As reported in the ‘Lovedrive’ review, Michael Schenker rejoined Scorpions after he left UFO. He toured with the band and left during the tour so Mathias Jabs was brought back in the fold after some heave negotiations. It is the line-up of Mathias Jabs, Rudolf Schenker, Klaus Meine, Francis Buchholz and Herman Rarebell that bring us the bands seventh studio album, ‘Animal Magnetism’. A name that was thought up by Mr. Rarebell.
The album was released on March 31, 1980 and saw the band maintain their current sound with hard rock songs that were melodic and catchy as hell. The sound that the world would soon catch on too and see them hit the stratosphere, but not just yet. The album went #52 in the U.S. and it would reach platinum status. In the UK, the album spawned two singles that reached the Top 100 though the only made it as high as the 70’s and not Top 40 hits. It was another album that saw the band keep moving in the right direction.
Now, like almost all of Scorpions album covers, this one too had a little controversy. It was designed by renowned artist, Storm Thorgerson of the design firm Hipgnosis. It had a young lady on her knees in front of a man and she only comes up waist high. It is very suggestive as we wonder is she going to do something sexually to the man although nothing is shown. It is purely speculation. As a result, there was no alternative cover done for this one. But the most interesting thing about the cover is the addition of the dog right next to the girl. Why is he/she there, we have no idea other than to stick with the name of the album, ‘Animal Magnetism’. It is so strange and yet so captivating. I love this cover for everything that it doesn’t show.
With their 1979 album, ‘Lovedrive’, Scorpions were starting to see international success. In the States, the album went to #55 and was certified Gold. In the UK, two of the singles charted. The band was enjoying their new success and the label was ready to capitalize on that success. On November 17, 1979, the band released their first compilation called ‘Best of Scorpions’. The album reached #180 on the Top 200 album chart and didn’t garner I think the fever the band and label were hoping.
The songs from the compilation come from four of their first five albums. There were no songs chosen from their debut album, ‘Lonesome Crow’. All the songs were from ‘Fly to the Rainbow’, ‘In Trance’, ‘Virgin Killer’ and ‘Taken By Force’. There were also no songs from the newest album ‘Lovedrive’. All the songs were from the Uli Jon Roth era of the band. I’ve read some of the songs were new mixes, but not all and the ones that were sounded pretty much the same. I am sure they cleaned them up so they would all sound consistent here on the album. Let’s jump right in…
We are now on the band’s sixth studio album and the first one with new guitarist Mathias Jabs. Mathias replaced Uli Jon Roth who was unhappy with the direction of the band and left to form his own band called Electric Sun. With Mathias on board, we now have what is considered the “classic” line-up because it was the line-up that had the most success. That line-up was Klaus Meine, Rudolf Schenker, Francis Buchholz and Herman Rarebell. But Mathias wasn’t the only lead guitarist on this album.
After leaving UFO, Michael Schenker returned to Scorpions to help work on the ‘Lovedrive’ album. Originally thought to only be on about 3 songs, Michael is on most of the album as he contributed backing vocals as well as lead guitar work on 5 songs. But he was not planning on touring with the band at least not until the band parted ways with Mathias Jabs. He joined in February 1979 at the beginning of the tour. However, it didn’t last long as by April, Michael left the Tour while they were in France. After what was said to be very intense negotiations, Mathias Jabs rejoined the band. Talk about drama!!
After 5 albums and the band in peak shape, it was time for a live album. While touring Japan in 1978, they recorded the two shows at Nakano Sun Plaza on April 24th and 27th. From those shows they pieced together a sensational double live album. Not only was it the band’s first live album, it was also the last album they would do with their label, RCA Records. If that wasn’t enough, it is also the last album to feature Uli Jon Roth as he left the band after the Japanese tour and prior to the release of this album. The band would audition close to 140 guitarists until they finally found the right fit in Matthias Jabs, but more on him with the next review in the series. This one is all about the live album.
The album would be released in Japan in August 1978 and around 6 months later, get released in Europe and then the U.S. The album finally saw Scorpions receive some success as they charted in 4 different countries reaching #10 in Germany and they went Gold in France. In an era of great live albums, there is no reason this shouldn’t be up there with some of the best as this takes some already great songs and turns them up a notch. I listened to this album in the car and on the turntable and once with headphones and let me tell you this is a headphone listen for the best experience. Trust me, you pick up so much more.
The band’s fifth album has both a first and a last point of interest. It was the band’s first album with new drummer, Herman Rarebell, and the band’s last with guitarist Uli Jon Roth. A little good and bad news rolled in to one. Herman replaced prior drummer Rudy Lenners and is the drummer that is most known with the band as he was there through their most successful years. Uli left the band because he didn’t like the direction the band was going in which was a more commercial rock sound plus he didn’t even sing a song on this album where he had at least 2 vocals on previous ones. Uli held on until the end of the tour for the album and then left to start his own band Electric Sun. That more commercial rock sound has proven to be quite successful for the band. The full band line-up was Klaus Meine, Uli Jon Roth, Rudolf Schenker, Francis Buchholz and Herman Rarebell. A very lethal combination.
The album was recorded from June to October of 1977 and was released on December 4, 1977 just in time for Christmas. I am not sure how successful this particular album was or what chart positions it hit (if any), but I do know that Apple Music considers this to be one of their most essential albums to have in your collection.
Another year, another Scorpions album. The band recorded their fourth album during 1976 and it was released on October 9, 1976. The album saw the band continue down the hard rock road and refining their sound more and more closer to what they became most famous for, but this album didn’t see them push much further in sales. The album did better outside of Germany seeing some success in Japan, but the U.S. still hadn’t jumped on board yet. In Japan, the album landed at #32 and sold over 100,000 copies but success elsewhere was coming, but not with this album.
With the last album, ‘In Trance’, the album cover saw a little controversy. ‘Virgin Killer’ looked at ‘In Trance’ and said “Hold my Beer”. The original album cover for this album was of a nude prepubescent girl with a broken glass effect over her private parts. This did not sit well with a lot of the buying public as some considered it child pornography. The album cover was not designed by the band as they generally had no say in the album artwork, that was handled by the label and this picture was handled by Steffan Böhle who was product manager for RCA Records. Some countries wouldn’t sell the album unless it was sealed in black plastic so the cover wasn’t visible. As a result, an alternate cover that featured the band members was issued and is the cover I have. I had the opportunity about 6 months ago to buy the original cover album at a record show, but they wanted $150 for it and I didn’t want to spend that much…maybe someday.
Ten months after the release of 1974’s ‘Fly to the Rainbow’, Scorpions recorded then released their third studio album on September 17, 1975 in Europe, but wouldn’t see a U.S. release until March 1976. This time around they had a new drummer as Jurgen Rosenthal left the band because he was drafted in to the Army. He was replaced by Rudy Lenners. The rest of the band was the same with Klaus Meine on lead vocals, Rudolf Schenker on rhythm guitar, Uli Jon Roth on lead guitar (& vocals) and Francis Buchholz on bass.
As far as a sound for the record, Scorpions continued on their hard rock road and left behind those epic 10 minutes songs for an album of 10 tracks within the standard 3 to 5 minute range. They were tighter, more melodic and we even get more Uli Jon Roth on vocals as he gets two songs this go round. This was also the first album that featured producer Dieter Dierks who would go on to produce all their album up to 1988’s Savage Amusement. I guess you could say he was the 6th member of the Scorpions.
This album was also the first album to include the now famous Scorpion log. If that wasn’t enough, it was the start of a set of album covers that would become rather controversial. This one, and the copy I happen to have, shows a beautiful lady standing over Uli’s guitar and one of her breasts is exposed. They would later change the cover to blackout that part hiding her breast. Honestly, this one is really hard to see and you have to be really looking for it to see it, but it is there. This wouldn’t be the last cover of the band to get censored. Censored cover or not, the album helped propel their sound and their popularity, but they were still not near their highest of highs yet. That wouldn’t come for several years.
After the debut album, ‘Lonesome Crow’, Michael Schenker was given an offer he couldn’t refuse. A chance to play guitar with the amazing band UFO. He was only kid so why not jump at the chance. They had asked Uli Jon Roth to join Scorpions after helping them finish out the tour, but Uli chose not to do it and instead stayed with the band he was also in called Dawn Road. Rudolf Schenker really wanted to work with Uli so he decided to break up the band and go join Dawn Road. Dawn Road already had Francis Buchholz (bass), Achim Kirschning (keyboards) and Jürgen Rosenthal (drums), but they amazingly found themselves needing a singer. Uli convinced Rudolf to invite Klaus Meine to come sing in the band…and he agreed.
Dawn Road had four members plus two old Scorpions members. Dawn Road basically outnumbered the Scorps. However, they decided to change the band name to Scorpions mainly because that name was more well known than Dawn Road and the Scorpions were back in business. They recorded the follow-up album ‘Fly to the Rainbow’ in April 1974 and on November 1, 1974, the album was released. The album ended up selling better than ‘Lonesome Crow’ and saw the band’s sound go from psychedelic rock to a more straight-forward hard rock sound…but not the 80’s rock sound yet…still some years off. One interesting thing to note is that 3 of the songs on the album were co-written by Michael Schenker which some how was part of the deal for him leaving the band.
The album cover is not quite what you’d expect from the Scorpions. The color scheme is not very metal and Uli Jon Roth has no idea what it means and I am guessing the band had no say in what it would be. The same design firm that did the debut album, which was great, did this one as well and I am not sure what drugs they were taking, but they had to be high as a freaking kite to come up with this nonsense. I do like the back cover with the band’s name on the guys ass..that’s kinda funny. My copy of the album is a standard U.S. release and nothing special so enough about that. Let’s get to the music.
For My Sunday Song #98, we take it back to the 80’s and hand it over to Scorpions with their ballad “Still Loving You” off the album ‘Love At First Sting” from 1984. With “Rock You Like a Hurricane”, I became a Scorpion fan and this song sealed the deal for life.
The song was the second single from the album and it only reached #64 on the Billboard Hot 100 which is crazy considering this song hit #1 in France. Yes, France. The Scorpions are credited with starting a baby boom in France in 1985 because of this song. I am not kidding!
The song is about a man who is in love with woman, but they fear the end of the relationship is fading and almost over. So what do they do, they try again to reignite that passion and flame and give it another shot. France is the country about love so that might be why it did so well.
At around 6:30, the song isn’t your typical power ballad..well at least in length. In style, it is exactly like every power ballad which is why it is a power ballad. The song’s slow crescendo throughout the song is it’s magic. The song keeps building and adding instruments and it gets more powerful and louder as it goes.