Scorpions – ‘Big City Nights’ (1998) – Album Review (The Scorpions Collection Series)

Scorpions is no stranger to releasing compilation albums. In fact, there are 28 official greatest hits compilations over their career. That is insane. Out of those 28, some are worth getting, like ‘Deadly Sting’ or ‘Best of Rockers ‘n Ballads’ and some are not…like this one!! This is a complete money grab except it was released at a time where Scorpions weren’t getting much publicity so I am sure this was overlooked by everyone. There are no unreleased tracks, no single mixes, no nothing excited that would make this worth getting. So why do I have it? I found it in a bin for like $2 so why not. It isn’t worth anymore than that, I promise!

It was released on July 11, 1998 on Rebound Records & Universal Music Distribution. There is one interesting thing about it, some copies have the song “No One Like You (Live)” was weirdly replaced with the studio version, but still listed it as “Live” on the track listing. My copy is the boring old version with the actual live version. And that is it, nothing else interesting about this release. So, I will at least go through the songs and give my input on them.

“Big City Nights” is up first and it is off the album ‘Love at First Sting’ and was the third single off the album. This one leans more to the 80’s pop rock, very radio friendly and although a rocker, a little calmer. Yet, it is very effective with its cool riff, contagious chorus and of course, that great Klaus vocal. What is there not to like.

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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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