Scorpions – ‘Taken By Force’ (1977) – Album Review (The Scorpions Collection Series)

The band’s fifth album has both a first and a last point of interest. It was the band’s first album with new drummer, Herman Rarebell, and the band’s last with guitarist Uli Jon Roth. A little good and bad news rolled in to one. Herman replaced prior drummer Rudy Lenners and is the drummer that is most known with the band as he was there through their most successful years. Uli left the band because he didn’t like the direction the band was going in which was a more commercial rock sound plus he didn’t even sing a song on this album where he had at least 2 vocals on previous ones. Uli held on until the end of the tour for the album and then left to start his own band Electric Sun. That more commercial rock sound has proven to be quite successful for the band. The full band line-up was Klaus Meine, Uli Jon Roth, Rudolf Schenker, Francis Buchholz and Herman Rarebell. A very lethal combination.

The album was recorded from June to October of 1977 and was released on December 4, 1977 just in time for Christmas. I am not sure how successful this particular album was or what chart positions it hit (if any), but I do know that Apple Music considers this to be one of their most essential albums to have in your collection.

Like the last three albums, the album cover caused a bit of controversy. The original cover had a bunch of children playing with guns at military grave site in France. People felt this was a bit tasteless and were quite offended. As a result, a second cover was issued with the band pictures at the top and then all black underneath. This is the version I currently have, but I am on the lookout for the original because it is really a better cover all around. Look how awful the replacement was. Could those pictures of the band BE any worse? Enough, let’s talk about the tunes.

SIDE 1:

The album kicks off with the anthem like “Steamrock Fever” with its chugging guitar riffs and might be one of the most metal songs on the album but not the most. Don’t know if I understand what it is about, but really who cares when they sound this good. The chanting children thrown in the verses, the Klaus scream and the overly catchy chorus make it a fun, cool-sounding opener.

“We’ll Burn the Sky” is next and was written by Schenker and a German female figure skater named Monika Dannemann who happened to be Jimi Hendrix’s last girlfriend and was soon to be Uli’s wife. This starts off really slow, more like a ballad with just Klaus and a simple guitar. Then it jumps into gritty guitar riff and the full band comes in. The tempo picks up and Klaus is louder on the vocals then back to the softer side. The song goes back and forth like this for awhile and at time a little too long, but the ending minute or so is all guitar solo and worth the wait.

The first Uli penned song is “I’ve Got to Be Free” and I wonder if this was foreshadowing to his leaving the band as the song is about the desire to run your own life. The style of this song is classic Scorpions. Klaus is really into this one on vocals as he is giving it his all almost screaming. The song has another catchy chorus and a great riff. A straight-forward rocker.

The final song on the first side is one of my favorites. “The Riot of Your Times” starts off with an almost Who like guitar intro and then Klaus’ vocals just soar. They are predicting the future with this one that by ’94 or ’95 the world will be in full riot mode. The verses are crisp and clean and the chorus is full on power and there is another killer solo by Roth as the man can play.

SIDE 2:

“The Sails of Charon” kick off side two. The song is over 5 minutes, however, most versions of this song are edited down to 4:24 with the wind-like sound effects at the beginning and end edited out. As you can see above, my version is the edited version. This song was penned by Roth and is a major showcase of his talent. The opening guitar solo is stupendous and has a great driving rhythm by Schenker. The Sabbathy type lyrics and Klaus’ eerie vocal approach is also fantastic. A totally kick-ass song.

The band gets a little funky with “Your Light” another Roth penned track. Francis lays down a slick, funked up bass line. A totally different vibe on this song then the rest of the album which keeps things interesting. Klaus changes up his delivery as well on the vocals. The song is very melodic as well and a solid rocker. You get more Roth brilliance on the solo and you get more Klaus screaming which I always love to hear.

The band goes straight-up beast-like Metal with “He’s a Woman, She’s a Man”. A heavy riff which might the heaviest they’ve ever done or at least on this album. It is brutal. Herman really pounds away on the drums that makes the guitar riff seem even heavier and it is almost Thrash. A catchy chorus and more Klaus vocal dexterity with this broken English makes it all an utter blast. If your head ain’t banging on this one, you ain’t playing it loud enough!! This was also Herman Rarebell’s first writing credit and what an introduction to his talent.

Then we slow things down with the final song, the ballad “Born to Touch Your Feelings” and what a cheesy title. This has a whole “Winds of Change” vibe to it (and I know that song came over a decade later, just using as a frame of reference). There is an explosiveness to the chorus while the verses are slow and very airy. There are a bunch of guest women’s voices that can be heard at the end and they are performed by some friends and fans: Junko and Mutsumi from Japan, Esther from Suriname, Rosa from Rome, Susan from L.A., and Leila from Tahiti. Scorps can do a ballad and this will take you on a journey although that journey is over 7 minutes which I feel is a bit too long.

Track Listing:

  1. Steamrock Fever – Keeper
  2. We’ll Burn the Sky – Keeper (1/2 Point)
  3. I’ve Got To Be Free – Keeper
  4. The Riot of Your Time – Keeper
  5. The Sails of Charon – Keeper
  6. Your Light – Keeper
  7. He’s A Woman – She’s A Man – Keeper
  8. Born to Touch Your Feelings – Keeper (1/2 Point)

The Track Score is 7 out of 8 Tracks or 88%.  Scorpions really out-do themselves with this one. They seem to be finding their groove even if Uli Jon Roth didn’t like it.  Us music fans really started to love it.  Herman Rarebell joins the band and makes a real impact even getting his first co-write. Uli’s playing is still inspiring even if he wasn’t anymore. Klaus keeps sounding better and keeps getting more comfortable at the helm.  Rudolf is always underrated rhythm guitarist and Francis still killing it on the bass.  This to me is the first totally killer Scorpions album and won’t be the last.  If you had to start somewhere, this might be the place to start.  My Overall Score is a 4.5 out of 5.0 Stars as it just kept getting better with every listen as a great album should.

NEXT UP: TOKYO TAPES (1978)

THE SCORPIONS COLLECTION SERIES:

  1. Lonesome Crow (1972)
  2. Fly to the Rainbow (1974)
  3. In Trance (1975)
  4. Virgin Killer (1976)
  5. Taken by Force (1977)
  6. Tokyo Tapes (1978)
  7. Lovedrive (1979)
  8. Best of Scorpions (1979)
  9. Animal Magnetism (1980)
  10. Rock Galaxy (1980)
  11. Blackout (1982)
  12. Hot & Heavy (1982)
  13. Love at First Sting (1984)
  14. Still Loving You Maxi Single (1984)
  15. Best of Scorpions Vol. 2 (1984)
  16. Gold Ballads (1984)
  17. World Wide Live (1985)
  18. Savage Amusement (1988)
  19. Rhythm of Love – Single (Box Set) (1988)
  20. Best of Rockers ‘n’ Ballads (1989)
  21. Crazy World (1990)
  22. Crazy World – 4 Track From Crazy World Promo Vinyl (1990)
  23. Tease Me Please Me Promo CD (1990)
  24. Don’t Believe Her Promo CD (1990)
  25. Send Me An Angle Promo CD (1991)
  26. Face the Heat (1993)
  27. Live Bites (1995)
  28. Pure Instinct (1996)
  29. Big City Nights (Compilation) (1998)
  30. Eye II Eye (1999)
  31. Moment of Glory (with Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra) (2000)
  32. Acoustica (2001)
  33. Unbreakable (2004)
  34. Humanity: Hour 1 (2007)
  35. Sting in the Tail (2010)
  36. Comeblack (2011)
  37. MTV Unplugged – Live in Athens (2013)
  38. Return to Forever (2015)
  39. Rock Believer (2022)
  40. The Albums Ranked Worst to First

19 thoughts on “Scorpions – ‘Taken By Force’ (1977) – Album Review (The Scorpions Collection Series)

      1. I think from this point they made a conscious effort to drum up publicity via their controversial covers… or at least the label did. The next few ones are still icky, but also kinda hilarious

        Liked by 1 person

  1. As streamlined as Taken by Force sounds, it still doesn’t prepare you for the quantum leap they made from scruffy working class rockers to a sleek, polished hard rock outfit with their next studio release. It is as if Def Leppard went from On Through the Night straight to Pyromania.

    Liked by 1 person

      1. I didn’t pay much attention to the Uli Jon Roth era until now, but boy did I miss out on some good stuff! This is now easily my favorite of the bunch. Also, I wonder if Aerosmith took some (lyrical) notes from “He’s a Woman…” for “Dude”?

        Liked by 1 person

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