The Scorpions were flying high. From the release of ‘Lovedrive’ in 1979 all the way up to ‘Savage Amusement’ in 1988, they could do no wrong. Their label, Mercury Records, thought, “hey, good time for a greatest hits compilation”…and ‘Best of Rockers ‘N’ Ballads’ was born. Since they have had other compilations focusing on Pre-‘Lovedrive’, Mercury Records released a compilation of only songs that were during the bands tenure on Mercury from 1979-1988. To make it enticing to fans, they added a few new remixes and unreleased tracks and I am a fan of new mixes and unreleased tracks.
The album was released on November 29, 1989 just in time for Christmas. And what a present it was. The album sold over 1,000,000 copies and is the only Scorpions compilation to be certified Platinum. The album went to #43 on the U.S. charts and had one single that went to #5 on the Mainstream Rock Charts. Now, depending on where you were in the world, you got a different track list. The European version had an extra track, “Is There Anybody There” from ‘Lovedrive, but this was a remix and previously unreleased. They also got a remix of “Hey You” which is a Non-Album single from 1980 that hasn’t been released on any album up to this point. The US and Japanese releases did not have either of those tracks, but did have the original version of “Hey You”. The European CD release also included one more rare track. It was the version of “China White” which features the guitar solo that was only available on the US Blackout release. If you are a completist on the Scorpions, you have a lot to buy here.
The compilation kicks with the band’s signature song ,“Rock You Like a Hurricane”, which took them to another level. It only went to #25 on the Top 40 chart, but it has lived on and given the band one of the quintessential 80’s rock songs ever made. There is no one that doesn’t know this song the second that opening riff kicks in. It is a rock anthem like very few achieve. For ever how many songs the album sold, most were sold because of this track. With heavy riffs, killer solos and one of the most catchiest choruses ever, this song took the band to a level they probably never thought they would see.
The next track is a cover of The Who’s “I Can’t Explain” which was only available on the Make A Difference charity compilation ‘Stairway to Heaven/Highway to Hell’. As far as covers go, this one is pretty great. Scorpions made it their own and really rocked it out. Is it better then the original, no, you can’t beat The Who…but I do like this one a lot.
Then we get to the ballad of all ballads for me. “Still Loving You” is one of my favorite Scorpions ballads and one of my favorite all time as well. About a couple in love that knows its over, but try to make it work one more time. The song opens with some gentle, soft riffing and Klaus singing in almost a whisper. Then the power part of the ballad kicks in and the guitar licks are blissfully beautiful and the chorus is gut-wrenchingly heartbreaking and lovely at the same time. I think this might one of Klaus Meine’s best vocal performances on any album.
“Big City Nights” was the third single off ‘Love at First Sting’. It leans more to the 80’s pop rock, very radio friendly that Scorps mastered and although a rocker, a little calmer then some of their hits. It is very effective with its cool riff, contagious chorus and of course, that great Klaus vocal. What is there not to like.
“Lovedrive” is a remix on my version and it has a quick paced opening guitar riffs and groove that is driving fast at breakneck speeds. This is pure classic Scorpions with a catchy chorus, soaring guitars, Klaus screams and groovetastic beats. Michael Schenker is back on this one doing the solo and he lets one rip. The ending is a crazy Rarebell drum barrage that goes out with a bang! Is the remix notably difference. No, I don’t think so.
Another previously unreleased remix is “Holiday”. This remix adds 15 seconds to an already long track bringing the run time to 6:46. The final track from ‘Lovedrive’ is another ballad and might be one of their best. “Holiday” is an acoustic, heartfelt masterpiece. A six minute journey that is both tender and sweet at times and feels like a long dance with a loved one. It does ramp up some energy for a brief moment before going back to the softer side of the band. The burst of energy is what helps it take it to another level.
The second side kicks off with “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 the band hitting its stride.
The first single off ‘Savage Amusement’ was “Rhythm of Love” and it 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.
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 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.
Up next is “Hey You” which was a Non-Album Single during the ‘Blackout’ era. It has a weird kind of groove to it and Klaus goes really high on his range, like female sounding high. The happy upbeat chorus then crashes back down to the painful choruses. It is a love obsession that might be going wrong. It is a very weird and usual song and not your typical Scorpions track which I think makes it that much more interesting.
The most interesting song on “Blackout” was “The Zoo” and it is a pure classic. It has rip-roaring riffs along with pulse pounding percussion and then that groove chugs along like a run away locomotive. Klaus delivers one of his finest vocal performances with some great inflections in his delivery. It is a pure masterpiece of a track and is like nothing else on the album. It sweeps you up in the emotion and when that chorus hits, it bores in to your ears like a sweet ear candy and you can’t help but get it stuck in your head. And it has some Frampton Talk Box on the guitar and man, I’m all in at this point.
As far as compilations go, Mercury Records hit it out of the park with this one. Scorpions were riding high and since 1979’s ‘Lovedrive’ they have been stacking up the hits. What makes this even better is you do get a couple rare tracks that had not been on a Scorpions release prior and a couple remixes that were previously unavailable prior to this. If you love this era, this is the set for you. My Overall Score is a 5.0 out of 5.0 Stars. A must have for any Scorpions fan.
NEXT UP: CRAZY WORLD (1990)
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