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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Scorpions – ‘World Wide Live (1985) – Album Review (The Scorpions Collection Series)

With the massive success of ‘Love at First Sting’, Scorpions were riding high. So the label felt it was time for another live album as it had been 7 years since the last one. During the ‘Love at First Sting Tour’, numerous shows were recorded and a double live album was pieced together. The shows were as follows:

  • Bercy, Paris, France (1984-02-29)
  • The Forum, Los Angeles, CA, USA (1984-04-24 & 1984-04-25)
  • Sports Arena, San Diego, CA, USA (1984-04-26)
  • Pacific Amphitheatre, Costa Mesa, CA, USA (1984-04-28)
  • Sporthalle, Cologne, West Germany (1984-11-17)

The album was released on June 20, 1985 and went all the way to #17 on the US Billboard 200 Chart and sold over 1,000,000 copies giving it platinum status. The band could do no wrong. The classic line-up was in place with Klaus Meine, Rudolf Schenker, Matthias Jabs, Francis Buchholz and Herman Rarebell. And of course, the album was produced by long time Scorps producer Dieter Dierks.

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Scorpions – ‘Gold Ballads’ (1984) – Album Review (The Scorpions Collection Series)

In the U.S., the label was capitalizing on the Scorpions success by releasing a compilation, so why not the European labels. 1984 was a big year for the Scorpions so lets milk it for what we can was the attitude of the day!. With the massive success of their ballad “Still Loving You”, why not release an E.P. of their best ballads and pick those from four of their best albums, ‘Lovedrive, ‘Animal Magnetism’, ‘Blackout’ and ‘Love at First Sting’. And ballads are big sellers, so it made perfect sense.

My copy is the German release…yes, I have a bunch of German releases as I found all of these at one of our local record shows (not stores, but the record shows where there are all the goodies). The album was released on October 13, 1984 with multiple reissues over the next couple years across Europe. This copy I have is from the original release in Germany. It is a 5 song E.P. and let me tell you, it is a great set of ballads. I also love that the cover is probably an outtake photo from the ‘Love at First Sting’ album cover shoot.

Sit back and let us go trough it for you.

SEITE 1:

“Still Loving You”, from ‘Love at First Sting’, is one of my favorite Scorpions ballads and one of my favorite all time as well. About a couple in love that knows it’s over, but try to make it work one more time. The song opens with some gentle, soft riffing and Klaus singing in almost a whisper. Then the power part of the ballad kicks in and the guitar licks are blissfully beautiful and the chorus is gut-wrenchingly heartbreaking and lovely at the same time. I think this might one of Klaus Meine’s best vocal performances on any album.

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Scorpions – ‘Best of Scorpions, Vol. 2’ (1984) – Album Review (The Scorpions Collection Series)

To capitalize on the success that the Scorpions were seeing now with ‘Blackout’ and ‘Love at First Sting’, the label decided it was time for a ‘Best of Scorpions, Vol. 2’. The new compilation, a companion piece to Vol. 1, was released on July 10, 1984. It didn’t do that great as it only went to #175 on the Billboard 200 albums chart. But still not a bad idea to try and reap some rewards off a band riding high.

It followed the same concept as Vol. 1 by picking songs only from the Uli Jon Roth era. This means it is only songs from ‘Fly to the Rainbow’, ‘In Trance’, ‘Virgin Killer’ and ‘Tokyo Tapes. For some reason, no songs were picked from ‘Taken By Force’. like on Vol. 1…which didn’t have any ‘Tokyo Tapes’ songs. Being Volume 2, these are the next level tier of songs so instantly makes this set a little less in goodness. There is one repeat, but Vol. 2 has a live version rather than a studio…we will get to that.

SIDE A:

“Top of the Bill”, from ‘In Trance’, is basically same as a song on their newest album “Gas in the Tank”. Okay, not really, but not far off. Klaus’ vocals are ear splitting high at times as his shrieks rip through your head. It is a solid rocker that is both explosive and melodic. It is balls-to-the wall energy and I love the vocal harmonies as they add even more to the dynamic track.

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Scorpions – “Still Loving You” (1984) – Maxi Single 45 RPM (The Scorpions Collection Series)

Flying high from the release of their 9th Studio album, the band released their second single “Still Loving You” on July 3, 1984. The song went to #64 on the US Billboard Hot 100 Charts, but it didn’t chart in Germany. The Maxi Single I found for “Still Loving You” was a German only release and it was released to promote their German tour which ran from October 26th until December 3rd of 1984 as the dates of the tour are on the bottom of the back cover.

Side 1 was only the single “Still Loving You” from their latest album ‘Love at First Sting’. Side 2 was the song “No One Like You” from 1982’s ‘Blackout’ and “Always Somewhere” from their 1979 album ‘Lovedrive’. A good way to promote the back catalog. The songs are studio tracks and not remixes, but that’s okay because it is still a cool piece for me to have in the collection especially since was, as I said earlier, a German only release.

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Scorpions – ‘Love at First Sting’ (1984) – Album Review (The Scorpions Collection Series)

The band started recording their 9th studio album in Stommein, West Germany which is where producer, Dieter Dierks, studio was located. The album was recorded in 1983 and 1984 and finally saw its release on March 27, 1984. The line-up was intact with Klause Meine, Rudolf Schenker, Mathias Jabs, Francis Buchholz and Herman Rarebell.

However, some of the early recordings that took place were actually in Sweden and had former Rainbow members, Jimmy Bain on bass and Bobby Rondinell on drums. Jimmy Bain’s name was brought up by Herman and then later Herman got sick and Bobby stepped in. The band then left Sweden and did a two week tour in the States with the normal members of the band. After the tour it was determined that everyone felt great and they headed to Germany to record with the original members.

The album became Scorpions biggest selling album of all time going triple platinum with well over 3,000,000 copies sold in the U.S. alone. Thanks in large part to MTV and the smash song “Rock You Like a Hurricane” which is a staple at sporting events and a song I think everyone in the world knows. The album went to #6 on the Billboard 200 album chart, but it was really the constant rotation on MTV that got the U.S.’s attention. I know it got mine. They played all their videos and even the ones from Blackout which made a lot of people run out and get that album as well. “Love at First Sting” was the band’s pinnacle album. The smooth, high glossed rock was so well polished it gave off a platinum sheen. And in fact, it was one of the first fully digital metal albums ever made. They have reached the top…or had they?

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Scorpions – ‘Hot & Heavy’ (1982) – Album Review (The Scorpions Collection Series)

With the album ‘Blackout’, the Scorpions were starting to break big and it looks like the record company wanted to promote more of the band’s 70’s material, especially with Uli Jon Roth. This is the band’s second compilation and like the first one, only features songs with Uli. Released on May 4, 1982, ‘Hot & Heavy’ is released under the RCA banner of “Takeoff” series. The album, as the title suggests, features the heavier songs by the band and even has 3 Uli sung songs. The songs cover the years 1974-1977.

Admittedly, this is not really necessary as a release, but it is a good showcase of the band’s more rocking material. Sadly, there are 6 repeats on this compilation that are on the ‘Best of Scorpions’ released a few years back. My version is the German release of the album and the back cover has a brief history of the band in both German and English. The back cover also highlights a few other albums under the “Takeoff” series umbrella.

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Scorpions – ‘Blackout’ (1982) – Album Review (The Scorpions Collection Series)

Shortly after the release of their previous album, ‘Animal Magnetism’, Klaus Meine started having vocal issues. It got so bad he had to have surgery on his vocal cords which left a lot of doubt if he was going to heal and be able to continue as lead singer of the band. Scorpions started working on this next album and brought in singer Don Dokken to do the guide vocals on the demos. None of Don’s demoes made the album, naturally, but one can hope they get released one day (if they’ve survived). Luckily for the band, Klaus’ vocal cords healed up nicely and he had no problem completing the album. The album would see its release on March 29, 1982 and would go all the way to #10 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart in the U.S. going platinum with over 1,000,000 records sold.

The band’s line-up ended up unchanged thanks to Klaus’ recovery. It was still Klaus Meine, Rudolf Schenker, Mathias Jabs, Francis Buchholz and Herman Rarebell. Don Dokken is credited with background vocals as they did leave some of his work in tact. Producer was still Dieter Dierks and with all the same cast of characters, the band was really starting to find their way. They were gelling and put together one of the Top 100 Greatest Metal albums of all time according to Rolling Stones Magazine in 2017. I don’t know if I agree or disagree with that, but I do know it is one hell of a great album.

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