Scorpions – ‘Pure Instinct’ (1996) – Album Review (The Scorpions Collection Series)

We are to the band’s 13th Studio album now in the series, however, 13 isn’t really their lucky number with this one. First off, longtime Scorpions drummer, Herman Rarebell, left the band to go start his own record label. They didn’t replace him right away and used a session drummer, Curt Cress, to handle the daunting task of following Rarebell’s footsteps. The band did replace the role with James Kottak who ended up being in the band longer than Herman was as he lasted almost 20 years before he was fired in 2016. The rest of the band was in tact with Klaus Meine, Rudolf Schenker, Mathias Jabs and the newest member Ralph Rieckermann. And for this album, they brought back as producer, Keith Olsen, who helped produced the album ‘Crazy World’. He produced the first seven tracks while Erwin Musper and the Scorps did the rest.

‘Pure Instinct’ followed in the footsteps of several Scorpions albums and showed nudity. My CD has the original nude cover of the humans in the cage being watched by the animals instead of the other way around. For those parts of the world that had issues with the cover, there was an alternate cover of just the band which is what I am showing as the header as I don’t want to be flagged on Facebook or any site for the so called offensive cover. But what I find offensive is the music on this album. This is not a rock album by any stretch of the imagination. Instead we get an album that is mostly ballads and then heavier songs that are more pop than hard rock except maybe for the opening track.

They released several songs as singles and the only one to chart in the U.S. was “Wild Child” which went to #19 on the Mainstream Rock Chart. All the other singles charted, just not in the U.S. as the album didn’t do well at all not even reaching Gold. The album only went to #99 on the Album Charts which is not good for a Scorpions record. There isn’t anything else I want to add at this point so let’s get in to the meat of this album and the music.

The album starts off with what sounds like bagpipes before the full band kicks in with the heavy drums on the verses and riffing guitars throughout and a solo that is so high pitched the dog howled! Klaus vocals are as perfect and classic sounding as ever. The chorus is catchy and sounds like Scorpions through and through. “Wild Child” is a great opening rocker to kick things off.

“But the Best For You” isn’t rock, but it isn’t a ballad either. It is a pop song…a bouncy little pop song despite what that opening riff leads you to believe. It has some great acoustic guitars, it is bass heavy and it is a snorefest. Klaus sings the verses so soft and with so little emotion and then the chorus builds and tries to rock out, but doesn’t know how. A total let down after that solid opener.

The next track is the ballad “Does Anyone Know” which is trying its damndest to be “Winds of Change”, but doesn’t hold a candle to that one. If it didn’t try to sound like that, it might actually be a decent ballad but with how they did it, not even close. It is almost 6 minutes of misery.

“Stone in my Shoe” might be an awful song name, but it is an upbeat pop rocker that brings some much needed energy to this hot mess. It shows the band still has a little life in them, thank goodness. It is a modern sounding rocker (modern for the 90’s at least) and is a little too polished, but I’ll take it as it is a fun sounding track and a decent guitar solo to boot.

The band gets a little bluesy and with the next track, “Soul Behind the Face”. I don’t know if I’d classify this one as a ballad, but it isn’t a rocker either, okay, maybe its a power ballad with little power. Klaus gives the lyrics some life and he still sounds awesome. The chorus will hook you in, the guitar break is soulful and pleasant and fits the song well. All-in-all, not a bad track.

I’m not sure if The Beach Boys took over the next track, “Oh Girl (I Wanna Be With You)”, starts off with those Beach Boy harmonies before the guitar kicks in and then it is back to the rocking. Very weird. The chorus is typical 80’s glam rock sounding and Klaus gets pretty high on the notes. There is a change up in the middle of the song that seems a little weird, but overall not a terrible track.

Then it is back to the ballads and this time, I’m all in. “When You Came Into My Life” sees some heartfelt acoustic guitars and passionate lyrics delivered effortlessly from Klaus. The song continues to build and the chorus is a big payoff as it grabs hold and pulls you in. Klaus is in classic form (think “Still Loving You”). The best ballad on the album in my book.

Then Mathias Jabs pulls out the slide guitar on “Where the River Flows” and he might be outdone by the wicked bass line by Ralph. An upbeat rocker with a chorus to die for. It will hook you in and get you singing along almost immediately as Klaus has a way of drawing you in. It is an uptempo track that might be more pop than rock, but still great nonetheless. One of the better tracks on the album for sure.

Then we get the acoustic track “Time Will Call Your Name” and has a fantastic opening. The verses don’t quite fit the feel of the guitars until you get to the bridge and all comes in to place. There is some orchestration in it that makes the song seem bigger than really is. It is one of those songs that could be something, but wasn’t worked through enough to fully find the magic. Not a bad track, but not great either.

The first single from the album was the ballad “You and I” and I have to admit, it isn’t a bad track at all. Still not up to their best but I can see the charm in it and it is hard to resist Klaus when he is the zone as he is with this one. It is more acoustic guitars and some electric. The drumming on it was well done with just enough umph to give the power to the power ballad…but it is the mid-90’s and ballads aren’t really in anymore.

“Are You The One?” is yet another ballad with some more string orchestration. It has some annoying keyboards and only Klaus’ vocals front & center. The production is trying to make this be some grand and epic track, but it never reaches the heights it is aiming. There is some nice acoustic work…yet again…but there is no big payoff to the track.

Track Listing:

  1. Wild Child – Keeper
  2. But the Best For You – Delete
  3. Does Anyone Know – Delete
  4. Stone In My Shoe – Keeper
  5. Soul Behind the Face – Keeper
  6. Oh Girl (I Wanna Be With You) – Keeper (1/2 Point) 
  7. When You Came Into My Life – Keeper
  8. Where The River Flows – Keeper
  9. Time Will Call Your Name – Keeper (1/2 Point) 
  10. You and I – Keeper (1/2 Point) 
  11. Are You The One? – Delete

The Track Score is 6.5 out of 11 or 59%.  If you like ballads, then this is the album for you.  However, if you are like most people and there should be more rockers than ballads, then this isn’t for you.  And when I say rockers, that is a little misleading because this one doesn’t have many and the ones that are might be closer to pop rock than hard rock.  Even though the album grew on me a little, it also bored me a little too which is never a good thing.  Musically, the band sounds good; Vocally, Klaus still sound great; but the songs…oh the songs…didn’t have the punch they needed and too many ballads drag the record down.  It is funny how some of the 80’s bands went really heavy in the mid-90’s and changed up their sound completely, Scorpions thought the softer route was the way to go…they were wrong.  My Overall Score is 2.5 out of 5.0 Stars.  

NEXT UP: BIG CITY NIGHTS (COMPILATION) (1998)

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. Bad for Good: The Best of Scorpions (2002)
  34. Unbreakable (2004)
  35. Humanity: Hour 1 (2007)
  36. Sting in the Tail (2010)
  37. Comeblack (2011)
  38. MTV Unplugged – Live in Athens (2013)
  39. Return to Forever (2015)
  40. Rock Believer (2022)
  41. The Albums Ranked Worst to First

17 thoughts on “Scorpions – ‘Pure Instinct’ (1996) – Album Review (The Scorpions Collection Series)

  1. Never bought this and heard this other than Wild Child. I guess thats for the better isn’t it Johnny. The reviews of this at the time weren’t that good and plus back in 99 I had 3 young daughters so money was going elsewhere and I had to be selective about buying music ….

    Liked by 1 person

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