The Scorpions have really had a new life since their farewell tour. With a new album, ‘Comeblack’ which had them re-record old hits and some covers, the band was having a good time again. So, when MTV approached them about doing an MTV Unplugged, they jumped at the chance. They put a lot of work in to re-arranging the songs for an acoustic setting as you can tell from the “Making of Documentary” on the DVD on this release. The band actually didn’t really wanted to play their hits, but dig deep. With pushback coming from either the label or MTV (I forget which), they agreed to do some of their hits, but they also went deep and even brought in some new songs specifically for this set. The setlist is one of the highlights as we get old school Scorpions, 80’s heyday and even songs from today. It spans their career in what a good setlist should do.
The recorded 25 songs and performed at MTV’s first outdoor unplugged show and they couldn’t have chosen a more beautiful spot than high a top a mountain at the Lycabettus Theatre in Athens , Greece. It was recorded over 2 nights on September 11 and 12, 2013. The release came quick on November 29, 2013 and I think the U.S. got it later. Let’s get out the one bad thing about the US version. The US Version is only 1 CVD and not a full show. The DVD that comes with it has the full show, but the CD does not. I am not sure why the rest of the world had a 2 CD full show option and we didn’t, but it is what it is. So, I am reviewing the DVD, full show set.
The full band is there and front and center are Klaus Meine, Rudolf Schenker and Mathais Jabs. The other two guys are slightly behind them with James Kottak on drums and Pawel Maciwoda on bass. But they weren’t alone, wow! There is a lot of extra help on the stage including a string ensemble, an extra percussionist with Pitti Hecht and then Mikael Nord Andersson, Ola Hjelm, Ingo Powitzer and Martin Hansen all on guitar (plus Mathias & Rudolf). And that wasn’t all, you also got Hans Gardemar on piano and accordion plus several surprise guest vocalists. It is a full house and one hell of a party.
Following their Farewell tour for the ‘Sting of the Tail’ album, the band decided to release one more album as sort of a comeback, but not. In all the reviews I read on this one, all the reviewers listed as the band’s final album. So, how can it be a comeback if it is the final. That might lie in the name of the album because it is called ‘Comeblack”. So a comeback album but the end at the same time…I don’t know. I’m confused. The band wasn’t confused. The excitement they felt after that tour and all the screaming fans, the success of ‘Sting of the Tail’, all led to the band wanting to do one more and do it for the fans. But as a fan, I don’t remember asking for this.
That wasn’t the only confusing thing about this album. It is sort of a compilation album with 7 songs that are Scorpions classics, but re-recorded and the final 5 songs are cover tunes. No new material here at all. The band wanted to re-record some classics giving them a modern sound with the new production capabilities and they did just that. The cover song choices are a celebration of some of their favorite songs/artists from the 60’s and I will say, they all have that Scorpions sound. But let’s be honest, this is a complete and utter waste of time and energy.
The album was released on November 4, 2011 and in the U.S on January 24, 2012 where the album only sold 5,000 physical copies in its first week and reached #90 on the Billboard 200 chart. Not very impressive. Klaus Meine, Rudolf Schenker, Mathias Jabs, James Kottak and Pawel Maciwoda all returned for this mess…or was it really that bad. I know the album cover was pretty decent which is not something that is normally the case. My copy is a gatefold, 2LP version and the packaging looks fantastic, but it is what is on the inside that matters
‘Sting in the Tail’ is Scorpions 17th Studio album. Dang! Not many artist can say they’ve done that many albums. The band was still the usual crew of late with Klaus Meine, Rudolf Schenker, Mathis Jabs, James Kottak and Pawel Maciwoda. They had some new producers this time around with Mikael Nord Andersson and Martin Hansen. They hit the studio in May 2009 and wrapped things up in December 2009. They started with 18 songs and narrowed it down the 12 you see here. Out of the original 18, 5 were actually from their ‘Unbreakable’ Session from a couple albums earlier. Since last album was a concept album, they didn’t fit on that one, but they re-worked them and they ended up on this one. The rest were written strictly for this album. And no covers!!
The album was finally released on March 14, 2010 and it landed at #23 in the U.S. and #2 in their home country of Germany. It saw the band go back to their 80’s sound, but with a modern twist on it so it sounds fresh and not dated. I would say they succeeded with that. At this point, this was suppose to be their last album as they announced their retirement and were doing a farewell tour, I guess you could say. Well, we all know how that turned out as they are still going strong today in 2023.
The biggest problem with this album is that there is too much ROCK! No, No!! Not the music…but the word “ROCK”. That word is in four different song titles on the album. 1/3 of the album. That is a little nuts. To make matters worse, if you look at the back cover, the letters in red spell out “It Rocks”. We get it, we get it…Scorpions rock so you have to use the word rock so people know you are rock & roll…rock, rock, rock…ugh!! Outside of that, there isn’t anything wrong with this record…well, not much anyway. So, let us get to it, shall we.
For their 16th Studio album, Scorpions wanted to shake things up a bit. But before they could do that they needed to get a producer and that seemed like a daunting task. They had hoped to work with Dieter Dierks yet again, but that didn’t work out yet again due to contract issues. They brought a ton of producers to Germany to interview including Roy Thomas Baker, but the band wasn’t exactly pleased with those results. In the end they settled on two producers. They chose James Michael (lead singer of the band Sixx A.M.) and famed songwriter/producer Desmond Child. They each had their own specific expertise that was utilized on the production. James worked on the guitars, drums and bass while Desmond concentrated on the vocals.
So, Rudolf Schenker, Mathias Jabs, Pawel Maciwoda and James Kottak were in one studio with James while Klaus Meine was in another with Desmond. Desmond believes that if a singers vocals are in great shape, you will get a great performance so Desmond had Klaus basically take vocal lessons every day for an hour before they recorded the vocals. They brought in vocal coach to help Klaus warm up his vocals each and every day. The album is full of songwriters from outside the band as well, but the band still is on every song. You get Eric Bazilian (Hooters), Marty Frederiksen, Jason Paige, Russ Irwin, James Michael, Desmond Child and there are even more.
The band started recording in October 2006 and had about 30 songs and by the second recording process they had another 20 songs. The album was going to be a concept album that was developed by Desmond Child and futurist Liam Carl. It was based on a civil war between humans and robot, it is very apocalyptic in nature and at times very dark. Which is why a number of songs were thrown out because they were too dark. The album needed some more upbeat style songs and those were added, but they were all based around this concept and all tied together because the songs were about humanity. The album was called ‘Humanity: Hour 1′ and was released on May 14, 2007 in Europe and August 28, 2007 in the U.S. We were introduced to a very modern sounding Scorpions album, but at the same time, it still sounded like the Scorpions. All I know is that when I heard this album, I was back on board the Scorpions’ train and been riding it since. Sit back and get ready for the best Scorpions album in decades!!
A woman robot welcomes us to Humanity: Hour 1 as “Hour 1” is the start of the war. The earth-shattering drum beats, the Sabbathy guitar riffs and then Klaus comes in and sounds amazing as he introduces the reasons behind our downfall and that humans tried to play God with their machines causing all the problems we are now facing. It is a heavy, intense and rocking opening track. Very modern and very brutal and a solo that will rip your face off as the battle rages on. A killer opening track and one of their most aggressive tracks…ever!! And what is even cooler about this one is that the guest guitarist is none other than the mighty John 5.
We are now on to the 15th Studio album from the Scorpions called ‘Unbreakable’. It had been 5 years since their last studio album, ‘Eye II Eye’, which was not a success. The band had some success with their live albums ‘Moment of Glory’ and ‘Acoustica’ and after some touring, the guys were ready to go at it again. They went to the studio in late March or early April and recorded 16 demos. Not a bad start…but…they scrapped every single one and started over. They tried again in June 2003 and nothing much from that one either. Finally after another short tour, they went back in to the studio a third time in September 2003 and did another 20 songs and finally they felt they could pull an album from those tracks.
They shopped for a producer and they had a number of people on the list that they sent the demos to in hopes of hiring a producer. They wooed Bob Rock, Max Martin, Rick Parasher, Erwin Musper and even old time producer Dieter Dierks. In the end they ended up using Erwin Musper and he did a pretty good job. But that wasn’t all they were shopping for as they also needed a bass player. The courted Jeff Pilson (Dokken) and Jimmy Bain (Rainbow/Dio), but they wound up with Paweł Mąciwoda who was able to play on about 10 of the 13 tracks.
After recording from October 2003 to January 2004, the album was finally complete. It saw the light of day on May 3, 2004 and I have to say after the last two albums were a departure from what we expect from Scorpions, this one brought the band back to form. They brought back the heavy riffs, the great bombastic choruses and even modernized it all a little. This is the album that reminded me that Scorpions still had the goods to deliver what the fans like best. Solid guitar rock. I think a lot of what I like about this one is due to the fact of there was so much I didn’t like about the last two. This probably elevates this one a little as a result, but still so much goodness.
It all starts with the killer opening track “New Generation” which starts out with a slow build that keeps getting grander as you go and then the song really kicks in slamming it home. The hypnotic guitar riff is stellar and the song sounds so modern yet so like classic Scorpions at the same time. A brilliant track that reminds a lot of the opening tracks from a lot of bands in the 80’s as it has that grand feel and runs close to 6 minutes. Love it!!