Scorpions – ‘Face the Heat’ (1993) – Album Review (The Scorpions Collection Series)

We are not on to the twelfth studio album for the Scorpions and it is called ‘Face the Heat’. It sees the band bring on a new producer with the late, Bruce Fairbairn and it sees them go a little more political as well as change their sound a little to be heavier at times and yet more contemporary. Whether or not that is a good thing we will soon see. As with most Fairbairn produced albums, we see the band go to the famous Little Mountain Studios in Vancouver Canada to record this one as that was Bruce’s home base. And with them being in Canada, Bruce brought in Paul Laine to work on some backing vocals and as you know, Paul Laine was my first rock & roll star interview so anytime I can draw a connection to him, I point it out.

The band saw their first line-up change in a long time as Francis Buchholz left the band and new bass player, Ralph Rieckermann was now in. This would also end up being Herman Rarebell’s last album with the band but we will get to that on the next album. The rest of the gang was still in place with Klaus Meine, Rudolf Schenker and Mathias Jabs. The album was released on September 21, 1993 and saw the band’s popularity drop significantly. The album only went to #24 on the US Billboard 200 and only sold 450,000 copies, not even going Gold. Was it the change in sound or the fact the US was going in to a more grunge direction. I think it was a little of both.

Now my copy is a recent re-issue of the album with the first LP being the regular album and then a Bonus E.P. added holding 4 bonus tracks a couple of which were bonus tracks on the European and Japanese editions of the original album. The first LP is the standard 33 1/3 RPM while the Bonus E.P. was a 45 RPM and it is important to note that because when you throw on the second LP, if you don’t make the switch it sounds like a demon is singing as it is too slow. Now, if you play the 2nd first and then the first 2nd, you get Alvin & the Chipmunks, but I’m going off topic now. Back to the album.

The album kicks off with what might be the heaviest song on the album with “Alien Nation”. The song sees the band go more political as it is about the unification of Germany after the fall of the Berlin Wall. It has a rip roaring riff to open the song and then Herman comes in slamming the drums. A complete and total beast of a track. Klaus sounds amazing and the album kicks off with a brutal start. Too band it might be the best song on the album which means it might be downhill from here.

Next up is “No Pain No Gain” which is another rocker and even has a little talk box added to it. It has a promising start with some great riffs and guitar work, but the chorus is flat and not memorable as it is too generic and simple. Usually that is a good thing for the Scorps, but it didn’t leave me wanting more when it was said and done.

Things get back on track with “Someone to Touch”. This is a more melodic rocker and reminds me of the Scorpions that I love. It has that whole 80’s rocker vibe and I’m good with that. The chorus is catchy and will get you moving. Yes the song is cheesy, but Scorps can do cheesy well. Klaus sounds great as usual and it is a party rock song at its best with some great guitar work from the boys and makes this a stellar track on an album with not so much stellar.

We get to the first ballad with “Under the Same Sun” which I feel the band was trying to recreate “Winds of Change”, but with no success. Scorpions are great with ballads, but when you try this hard to repeat the success of another ballad, it doesn’t work. Very skippable for me as it drones on and depresses the hell out of me with that attempt at feelings. Klaus does sound amazing as he always does, but they tried too hard on this one.

For my album version, they switched “Unholy Alliance” in the track listing with “Taxman Woman”. “Taxman Woman” has some great guitar riffs and is another rocker which is needed after that ballad. It is another paint by numbers track and although fun while you are listening to it (and I do enjoy it), it however fades from member very fast.

Side 2 kicks off with “Unholy Alliance” is another heavier track, but the tempo is slowed down a little making it a little darker in tone. The chorus is catchy albeit a little short and repetitive. Another great track while you listening to it, but like the last track, pretty forgettable after a few minutes.

We then get to another ballad with “Woman” and I will admit, I really do love this one. It has a blues touch to it and some nice orchestration and Klaus really is emotive with his tone as he sings those lyrics. And those screams he has towards the middle and the end are sensational. It ranks right up there with “Still Loving You” for me.

“Hate to Be Nice” is back to basics with the band. Another hard rock track reminiscent of the good ol’ 80’s. It is simple, generic, but it is the sound I grew up loving and therefore, I kind of dig this one too. When you hear this, you know what you are getting and it is a good rocking time. Bring it!!

Things get a little heavier with “Ship of Fools” and the tempo goes up a notch, but the more modern sound doesn’t do anything for me. The chorus is dull and I forget what song I’m listening to almost immediately…now what was I talking about.

The last track on the standard album is “Nightmare Avenue” and it is even heavier and faster than the prior song yet not as heavy as “Alien Nation”. The riffs aren’t that great, I don’t like the drum sound and the song loses me in the verses, but the choruses aren’t bad and has some great harmonies. The speed of the song leaves you tired by the end.

Now we are on to the Bonus E.P. and first up is the final U.S. version called “Lonely Nights”. It is another ballad and I love the acoustic guitar work which gives it an almost atmospheric feel that matches perfectly with Klaus and his emotive vocals. It is a sweet, beautiful piece that further enforces how great the Scorpions are on ballads. The power in power ballad kicks in the chorus as the electric guitars kick in and the drums get heavier. Another fine example on how to do an amazing ballad. Not many did it as well as Scorpions.

“Destin” is another ballad and I can see why it was left off the album as it doesn’t quite feel complete/finished. Klaus’ vocals don’t feel smoothed out and he isn’t singing with the full emotion we are used to. Nice bass work on it, but otherwise forgettable. This was a European Bonus Track.

Next up is the hidden track on the original album called “His Latest Flame” which is an old Elvis Cover. It is a total blast as it has that old early 60’s rock sound. The sax really gives it that punch and so does the hand claps. A totally left field song and I love it.

The last track is “Daddy’s Girl” which was a Japanese and European bonus track. It is another ballad and this one is acoustic as well. It is a tender, heartfelt piece and really has a somber feel to it. Full of sadness. It still feels like it doesn’t find itself and might need a little more work to truly finish it off, but it isn’t a bad track. A little something different.

Track Listing:

  1. Alien Nation – Keeper
  2. No Pain No Gain – Delete
  3. Someone to Touch – Keeper
  4. Under the Same Sun – Delete
  5. Taxman Woman – Keeper (1/2 Point)
  6. Unholy Alliance – Keeper (1/2 Point)
  7. Woman – Keeper
  8. Hate to Be Nice – Keeper
  9. Ship of Fools – Delete
  10. Nightmare Avenue – Keeper (1/2 Point)
  11. Lonely Nights (Bonus E.P.) – Keeper
  12. Destin (Bonus E.P. – European/Japanese Release) – Delete
  13. His Latest Flame (Bonus E.P. – U.S. Hidden Track) – Keeper
  14. Daddy’s Girl (Bonus E.P. – European Release) – Keeper (1/2 Point)

The Track Score is 8 out of 14 Tracks or 57%.  This was the last album I bought from the band for about a decade. I sort of jumped off ship at this point to finally come back some time in the 00’s with “Humanity: Hour 1”.  The album had a few great songs, but the rest was forgettable moments after you heard it. Production was great, but the songs weren’t.  The idea of a heavier Scorpions would’ve been great, but they could find the right feel.  The band seemed to be out of steam as they tried to be political due to the success of “Wind of Change”, but that direction led them to lose themselves and what makes the Scorpions…the Scorpions.  My Overall Score is 3.0 out of 5.0 Stars.  It has its moments, but they are few and far between.

NEXT UP: LIVE BITES (1995)

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

18 thoughts on “Scorpions – ‘Face the Heat’ (1993) – Album Review (The Scorpions Collection Series)

  1. A keeper! Faith restored! Five string bass, the groove restored and the heaviness was back. The sins of Crazy World’s cheese are forgiven. The Alien Nation has begun. Christmas 1993. A great gift.

    We discussed His Latest Flame on Friday’s show!

    I have different bonus tracks and need to track down the Euro version. I have these:

    Lonely Nights – on both US and Japanese
    His Latest Flame – US version but not Japanese
    Kami O Shin Jiru – Japanese only
    Daddy’s Girl – Japanese only

    Liked by 1 person

  2. His Latest Flame first came up in 1989 as the Scorpions song to include on Stairway to Heaven / Highway to Hell with Bruce Fairbairn. Obviously they chose I Can’t Explain instead, but I have a 1989 interview with the singing part of His Latest Flame on MuchMusic.

    Fairbairn did not work out, which upset the band, but they finally got to work with him on Face the Heat again and the idea was resurrected.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Cd version seems to have a bit different order:
    Alien nation
    No pain no gain
    Someone to touch
    Under the same sun
    Unholy alliance
    Woman
    Hate to be nice
    Taxman woman
    Ship of fools
    Nightmare avenue
    Lonely nights
    Destin
    Daddy’s girl

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I do like the album but it’s not terribly memorable. I can go back and enjoy No Pain No Gain and Ship Of Fools when I play them but the songs won’t last with me. Alien Nation is really the only one I retain and I wish they’d have done more “dark and heavy” like that since they were going about being heavy anyway. The album did keep them on my radar at the time when I was listening to very heavy stuff, but it didn’t really stick as the years went on.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Had some good stuff on it. Fair score and I never knew your homeboy Laine was on it as well. I bought Live Bites than checked out on new Scorps albums until they made me a Rock Believer in 2022! lol

    Liked by 1 person

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