Ten months after the release of 1974’s ‘Fly to the Rainbow’, Scorpions recorded then released their third studio album on September 17, 1975 in Europe, but wouldn’t see a U.S. release until March 1976. This time around they had a new drummer as Jurgen Rosenthal left the band because he was drafted in to the Army. He was replaced by Rudy Lenners. The rest of the band was the same with Klaus Meine on lead vocals, Rudolf Schenker on rhythm guitar, Uli Jon Roth on lead guitar (& vocals) and Francis Buchholz on bass.
As far as a sound for the record, Scorpions continued on their hard rock road and left behind those epic 10 minutes songs for an album of 10 tracks within the standard 3 to 5 minute range. They were tighter, more melodic and we even get more Uli Jon Roth on vocals as he gets two songs this go round. This was also the first album that featured producer Dieter Dierks who would go on to produce all their album up to 1988’s Savage Amusement. I guess you could say he was the 6th member of the Scorpions.
This album was also the first album to include the now famous Scorpion log. If that wasn’t enough, it was the start of a set of album covers that would become rather controversial. This one, and the copy I happen to have, shows a beautiful lady standing over Uli’s guitar and one of her breasts is exposed. They would later change the cover to blackout that part hiding her breast. Honestly, this one is really hard to see and you have to be really looking for it to see it, but it is there. This wouldn’t be the last cover of the band to get censored. Censored cover or not, the album helped propel their sound and their popularity, but they were still not near their highest of highs yet. That wouldn’t come for several years.
The album kicks off with one of the band’s coolest songs ever, “Dark Lady”. It is a first for the band with both Uli and Klaus sharing lead vocals. You have Uli on the verses and Klaus screaming on the chorus and those screams are hairs standing on the back your neck type screams. The guitar sounds on this one are eerie, gritty and totally brutal. One hell of an opening track.
Immediately they go in to a ballad with “In Trance”. It is a song like none other for the band, so far. It is dark, the guitars sound a little distorted and there is a somberness to it yet Klaus’ vocals are crisp and clean as they are so powerful here and resonate so much emotion. We would grow to expect ballads in the future but this was so unexpected at this time.
“Life’s Like a River” isn’t a ballad, but it isn’t a rocker either…somewhere in between. It is drenched in sadness as it talks about aging and Klaus makes you feel every note. One of the highlights is the rhythm section of Rudy’s drums and Francis’ bass as they are the driving force behind it. That doesn’t mean the guitars aren’t wailing as they are certainly slicing through with some killer riffs. Another great track.
“Top of the Bill” is basically same as a song on their latest album “Gas in the Tank”. Okay, not really, but not far off. Klaus’ vocals are ear splitting high at times as his shrieks rip through your head. It is a solid rocker that is both explosive and melodic. It is balls-to-the wall energy and I love the vocal harmonies as they add even more to the dynamic track.
After such a high, we get a little downer with “Living and Dying”. Its brooding, heavy Sabbathy sound takes us in a totally different direction. It wallows in its darkness, but that is what makes it so interesting. Francis’ bass work is again top notch as he is key here. Those crunchy guitars also make things seem so bleak that there is no getting out of it, but it is a fairly short song so you will come out of it and come out loving it.
Side 2 opens with another killer track, “Robot Man”. The quick barrage of the drums and Rudolf’s guitar shuffle suck you in to this cool, fast-paced blistering track. It doesn’t sound like anything else on the album and that is a good thing. The vocal effect on Klaus’ vocals keep it interesting and varied. A quick solo and more Klaus and before you know it, it is over and you are wanting more.
“Evening Wind’s” atmospheric opening is heavy on the bass and sees Klaus tip-toe through the verses backdropped against some bluesy guitar moments. It is another ballad, but totally different than the title track which is a good thing. The solo is timid and not a speedfest which adds to the emotion of the song. It builds and builds to the end adding to the drama yet no climactic end as it only fades out.
Next up is “Sun in My Hand” which is an Uli sung song. It opens with some killer riffing and then chugs along in a Cream-like fashion. Uli’s vocals on this one aren’t as superior as his playing nor as good as the opening track. I’ll be honest, I prefer Klaus, but Uli at least adds variety even if it doesn’t work every time.
“Longing for Fire” open and for a second I thought it was Kiss, but that didn’t last long. There is some fantastic guitar playing by Uli with some great riffing by Rudolf to accompany him. The bass line is repeated throughout and pretty high in the mix. Klaus goes through the motions with vocals. is my only complaint, but the solo work is most impressive while the song itself is not so much.
The album ends with a very subdued instrumental that brings the sadness back that has been so prevalent in the album. “Night Lights” picks up the tempo and becomes a rather experimental track, however, is too somber and dark with not enough interesting elements or solos to grab your attention and then it just fades away in to oblivion to be forgotten.
- Dark Lady – Keeper
- In Trance – Keeper
- Life’s Like a River – Keeper
- Top of the Bill – Keeper
- Living And Dying – Keeper
- Robot Man – Keeper
- Evening Wind – Keeper (1/2 Point)
- Sun In My Hand – Delete
- Longing for Fire – Keeper (1/2 Point)
- Night Lights (Instrumental) – Delete
The Track Score is 7 out of 10 Tracks or 70%. I have seen the album listed as the band’s first “real” album and that would because it is the start of the classic Scorpions sound that made them famous. Tighter songs and straight up hard rock. The progressive sounds of the earlier albums are gone and replaced with a more in your face, wham bam thank you ‘mam attitude. What is also really cool about this album is that there is an overall sadness to it which I think adds a lot of magic to the sound. The front half of this album is pure brilliance and the back half has a few misses, but in a total overall picture, it is a fantastic record. My Overall Score is a 4.0 out of 5.0 Stars as you can hear the Scorpions honing in on their sound and starting to hit on all cylinders.
NEXT UP: VIRGIN KILLER (1976)
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