Shortly after the release of their previous album, ‘Animal Magnetism’, Klaus Meine started having vocal issues. It got so bad he had to have surgery on his vocal cords which left a lot of doubt if he was going to heal and be able to continue as lead singer of the band. Scorpions started working on this next album and brought in singer Don Dokken to do the guide vocals on the demos. None of Don’s demoes made the album, naturally, but one can hope they get released one day (if they’ve survived). Luckily for the band, Klaus’ vocal cords healed up nicely and he had no problem completing the album. The album would see its release on March 29, 1982 and would go all the way to #10 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart in the U.S. going platinum with over 1,000,000 records sold.
The band’s line-up ended up unchanged thanks to Klaus’ recovery. It was still Klaus Meine, Rudolf Schenker, Mathias Jabs, Francis Buchholz and Herman Rarebell. Don Dokken is credited with background vocals as they did leave some of his work in tact. Producer was still Dieter Dierks and with all the same cast of characters, the band was really starting to find their way. They were gelling and put together one of the Top 100 Greatest Metal albums of all time according to Rolling Stones Magazine in 2017. I don’t know if I agree or disagree with that, but I do know it is one hell of a great album.
The album cover is something that will catch your eye…mostly because of the bent of forks covering the eyes. The cover art is actually a self-portrait of artist Gottfried Helnwein. I always thought it was Rudolf Schenker, but that was probably because he looked like that in the video for “No One Like You”. It was nice to see the band not have a controversial cover for a change and maybe they were tired of it as well.
The album kicks off with its namesake, “Blackout”. The dual guitar riffing of Jabs and Schenker is what drives this song. An almost speed metal attack with some wild riffing which offers a wondrous backdrop for Klaus’ and his killer screams especially at the end with the shattering glass. It is the album cover come to life. The song might be the best opening track of any of their albums to date. It is sees the band hitting its stride.
“Can’t Live Without You” is another quick little number which relies on a single guitar riff throughout and seems so simplistic, but it is so memorable as the chorus is so catchy and very repetitive. Throw in a rocking solo and the band delivers another solid rocker.
Then we get one of the best songs ever by the band, “No One Like You”. The band’s first #1 in the U.S. on the Mainstream Rock Tracks. The song is legendary. A power ballad like no other. With strong guitar playing by both Jabs and Schenker again (how many times can you say that…never enough). A most impressive opening riff and a solo that plays so well for the song. Klaus’ vocals are so clean, smooth and even tender at times. The verses keep it soft and the chorus explodes with passion. What more could you want. As close to perfection as any band could get.
“You Give Me All I Need” is more of a ballad than the prior song as it incorporates some acoustic guitar work with the electric. A slow starter which picks up tempo and speed and sees Schenker get lead guitar duties on this one. And his lead isn’t flashy and showboaty, no, it is soft and tender like the song needs. The verses slow it down and Klaus’ vocals soar to new heights. They are so crisp and powerful and then go straight to heartfelt and longing. It is a little repetitive at times, but still works on every level.
The final song on the first half of the album is the heavy-ass rocker “Now!”. Tempo going 100 mph and Klaus giving us a scream fest like only he can do. Speedy guitar riffs and thunderous drumming bring this close to speed metal. You are exhausted by the end. A rip-roaring good time.
Side 2 kicks off with another rocker, “Dynamite”. Did they become a thrash band…nope…but they are liking it fast and heavy. Klaus is melodic and has some rapid-fire delivery of those lyrics and dang, he has some killer falsettos in this one as well. The guitar work is frenzied accompanied by machine gun like drumming and it is all wild and even explosive, like the name says.
“Arizona” changes things up and goes more mid-tempo and takes you back to the 70’s with an almost glam feel to it. Think early British invasion as well. It is way more laid back and yet it is so fun as well. I feel good vibe. Not what you’d expect from what has come before, but welcome nonetheless.
Then we get “China White” which is as heavy metal as it gets. The dark and gloomy, doom-filled sound that would make Maiden or Priest envious and at the same time feel right at home with Sabbath. The guitars on this are king as Mathias and Rudolf out do themselves. Rudolf takes lead and man does he ever. The guitars are crushing, brutal and oh so powerful. This 7 minute epic track shows that they aren’t a one trick pony. The band blows the roof off everything it touches with this one.
The final track is “When the Smoke is Going Down” and is a pure ballad. It is soft musically and vocally as Klaus tones it down but still sounds amazing, so crisp and clean. The solo, by Schenker, is again, not fancy, see what I can do playing. It is simple and is played for the song. The song is airy and light and simple. Not the best track on the album, but certainly not a bad one either. If there is a weakness on the album, it is ending with this song.
- Blackout – Keeper
- Can’t Live Without You – Keeper
- No One Like You – Keeper
- You Give Me All I Need – Keeper
- Now! – Keeper
- Dynamite – Keeper
- Arizona – Keeper
- China White – Keeper
- When The Smoke Is Going Down – Keeper (1/2 Point)
The Track Score is 8.5 out of 9 Tracks or 94%. This album is as close to perfection as you can get. No song is worth skipping over and it all needs to be taken in during one sitting with the volume cranked up to 10. There is enough variety on here with the 80’s rock sound, some 70’s glam and even 70’s dark and gloomy heavy metal. You get rockers and even ballads. It is all there for you to inhale and absorb, but don’t blackout from all the greatness. My Overall Score is a 5.0 out of 5.0 Stars! It don’t get much better than this. That one hiccup at the end doesn’t detract from its overall amazingness.
NEXT UP: HOT & HEAVY (1982)
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) – Bonus Edition
- 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