Scorpions – ‘Eye II Eye’ (1999) – Album Review (The Scorpions Collection Series)

For the band’s fourteenth album, ‘Eye II Eye’, Scorpions decided to take a hard left turn and change up their sound as that was what most bands were doing during the 90’s. They decided to follow trends instead of being themselves. They had become insecure and started listening to the record companies and producers rather than go with their gut. Per Mathias Jabs, ‘Eye II Eye’ was the band’s biggest mistake. In fact, it almost destroyed them with their fans as it was too much a change. Thankfully the would recover, albeit years later.

The album was released on March 9, 1999 and though it did chart in their home country of Germany (#6), it failed to gain any ground whatsoever in the UK and the US. Their one single, “Mysterious” did chart on the US Mainstream Rock track going to #26, but outside of that, there was nothing. Producer Peter Wolf from Austria was brought in to man the boards and the album was recorded at Little America Studios in Austria. Peter help co-write a bunch of the album and some other guests were brought in including Marti Frederiksen and the wonderful Mick Jones from Foreigner.

The band was still Klaus Meine, Rudolf Schenker and Mathias Jabs as the man group and you can tell as they are the only 3 on the cover. The rest of the band saw Ralph Rieckermann on bass and for the first time saw James Kottak on drums. This would end up being Ralph’s last album with the band. And on one song on backing vocals we have long time drummer, Herman Rarebell which I thought was really cool. The sound of this album was a little pop and a little techno at times with very little rock which is why the fans weren’t happy with this release. Should we see what all the fuss was about? Okay, why not…

“Mysterious” opens the album and you get a little electronica, almost dance type music. Have the Scorps gone all boy band on us?? When the song finally kicks in to full band mode, it improves a little. The chorus is catchy and all, but this is not the Scorpions you remember and love. Nope, this is a brand new band trying to follow trends and find itself as they are completely lost at this point and it’s obvious. At least there is a guitar solo that toughens the song up a little, Overall, not a bad song when you compare it to the rest of the album.

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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.

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Scorpions – ‘Live Bites’ (1995) – Album Review (The Scorpions Collection Series)

The Scorpions camp felt it was time for another live album. This would be the band’s third to date and was released April 3, 1995. Now, the disc is not one show as that would be the smart thing to do and this instead is the easy way out. They took shows from several concerts from 1988 to 1994. The cities were Leningrad (Russia), San Francisco (US), Mexico City (Mexico), Berlin (Germany) and Munich (Germany). The album has the normal crew of Klaus Meine, Rudolf Schenker, Mathais Jabs, Herman Rarebell and current bass player, Ralph Rieckermann. However, most of the bass playing is long time member Francis Buchholz. The best thing about the album is that they did include 3 studio tracks which is the real reason to buy. No definitive time on the recordings, but I believe they range for 1988-1995, just no where I can prove that out.

As far as live albums go, it does sound fantastic. The guitar sound is actually killer, almost to amazing which makes me wonder if any touch up was done. And Klaus’ vocals are spot on, the drum sound is hard and heavy. There is no denying these boys can play live. They kick off with “Tease Me Please Me” and it would be a good song to start with as it totally rocks out and gets you on your feet. Then we get a real treat with the ‘Lovedrive’ track “Is There Anybody There”. I love the reggae vibe to the song. I really unexpected choice for the live show, but very welcomed. Really cool. Back to the heavy rock guitar sound with “Rhythm of Love” and they nail it here before going in to the only song that is a found on another live album and that is the fantastic “In Trance” and this is a classic track. Man is it good.

The first misstep for me is “No Pain No Gain” as I’m not a fan of this song, but they do make it sound a little better than the studio track here. It fits better in the live setting than album setting, but not by much. Then from ‘Blackout’ we get “When the Smoke is Going Down” and another surprise track for me. I didn’t like this song as the ending to that album, but mixed here in the middle of the show and listening to Klaus sound incredible on this one, I dig it here. Next up is “Living for Tomorrow” and this song had been released previously on the 1992 compilation called ‘Still Loving You’. On here, two slow songs in a row really can start to drag the show down. Klaus speaks to the crowd in Russian as it was recorded in Leningrad.

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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.

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Scorpions – “Don’t Believe Her” – Promo CD (1990) – Single Review (The Scorpions Collection Series)

We are now on the third promotional item I have for the Scorpions album ‘Crazy World’. This time around we have the Promotional CD Single for the song “Don’t Believe Her”. It was released as a single in December 1990 and was written by Herman Rarebell, Klaus Meine, Jim Vallance and Rudolf Schenker. The song went to #13 in the U.S. on the Hot Mainstream Rock Tracks Chart and it did go to #77 on the UK Singles Chart. A little better than the first single on the album as that only charted in the U.S.

My copy is the US Promotional Copy of the Single on CD. There was no cover for it, it only showed the CD, but it did have a back cover. It also has the now infamous words “For Promotional Use Only…Not For Sale” on the back cover and at the bottom of the CD. I do like that the CD is a picture disc considering we had no cover for it.

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Scorpions – “Tease Me Please Me” – Promo CD (1990) – Single Review (The Scorpions Collection Series)

We are now to the 2nd of the 4 Promo pieces I have in my Scorpions Collection from the album ‘Crazy World’. The song this time is the opening album track, “Tease Me Please Me”. It was released in November 1990 and was written by Klaus Meine, Mathias Jabs, Herman Rarebell and Jim Vallance. It did go to #8 on the US Hot Mainstream Rock Track Chart, but didn’t chart anywhere else.

My version is the U.S. edition and it is a cheap little cardboard box with a sliding CD sleeve out the side of the packaging. At the bottom of the CD, it does say those famous words…”For Promotional Use Only…Not For Sale”. Oh, I love those words.

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Scorpions – ‘Crazy World’ (1990) – Album Review (The Scorpions Collection Series)

The band’s eleventh studio was recorded in 1990 and was the first album in year (maybe decades) to not include Dieter Dierks as producer. Instead, they went with Keith Olsen and went back to a less polished sound which helped see the album go to #21 in the U.S. upon its release on November 6, 1990. It is also the last album to be certified 2X Platinum in the States. It is also known as the band’s first #1 album in their home country of Germany which I find insane it took that long.

The band is still in tact with Klaus Meine, Rudolf Schenker, Mathias Jabs, Francis Buchholz and Herman Rarebell. Little did we know though that this would be the last album to feature longtime bassist, Francis Buchholz. But before he leaves, he actually gets his first songwriting credit with the song “Kicks After Six” which we will talk about soon enough. This album saw the band have a more mature tone in some of their songwriting, but don’t worry there is still the whole sleazy piece of rock as well. The best of both worlds.

SIDE 1:

The album opens with, “Tease Me Please Me”, which is a sleazy little track that seems part Motley Crue, part everything else at the time and that is okay. The song is a rocker that doesn’t take a lot of thought, but it still kicks ass. A fun opening track with a cool riff, some nasty guitar work, Klaus’ gritty vocals and overall catchy as hell. It is straight up down and dirty rock & roll. Yes, please…sign me up.

Don’t Believe Her” is up next and it is proof that the Scorpions were now an American rock band as the sound is like every other band rocking out in the U.S. at the time. I really like the opening guitar work and then it goes very Ratt-like with the tone. The only thing missing was Pearcy’s rough vocals. Instead we get much better with Klaus. The song isn’t something to write home about, but it is still a fun, upbeat song although chorus is pretty weak.

Then it is more radio-fodder with “To Be With You In Heaven”. I thought it was going to be a ballad, but it is too upbeat and too much a rocker to be one, but it doesn’t miss by much. Rarebell has a slamming drumming beat as the base to the song. The song does have those romantic lyrics you’d expect in a ballad and Klaus delivers them flawlessly, but still not a ballad with that dual guitar work from Jabs and Schenker.

The next track was the first ballad and it is the band’s mega-hit “Wind of Change”. The song was written by Klaus Meine and was inspired by the band’s trip to the Moscow Peace Festival in 1989. The song is about the change that was brewing in the Soviet Union and in Berlin. When the Wall fell and the Soviet Union was no more, the song was a unifying song for everyone. The whistling in the song was by Klaus, Mathias was playing the rhythm guitar and Schenker handled the solo. A slow ballad that seem to strike a chord with everyone as it went to #1 in 9 countries and #4 in the U.S. It was certified Silver, Gold or Platinum in 9 countries as well. To say this was a worldwide phenomenon would be understatement. And the YouTube video is closing in on almost 1 Billion views…impressive.

The band ends Side 1 with “Restless Nights” which is very bluesy and almost a doom like vibe to the whole thing. The chorus picks up and is more melodic while the everything is a little dark and foreboding. Even Klaus sings it with a little doom & gloom until his more sunny-vibed chorus. Jabs does lay down a great solo amongst the Meine screams. Still not a huge favorite of mine though.

SIDE 2:

Side 2 kicks off like Side 1 did with pure sleazy, sexualized rock and roll. “Lust of Love” is pretty mindless fun with a great, driving beat and a chorus that lingers long after its gone and you find yourself singing it around the house and your wife looks at you with a suspiciously strange evil eye. It is a rousing metal anthem…well pretty close. I do like it though.

And the next rack is the song with Francis’ first co-writing credit. “Kicks After Six” is more of the same, enticingly good time rock & roll. I have to admit, I like the raucous, sleazy, dirty little rockers. The are fun, joyful and put a little bounce in my step. This one opens with a really cool riff that I think makes the song. Rarebell pounds away the driving beat and the song kicks some major ass for me. Oh, and the solo…don’t forget the solo. Crank it baby!!

“Hit Between the Eyes” keeps the party going with some almost speed metal riffs and what I believe is a killer dual guitar solo between Mathias and Rudolf…love it! Klaus is brutal as he attacks the verses with a feistiness we haven’t seen yet on this album. Probably the heaviest track here and what a 1-2-3 punch we get on this side. A total rocking good time.

Then we get to a different tone on the album and first up is “Money And Fame”. It harkens back to an older Scorps sound, but I’m not really feeling this one. You’d think I like the gloomy feel to it. The talkbox, by Jabs, has been played to death by most bands at this time. The song drags on for me and doesn’t feel like it gets where it is trying to go.

The title track, “Crazy World”, is up next and it does pick up the pace and has a little more rocking feel to it. The “ooohs” by Klaus are a nice touch especially accompanied by some cool riffing. This is a different track from the rest of the album. A little more sophisticated from the sleazy tracks and I kinda dig it. A nice change of pace and a pretty deep cut that maybe should’ve been placed earlier in the set. Who knows.

And finally we get to end and as usual, Scorpions end with a ballad and I think it is one of their best ballads ever. “Send Me An Angel” sees Klaus give his best vocal performance as he conveys both a melancholy vibe yet there is still a shimmering light of hope. The keyboards add to the sadness and they are handled by Jim Vallance who actually co-wrote 7 of the tracks on here as well. You know Jim from his work with Bryan Adams. There is a desperation to the lyrics as he feels so lost but the hope that an angel will come and make everything better. A really beautiful track and one I never tire of hearing. They outdid themselves with this one in my book.

Track Listing:

  1. Tease Me Please Me – Keeper
  2. Don’t Believe Her – Keeper (1/2 Point)
  3. To Be With You In Heaven – Keeper
  4. Wind of Change – Keeper
  5. Restless Nights – Keeper (1/2 Point)
  6. Lust or Love – Keeper
  7. Kicks After Six – Keeper
  8. Hit Between the Eyes – Keeper
  9. Money And Fame – Delete 
  10. Crazy World – Keeper
  11. Send Me An Angel – Keeper

The Track Score is 9 out of 11 Tracks or 82%. I like this one and the fact they didn’t over produce this one like ‘Savage Amusement’.  The sleazy songs were so much fun and sometimes you just need down & dirty.  The more sophisticated tracks like “Winds of Change”, “Crazy World” and “Send Me An Angel” also were a nice dichotomy to the album.  You got some slick and some sick…that is what you need sometimes.  It was good to bring Keith Olsen in to produce as the guys needed to shake things up a bit.  My Overall Score is a 4.0 out of 5.0 Stars as this is their last great album for some time to come…at least in my book.

NEXT UP: CRAZY WORLD – 4 TRACKS FROM CRAZY WORLD – PROMO VINYL (1990)

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

Scorpions – ‘Best of Rockers ‘N’ Ballads’ (1989) – Album Review (The Scorpions Collection Series)

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.

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Scorpions – “Rhythm of Love” (1988) – Singles Box Set (The Scorpions Collection Series)

While at a record show here in Charlotte, one of the vendors had a Special Edition single of the Scorpions song “Rhythm of Love”. The single was a UK edition and it was a box set. On the cover it says it is a Special Boxed Set including record & Five Full Colour Cards. You know it isn’t a US release because color is spelled as “Colour”. The set was released in 1988 and I will say that my box is a little beat up and not in the greatest shape, but everything is there and I think it is still pretty cool.

As I said above, the set came with 5 full color pictures and what is cool is that they are double sided. On one side, you get a picture of each band member, up close and personal…

And then on the other side, you get the album pictures of their last 5 albums…

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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.

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