Scorpions did something a lot of bands were doing and that was recording a live album using an orchestra. Metal and classical music go together as metal’s influences are heavily drawn from classical music. However, it doesn’t mean it should be done with every band. They were accused of copying Metallica who had released ‘S&M’ a year earlier. However, it actually had been discussed to do back in 1995 when the Berlin Philharmonic originally approached Scorpions to do such a show. Originally they had approached Michael Kamen, but he gave up on the job so he could actually go work Metallica on their album. They eventually found a composer by the name of Christian Kolonovits and along with the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra, the album was completed.
It was recorded during January, March and April 2000 and was finally released on August 8, 2000. The album features only 10 tracks that consist of re-worked songs integrated with an orchestra and some really cool interludes from classical pieces. The album went to #3 in Germany and it did go Gold, but did nothing in the U.S. as I don’t think I heard about this until years later, but I was checked out on the band at this time any way. During the Hanover EXPO in June of 2000, they performed the show live and it was recorded for a DVD and was released in December 2000. During 2021, the band took it on the road and did 7 shows in Russia and other Baltic countries.
The show kicks off with a complete rearrangement of “Rock You Like a Hurricane” called “Hurricane 2000”. You get a grand opening that all the orchestra and it feels like the opening to a movie or maybe even a Bugs Bunny cartoon. The band joins in and you get that classic Hurricane riff re-imagined with an orchestra and a lot of extra notes thrown in. The overall tempo is slowed down as Klaus seems to slowly sing the lyrics instead of the rapid fire approach in the original. They added some women’s backing vocals towards the end of the song which totally strips the balls off the song. It isn’t bad, but it isn’t the Hurricane we all grew up with either. It does kick off the show with a bang though even if a little muted.
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.
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.
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.
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.