After the debut album, ‘Lonesome Crow’, Michael Schenker was given an offer he couldn’t refuse. A chance to play guitar with the amazing band UFO. He was only kid so why not jump at the chance. They had asked Uli Jon Roth to join Scorpions after helping them finish out the tour, but Uli chose not to do it and instead stayed with the band he was also in called Dawn Road. Rudolf Schenker really wanted to work with Uli so he decided to break up the band and go join Dawn Road. Dawn Road already had Francis Buchholz (bass), Achim Kirschning (keyboards) and Jürgen Rosenthal (drums), but they amazingly found themselves needing a singer. Uli convinced Rudolf to invite Klaus Meine to come sing in the band…and he agreed.
Dawn Road had four members plus two old Scorpions members. Dawn Road basically outnumbered the Scorps. However, they decided to change the band name to Scorpions mainly because that name was more well known than Dawn Road and the Scorpions were back in business. They recorded the follow-up album ‘Fly to the Rainbow’ in April 1974 and on November 1, 1974, the album was released. The album ended up selling better than ‘Lonesome Crow’ and saw the band’s sound go from psychedelic rock to a more straight-forward hard rock sound…but not the 80’s rock sound yet…still some years off. One interesting thing to note is that 3 of the songs on the album were co-written by Michael Schenker which some how was part of the deal for him leaving the band.
The album cover is not quite what you’d expect from the Scorpions. The color scheme is not very metal and Uli Jon Roth has no idea what it means and I am guessing the band had no say in what it would be. The same design firm that did the debut album, which was great, did this one as well and I am not sure what drugs they were taking, but they had to be high as a freaking kite to come up with this nonsense. I do like the back cover with the band’s name on the guys ass..that’s kinda funny. My copy of the album is a standard U.S. release and nothing special so enough about that. Let’s get to the music.
Right out of the gate, Scorpions show that they are putting their past behind. The sound is night and day different from ‘Lonesome Crow’ and heck, even Klaus sings more on this one song then he did the entire last album. With “Speedy’s Coming”, Uli Jon Roth makes it known that he is the force behind their sound as his playing is exceptional. Klaus wails the vocals and makes me feel right at home as it his voice that for me screams Scorpions. The drumming by Jurgen and Francis’ bass are a lethal combo and throw in Rudolf’s rhythm guitar and you have a hell of a package.
“They Need a Million” opens with some brilliant acoustic guitar work which makes you think a ballad, but a minute or so in the electric guitar comes in soaring and ripping a cool riff accompanied by more great drumming from Jurgen. The overall sound has a very Spanish feel and is totally unexpected and in a good way.
Uli takes total control of the next song “Drifting Sun” which he wrote and he sings. He isn’t Klaus Meine strong, but has a cool voice nonetheless. It is nice to see Scorpions here as a true band as I like bands with multiple lead singers as it keeps things interesting. The opening guitar riffs are so Hendrix and “Spanish Castle Magic” and not a bad person to copy. Also in the mix is some keyboards to add layer and texture. Heck, even Roth’s vocals are a hint a Hendrix’s approach with Meine helping on the backing vocals. At over 7 minutes, it is a total Roth showcase and you know, that is fine with me as who doesn’t love his soloing and overall riffing. Not me!!
The final track on Side A is Michael Schenker’s first contribution in the co-write department. “Fly People Fly” isn’t the title track, but it could be as the title of the album is in the chorus. The song still has a hint of the bluesy, psychedelic vibe of the first album, but Roth brings a new flair to it. Klaus’ vocals really standout on this one as they soar. The song isn’t a standout as it does a drag a little as it isn’t a rocker and not quite a ballad, but pretty close.
Side B kicks off with “This is My Song” which isn’t really much of a rock song. It leans more pop, but still has some cool moments with some dual guitar work with Uli and Rudolf as well as wailing solo. And if that isn’t enough, listen to Francis on bass…what a cool groove he is laying down. Lyrically, not the most stellar track, but musically, it does kick some ass.
“Far Away” is another Michael Schenker co-write and this one opens with an airy, floating vibe with Klaus softly singing a few words here and there. The song picks up tempo, however, it is lackluster at best. It screams filler for me.
And the last song is a co-write between the two guitar gods, Michael and Uli which probably explains a song that stretches over 9 minutes in length. The title track, “Fly to the Rainbow”, opens with more acoustic guitars and has Klaus gently laying down the vocals to match the guitar. The song borders on prog rock with its changes (and length) yet still a step in the right direction. The song feels like a journey and in the end you are glad you are along for the ride.
- Speedy’s Coming – Keeper
- They Need A Million – Keeper
- Drifting Sun – Keeper
- Fly People Fly – Keeper (1/2 Point)
- This is My Song – Keeper (1/2 Point)
- Far Away – Delete
- Fly to the Rainbow – Keeper
The Track Score is 5 of 7 Tracks or 71%. The first half of the album is pretty stellar as the band has started to find their groove with this more hard rock sound. The back half was a weaker but didn’t bring you down too much. Uli’s guitar playing is a shot in the arm for the band and Klaus finally gets to show what he can do and that is sing the shit out of the songs. With a rhythm section that consists of Rudolf and Francis, you are in for a treat. This is the only album with Jurgen on drums and he leaves his mark as he has some great fills and moments throughout. A step up from the debut, but still not quite classic status although did really enjoy this one. My Overall Score is a 3.5 out of 5.0 Stars as the band takes their turn towards hard rock and make a giant leap forward, but still aren’t there yet.
NEXT UP: IN TRANCE (1975)
THE SCORPIONS COLLECTION SERIES:
- Lonesome Crow (1972)
- Fly to the Rainbow (1974)
- In Trance (1975)
- Virgin Killer (1976)
- Taken by Force (1977)
- Tokyo Tapes (1978)
- Lovedrive (1979)
- Best of Scorpions (1979)
- Animal Magnetism (1980)
- Rock Galaxy (1980)
- Blackout (1982)
- Hot & Heavy (1982)
- Love at First Sting (1984)
- Still Loving You Maxi Single (1984)
- Best of Scorpions Vol. 2 (1984)
- Gold Ballads (1984)
- World Wide Live (1985)
- Savage Amusement (1988)
- Rhythm of Love – Single (Box Set) (1988)
- Best of Rockers ‘n’ Ballads (1989)
- Crazy World (1990)
- Crazy World – 4 Track From Crazy World Promo Vinyl (1990)
- Tease Me Please Me Promo CD (1990)
- Don’t Believe Her Promo CD (1990)
- Send Me An Angle Promo CD (1991)
- Face the Heat (1993)
- Live Bites (1995)
- Pure Instinct (1996)
- Big City Nights (Compilation) (1998)
- Eye II Eye (1999)
- Moment of Glory (with Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra) (2000)
- Acoustica (2001)
- Unbreakable (2004)
- Humanity: Hour 1 (2007)
- Sting in the Tail (2010)
- Comeblack (2011)
- MTV Unplugged – Live in Athens (2013)
- Return to Forever (2015)
- Rock Believer (2022)
- The Albums Ranked Worst to First