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!!
Really! Another greatest hits album. Why? Well, the labels want money as this is a cash grab, but it does have some good points. The album was released on May 28, 2002 on Hip-O Records and contains 18 classic songs from the band. Scorpions – ‘Bad for Good: The Very Best of Scorpions’ does offer something a little different than some of their other compilation albums. First, you get 3 tracks that are single edits and not straight album tracks. Second, you get two brand new Scorpions songs!! That right there is the reason to buy this one.
Now, that doesn’t mean there aren’t problems with this release and for that problem is glaring. Again, we get a greatest hits compilation that completely ignores any album prior to 1979’s ‘Lovedrive’. Why do they keep leaving off all those good songs? Is it that the band, or the label, don’t own the rights to those songs? Whatever is the reason, it is an absolute shame that the public doesn’t get to hear those great songs from the 70’s up against these smash hits. Being a single disc release, I see that there is no room and I do get the label wants the biggest hits…but biggest doesn’t mean the best.
The album is in chronological order…wait…not quite. They start it off with “Rock You Like A Hurricane” because that is like their biggest, most notable hit. After that, the rest are in chronological order. Not sure the point of that and seems quite silly in my book. I am not sure how much input Klaus Meine, Rudolf Schenker or Mathias Jabs had, but at least they might have had a say in the two new songs, but that might be it. There is a nice multiple page write up in the liner notes about the band by Gerri Miller from Metal Edge magazine and she talks about 3 decades of the band, but the compilation doesn’t give us songs that cover the whole period…but I’ve said that already. Enough bitching, let’s get to the songs.
Every band needs a signature song and Scorpions did that on their 9th album with the song “Rock You Like a Hurricane”. It only went to #25 on the Top 40 chart, but it has lived on and given the band one of the quintessential 80’s rock songs ever made. There is no one that doesn’t know this song the second that opening riff kicks in. It is a rock anthem like very few achieve. For ever how many songs the album sold, most were sold because of this track. With heavy riffs, killer solos and one of the most catchiest choruses ever, this song took the band to a level they probably never thought they would see.
The Scorpions were in a mood to keep doing things their own way and after doing an album and touring the classically orchestrated Scorpions rock, they decided to strip it all back and do some shows acoustically. The band performed 3 shows at the Convento do Beato in Lisbon, Portugal in February 2001 and those shows were recorded. From those 3 shows, the album called “Acoustica” was made. The album was released a few months later on May 14, 2001.
The show was a little unusual for the band as it was just the normal guys. Yes, Klaus Meine, Rudolf Schenker, Mathias Jabs, Ralph Rieckermann and James Kottak performed, but they weren’t alone. The actually had three guitarists and the third was Johan Daansen which really fills the songs up with that acoustic guitar sound. On keyboards was Christian Kolonovitis who also helped the band arrange the songs for the acoustic set. Christian was also the one who was the conductor and arranged the Scorpions songs for the Moment of Glory Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra album the prior year. James might have been on drums, but they also had a percussionist by the name of Mario Argandona. And to fill up the stage even more, there was a cellist, Ariana Acu and a group of female vocalists to help with backing vocals. They were Hille Bemelmanns, Liv Van Aelst and Kristel Van Craen. They really went all out to bring a different experience and I would say it worked pretty well.
The band also were great in giving us a few things extra on this release. We got the biggest hits, no doubt, but that wasn’t all. We actually were treated to 3 brand new songs (four if you got the DVD). And on top of that, we got a handful of great covers from The Cars, Kansas and Queen. With all that, it made this a very worthwhile purchase to get all the songs we hadn’t heard before. But was it all worth it? Let’s see.
The set opens with “The Zoo” and it has this cool groove which is almost like ‘Black Velvet” by Alannah Myles. Then we get the ballad “Always Somewhere” and the crowd claps along and at times sings along, there are female backing vocals and Klaus sounds stellar. Ballads usually work well in the acoustic setting and this one is no different. After this one we get the first of three new songs. First one up is “Life is Too Short” and this one brings some string orchestration. It is another ballad but it really shows the maturity of the band. I would really love to hear a studio version as this is really a great song. The chorus is really catchy which helps draw you in and as the song builds it just keeps getting better.
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.