluster, Kraftwerk, Brian Eno, Killing Joke, Moebius, DAF, Eurythmics etc.) at Star Studios, Hamburg for the famed Brain label. Michael left to join UFO shortly afterwards but left the team with a fine disc, full of pulsating rock riffs and psychedelic spin.
Fly to the Rainbow emerges after a hiatus when Rudolf and Klaus perform as Dawn Road but then resume the brand with new guitarist Ulrich Jon Roth. Adding mellotrons and synths to the mix they moved into progressive territory but In Trance (1975) announced their arrival as a fully-fledged hard rock act with classy musicianship, subtle vocals and a crisp sonic atmosphere.
The highly controversial Virgin Killer would become one of their best-loved releases and define their sound, an abrasive metal that will prove influential. The title track and “Pictured Life” are classic Scorpions and surely inspired the next generation of New Wave British Heavy Metal.
Roth left after Taken by Force but again this is a stellar disc whose songs have been covered by Syu, Testament, Yngwie Malmsteen and Helstar. Dieter Dierks production shines here and this disc came to the attention of American management team Leber Krebs, thus opening the door for an assault on the US rock market who would soon surrender to the delights of “Steamrock Fever” and “Born to Touch Your Feelings.” The double live Tokyo Tapes sees Roth and his Hendrix influenced guitar work take their leave but not without contributing those immense talents to one of the great on-stage Scorpions testaments from Nakano Sun Plaza.
As word spread Lovedrive provided the impetus for much bigger sales. Michael Schenker returns to add guitars to three cuts and Matthias Jabs handles the Fender like a champ elsewhere, bringing a whiff of Van Halen to the new big sound.
Ensuring they moved the formula forward the splendid Animal Magnetism contains the brooding metal burlesque cut “The Zoo”; this will become a lynchpin number of their live act and is especially popular in the UK. Suitably energised by international acclaim Scorpions eighth studio album, Blackout receives stunning reviews and wins plaudits for the brilliant “No One Like You”.
Love at First Sting (1984) took a while to appear but utilises the emerging digital recording technology to full effect. Standout cuts here are “Rock You Like a Hurricane” and “Still Loving You”; the combination of power balladry and memorable riffs shine brightly.
Dierks final disc with his friends is Savage Amusement where they tinker with a more synthesized sound and even move into the dance territory that was becoming so hip in Cologne.
The huge seller Crazy World is co-produced with Keith Olsen who provides a very radio-friendly sheen to the hard rock grooves. Francis Bucholz makes his bass-playing bow here but leaves Scorpions in good shape with the political track “Wind of Change” becoming a slow burning worldwide hit just in time for the collapse of the Soviet Communist regime.
That move towards social issues and more pointed lyrics continues on Face the Heat, produced by the late Canadian board master Bruce Fairbairn (Bon Jovi, Aerosmith, AC/DC) although the more contemporary sound he gave them was soon swapped for the in-house Scorpions thrust of Pure Instinct.
They return to us for 1999’s Eye 11 Eye, an album that slipped off the radar somewhat but is well worth rediscovery now. Guests here include Mick Jones (Foreigner) and James Ingram. The noted producer Peter Wolf adds piano and keyboards to a lush and soulful disc.
The new millennium finds Scorpions in carefree mood on Moment of Glory as they team up with the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra to cover some of their best-loved tracks, also a version of Diane Warren’s “Here in My Heart”. Ray Wilson (Genesis) and Zucchero add vocal polish to this EXPO 2000 extravaganza and emotional Hannover homecoming.
After political constructs, the occasional concept and strings it’s back to hard rocking business as usual on Unbreakable but experimentalism is always in their arsenal and so the collaboration with Desmond Child on Humanity: Hour 1 envisages a Science Fiction future where man and robots are in conflict.
That audacious disc is chased down by the acclaimed Sting in the Tail (2010). “The Good Die Young” recorded with Finnish metal opera star Tarja Turunen and the epic “Raised on Rock” delighted fans who appreciated Scorpions ability to maintain an incredibly high standard of writing and performance.
For something completely different try Comeblack as the band re-record some older classics and revisit their beat origins with covers of Beatles, T. Rex, Small Faces, Kinks and Rolling Stones oldies but goldies. It’s an esoteric mix but it works very well. Discovery of this 2011 disc is highly recommended.
We also have Return to Forever, the aptly named new disc. Schenker, Meine and company celebrate both their 50th anniversary and their partnership as a long-lasting institution. As Rudolf explains: "We're living a Gypsy Life, all our life, fifty years and longer". This is available in standard format and Limited Deluxe and iTunes Editions as well as a heavyweight double vinyl pressing and a collector’s box set with extra goodies and memorabilia. A fine thing.
For extra listening seek out the World Wide Live or Live Bites and bolster your interest with any of the compilations, such as Best of Rockers n' Ballads, Still Loving You or the handy Big City Nights. Bad for Good: The Very Best of Scorpions contains two unreleased cuts from 2002. The Platinum Collection spans their career with well-chosen items on 3-CDs, as do Box of Scorpions and Gold.
There is much to discover and admire and with these veteran rockers in such fine fettle today it seems likely there is more on the way.
Words: Max Bell
After the release of Savage Amusement in 1988, the Scorpions expressed disdain toward the album, feeling that it was too polished when compared to their other work. Their longtime producer, Dieter Dierks, was replaced with well-known rock producer Keith Olsen, who would produce Crazy World and assist in making it one of the Scorpions' greatest recordings. Their music had certainly changed since Savage Amusement, sounding a little bit heavier and less glamorous. But even with the metal sound, the songs remain melodic and catchy. The power ballads on the album, "Wind of Change" and "Send Me an Angel," are arguably two of the band's greatest slow numbers, boasting soothing harmony and lyrics. Crazy World remains the Scorpions' finest '90s album and is sure to please its listeners.
Words: Barry Weber
Not even renowned metal producer Bruce Fairbairn could save this disappointing follow-up to the outstanding release Crazy World. Instead of concentrating on melodic tunes, Face The Heat seems to focus on noisy metal and glass-shattering screaming rather than the usual classic and emotional sounds that the Scorpions have put on their previous albums. Especially when compared to their previous recordings, Face The Heat is quite unsatisfactory.
Words: Barry Weber
My brother and I have a disagreement over which Scorpions live album is better; this or World Wide Live. I am partial towards World Wide Live. It perfectly captures Scorpions at the pinnacle of their success right after the release of Love at First Sting during their 84-85 world mega tour. In World Wide Live, the sound is rawer and you hear the echoes from the huge stadiums the Scorps were playing in at the time. Live Bites is a very good album in its own right, but it feels "less live" and more "perfect" than World Wide Live for me. The album is more polished and you can hear each one of the musicians perfectly. That is what my brother really likes about the album, the amazing quality and clarity of scorpions on this album which is in stark contrast to World Wide Live, where the sound was much rawer but the clarity is not there. It is just a difference in preference of styles. My brother has his own band and is really into high quality sound which is why he likes Live Bites more. Me, I'm more impressed by the feelings that huge crowds and stadiums in World Wide Live inspire; they make you feel like you are at a mega show. Some people would say that after the release of Love at First Sting Scorpions went down hill. I would challenge them to listen to this live album. While other than Wind of Change, the songs on this album are not as well known, that does not mean they are not good. The material on this live album is great! You also get a feel for the world audience that scorpions have played live to with songs recorded in Berlin, Munich, San Francisco, Mexico City and Leningrad. The guitar riffs on Tease Me, Please Me are good. Is There Anybody There sounds great. Scorps slowed down the song and heavily accented the beat giving the song a great feel. I also really like the inclusion of In Trance in this cd. The version is great. Another highlight of the cd is Wind of Change played live in Russia I think (Living for Tomorrow is played for sure in Leningrad). My favorite song on this cd has to be When the Smoke is Going down. I know that is a weird choice, but something about this version just makes it magnificent. I can never get enough of it. Klaus Meine's voice is fantastic, the crowd cheering gives it a great feel and even though the acoustic guitar chords are very simple, they are also quite powerful (reminds me of Acoustica). You expect the song to errupt into a hard heavy metal song any minute (like Coming Home) but that is where its greatness lies in. It never does, but it keeps you thinking it will. Overall, if you like Scorpions and/or Metal you should buy this. It is well worth your money. One final word, there are two versions of the CD, Live Bites 1988-1995 [LIVE] and Live Bites [IMPORT]. I would purchase Live Bites [IMPORT] as it is a dollar cheaper and you get one more track. More importantly the difference between the two cds is Live Bites [IMPORT] has two more live tracks while Live Bites 1988-1995 [LIVE] has an extra studio track. I haven't heard the extra studio track, Edge of Time but it can't be that good because it wasn't included in any of their best of compilations, boxed sets ect, so it probably isn't worth it. Go for the Import version where you get the two extra live songs: Ave Maria no Morro (played live in Mexico city, Klaus Meine's Spanish is not his forte, but if you know Spanish well you can understand what he is saying, meaning I don't agree with the reviewer who says he can't understand him, that reviewer just isn't a good Spanish speaker, but then I am a native Spanish speaker [born in Colombia]) and Hit Between the Eyes (played very heavy here!)
Most of the comments the Scorpions' first effort, 'Lonesome Crow', are right on here. At first I fully expected a raw, primitive sound similar to that of 'Fly to the Rainbow' and 'In Trance'. Instead, I got an earful first listening to this somewhat experimental work, which is far, far more sophisticated than anything that they have done since. I find myself listening to 'Lonesome Crow' over and over again, trying to figure it out. This one certainly bears repeated listenings, as there is a lot going on here. Everyone who knows and loves the Scorpions from their 80's heyday knows how polished their special brand of driving hard rock 'n' roll became after Tokyo Tapes in '78. Starting with 'Lovedrive' in '79 (my favorite of their newer material), 'Animal Magnetism', 'Blackout', etc., It is pretty clear looking back how the Scorpions continued to refine their sound with glossier production coupled with simpler, shorter song arrangements and a more focused, driving hard-edge to their sound. It's almost like they backed-up after making Lonesome Crow, only to focus and refine a decidely more loud and straightforward sound. If 'Lovedrive' is classic 80's heavy metal, then 'Lonesome Crow' must be seen as the peak of their creative ability. Indeed, it is like nothing that I have ever heard before. The Sabbath influence is there (just listen to the excellent bassist wax Geezer Butler-esque), and the drums are equally solid. This record is like a black orchid on a dark purple background, and the atmosphere it generates is tremendous. It is also a showcase of musicianship. No offense to Rarebell, etc., but the Scorpions should never have gotten rid of their bass/drums section, who really shine on this, the only Scorps album on which they performed. The variety of rhythms and layering of sounds is something to note on repeated listenings. Klaus Meine (then Meiner) is in top form here, and his haunting vocals really help set the dark mood. Certainly one of the top voices in 80's Rock, he is given more range on 'Lonesome Crow', and really shows off his expression and range. Perhaps his english wasn't that strong at the time, but even though many of the vocals are unintelligable (especially on the title track)he uses his voice like an instrument, which is fine considering the fact that actual lyrics are pretty sparse in this 70% instrumental experiment in sound. The guitar work just confirms that Michael Schenker at age 16 was clearly a musical prodigy and extraordinary talent. My favorite tracks are 'Inheritance', 'Leave Me', and the title track, 'Lonesome Crow'. Surely the latter I would consider possibly the Scorps' Magnum Opus. Consisting of over 13 minutes of varied movements, extended Michael Schenker soloing and Meiner's even-then vocal brilliance (did he have classical training pre-Scorps? ), it brilliantly concludes the whole CD as a single, almost seamless body of work.
Words: Chef Bum
This is an excellent compilation album. If you have never heard The Scorpions music then this is an ideal taster for you and you will enjoy every track, INCLUDING their Classic 'Wind Of Change' which, it seems, has been missed off as track 18 (above) by the guy / gal who updates Amazon's listings. Yes, it's on here and how could it NOT be, but thankfully the compiler had the good sense to include it as the final track in the hope you'll listen to the other 17 Classics to get there! Tremendous music from Germany's finest! It's only 99pence New and Used so you've no excuse but to click!
Words: Alan Burridgeon