Scorpions – ‘Savage Amusement’ (1988) – Album Review (The Scorpions Collection Series)

It had been four years since the band’s last studio album ‘Love at First Sting’ in 1984. The band toured extensively for that record and then released a live record ‘World Wide Live’ celebrating that tour. Then the band toured again for the Live album and they were exhausted. They finally headed back in the studio in 1987 to start recording ‘Savage Amusement’ and worked on the new album through to early 1988. The band’s sound changed as they became way more polished and mature sounding thanks in large part to the success of Def Leppard. I would say the sound tried to mirror them to some degree.

The album saw the full band return with Klaus Meine, Rudolf Schenker, Mathias Jabs, Francis Buchholz and Herman Rarebell. The producer was the same as well with Dieter Dierks, however, this would wind up being his last Scorpions album. ‘The ‘Savage Amusement’ was released on April 16, 1988 and did really well going to #5 in the U.S. and going Platinum with over 1,000,000 copies sold. Sadly though, it was considered a disappointment.

I have to admit, I love my copy of this album. It is still wrapped in the cellophane, it still has the hype sticker, it still has the inner sleeve in tact and it still has the cheap ass sales sticker from the record store it was originally sold at. And it is value priced as well at only $6.96. Insane. The cover itself is not very controversial as they have had in the past. There are no boob or side boob shots. I think having the ladies leg turn in to a Scorpion’s tail is pretty cool. All-in-all, not a bad cover. Heck, even the band picture on the back is pretty great. They don’t have too many good band pictures as they usually are pretty cheesy looking. But enough about that, let us get to the music.

SIDE 1:

The album kicks off with the song “Don’t Stop at the Top” and it immediately lets you know this isn’t the same Scorpions we knew before. It is way more polished, clean and slick. It isn’t as heavy as some previous openers, but it is still a rocker. The band tries to come across as more serious, but the song still is full of hooks and melodies and still has that classic Klaus vocal as he won’t miss a good scream opportunity. I really do like this song and I did love this album when it came out, but is it holding up like before…we will see.

The first single off the album was “Rhythm of Love” and was the most successful song on the album going to #6 on the Mainstream Rock Chart, but only to #75 on the Hot 100 which isn’t that great. It is a power ballad and rather quick on the album to throw that in if you were asking my opinion. It is hooky and catchy as hell which are two ingredients you need for a good ballad. The guitar riffs are great and the solo rips through perfectly. The only problem with it is it sounds like every other ballad out there which I believe was the point. One call fact about the song is the backing vocals include the great Lee Aaron.

“Passion Rules the Game” brings us back to the slick, overly polished rocker. It is pure cheese, but I like a little cheese every now and again. The topic of the song seems to be about gambling which really kills the song a little as they throw in a lot of cliches, but I do like the sound and tone of the song. Plus, Klaus really sounds great and that chorus is so catchy, if it was Covid, we would all be sick right now (ugh…that was a bad…oh well, not deleting that line now). As much as I do like this song, it is the epitome of what is wrong with this album.

Next is the painfully bad “Media Overkill” with some really bad Def Leppard “Rocket” sound effects. It is as far from the Scorpions sound as you can get. The chorus is repetitive to the point of ad nauseum. Now, there is a cool bassline through out and some 80’s cliches such as a talk box, but I don’t completely hate this song. It isn’t my favorite either, however, there is a fun vibe to it.

Then it is back to the power ballad and this time we get the epically long “Walking on the Edge” at over 5 minutes in length. It starts off so quiet and slow. Klaus vocals are almost a whisper and by the chorus it builds to release the “power” part of power ballad. For me, it isn’t a bad ballad, it is just too long and left me bored. They are trying to make the song feel bigger than it really is and I think that is the problem.

SIDE 2:

Side 2 kicks off with the power metal anthem, “We Let It Rock…You Let it Roll”. This is also the B-Side of “Rhythm of Love”. It is as close to the old Scorpions that we get on the album. It is the most rock & roll song on the album and a great way to kick off Side 2. Some of the best guitar work on the album as well with cool riffs and a great solo. Finally a hint of what we love the most about the Scorpions.

“Every Minute Every Day” is back to the new Scorpions sound with a lot of keyboards on this one. The opening background vocals on the song are done by Accept’s own Peter Baltes before Klaus comes in with the first verse. It is a well-polished, slick song and one of my favorites on the album. As I said, I loved this album when it came out and this was one of the reasons as the bridge and chorus were so smooth, awesome and catchy as hell for me. It was ear candy for me.

Next up is “Love on the Run” and it brings the power back in almost speed metal fashion. A high energy, blistering fast song is sort of the kick in the pants this album needs. However, the song isn’t that great nor that memorable as I was sitting here writing this and before the song started I couldn’t remember how it went. Once it started I remembered, but not a good sign in my book. It is a generic, rocker that is easily forgettable.

The final track is yet another ballad, but might be the best one on the album. “Believe in Love” is both gentle and also a little romantic…ahh that’s sweet! Klaus can deliver an emotive vocal performance and he does that here in spades. Everyone is playing for the song as everything is perfectly placed with each note strummed and each drum hit, it all works together as an overall piece. Not a bad way to go out even though I prefer to go out with a bang, I’ll take this.

Track Listing:

  1. Don’t Stop at the Top – Keeper
  2. Rhythm of Love – Keeper
  3. Passion Rules the Game – Keeper
  4. Media Overkill – Keeper (1/2 Point)
  5. Walking on the Edge – Delete
  6. We Let it Rock…You Let it Roll – Keeper
  7. Every Minute Every Day – Keeper
  8. Love on the Run – Delete
  9. Believe in Love – Keeper

The Track Score is 6.5 out 9.0 or 72%.  That is a respectable score and I believe indicative of the whole album. It is a well-polished machine with slick songs that make the album feel mature and yet a bit over-produced.  I blame the producer and the record company for this one as I am sure they pressured everyone to modernize the sound with the changing tide in the music.  As I’ve said before, I loved this album when it came out because of the way it sounded, which was like everything else at the time, but today I feel that is its downfall.  I still love this album, however, I can now see its limitations. My Overall Score is a 3.5 out of 5.0 Stars and it would’ve been higher back in the day, but we aren’t back in 1988 now are we.

NEXT UP: “RHYTHM OF LOVE” (1988) – SINGLES BOX SET

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) – Bonus Edition
  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

20 thoughts on “Scorpions – ‘Savage Amusement’ (1988) – Album Review (The Scorpions Collection Series)

  1. S.A when it came out I pounced on it as it was ok not great. Too be honest with you I probably haven’t listened to it since 1988! It was funny as both Scorps and Priest put out less then satisfying albums that year.
    Still though Rhythm of Love is a great track and good job name checking Lee Aaron. That is a great song and one in which I do remember. Cool to score records in there original shrink wrap from what 34 years ago!
    Great stuff

    Liked by 1 person

      1. Production issues aside, they still knew how to write a killer hook, a skill that completely deserted them from their next album on. (Ok, Wind of Change was catchy, but for all the wrong reasons).

        Like

  2. It always bugged me that you can’t really hear Lee Aaron. Well maybe some people could; I can’t! I got this album for my birthday in 88, and in Canada the Lee Aaron connection was a big deal. MuchMusic wouldn’t stop mentioning it. I have a Scorpions interview where they were asked about it.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. First of all, great line: “Plus, Klaus really sounds great and that chorus is so catchy, if it was Covid, we would all be sick right now (ugh…that was a bad…oh well, not deleting that line now).” Second of all, this is what happens when a band goes too commercial!

    Like

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