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
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.
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.
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.
In my digging at a record show, I found a bunch of cool European releases from Scorpions. Most were German releases, but there was this one UK Only Release. It was an Advance DJ Copy of the album ‘Crazy World’. It was on vinyl and only had 4 tracks, but it was released prior to the album’s release. It is a pretty simple with only a flimsy cardboard sleeve that was the album jacket and album sleeve. The cover was black with a giant Scorpion on it and had the famous words at the bottom “For Promotional Use Only…Not For Resale”. Well, somebody sold it because I paid money for it.
It is short and sweet with 4 tracks, 2 on one side and 2 on the other. All four tracks are straight off the album, not any remixes nor single edits so nothing special, but I liked it enough to buy it as I like promos as you will see because the next four posts, including this one, are all on promos I have from the album ‘Crazy World’. Sorry about that, but this is the Scorpions Collection Series I believe and they are in my collection.
Just like thee album, the promo opens with, “Tease Me Please Me”, which is a sleazy little track that seems part Motley Crue, part everything else at the time and that is okay. The song is a rocker that doesn’t take a lot of thought, but it still kicks ass. A fun opening track with a cool riff, some nasty guitar work, Klaus’ gritty vocals and overall catchy as hell. It is straight up down and dirty rock & roll. Yes, please…sign me up. The song was written by Klaus Meine, Mathias Jabs, Herman Rarebell and Jim Vallance. It did go to #8 on the US Hot Mainstream Rock Track Chart.
The band’s eleventh studio was recorded in 1990 and was the first album in year (maybe decades) to not include Dieter Dierks as producer. Instead, they went with Keith Olsen and went back to a less polished sound which helped see the album go to #21 in the U.S. upon its release on November 6, 1990. It is also the last album to be certified 2X Platinum in the States. It is also known as the band’s first #1 album in their home country of Germany which I find insane it took that long.
The band is still in tact with Klaus Meine, Rudolf Schenker, Mathias Jabs, Francis Buchholz and Herman Rarebell. Little did we know though that this would be the last album to feature longtime bassist, Francis Buchholz. But before he leaves, he actually gets his first songwriting credit with the song “Kicks After Six” which we will talk about soon enough. This album saw the band have a more mature tone in some of their songwriting, but don’t worry there is still the whole sleazy piece of rock as well. The best of both worlds.
The album opens with, “Tease Me Please Me”, which is a sleazy little track that seems part Motley Crue, part everything else at the time and that is okay. The song is a rocker that doesn’t take a lot of thought, but it still kicks ass. A fun opening track with a cool riff, some nasty guitar work, Klaus’ gritty vocals and overall catchy as hell. It is straight up down and dirty rock & roll. Yes, please…sign me up.
“Don’t Believe Her” is up next and it is proof that the Scorpions were now an American rock band as the sound is like every other band rocking out in the U.S. at the time. I really like the opening guitar work and then it goes very Ratt-like with the tone. The only thing missing was Pearcy’s rough vocals. Instead we get much better with Klaus. The song isn’t something to write home about, but it is still a fun, upbeat song although chorus is pretty weak.
Then it is more radio-fodder with “To Be With You In Heaven”. I thought it was going to be a ballad, but it is too upbeat and too much a rocker to be one, but it doesn’t miss by much. Rarebell has a slamming drumming beat as the base to the song. The song does have those romantic lyrics you’d expect in a ballad and Klaus delivers them flawlessly, but still not a ballad with that dual guitar work from Jabs and Schenker.
The next track was the first ballad and it is the band’s mega-hit “Wind of Change”. The song was written by Klaus Meine and was inspired by the band’s trip to the Moscow Peace Festival in 1989. The song is about the change that was brewing in the Soviet Union and in Berlin. When the Wall fell and the Soviet Union was no more, the song was a unifying song for everyone. The whistling in the song was by Klaus, Mathias was playing the rhythm guitar and Schenker handled the solo. A slow ballad that seem to strike a chord with everyone as it went to #1 in 9 countries and #4 in the U.S. It was certified Silver, Gold or Platinum in 9 countries as well. To say this was a worldwide phenomenon would be understatement. And the YouTube video is closing in on almost 1 Billion views…impressive.
The band ends Side 1 with “Restless Nights” which is very bluesy and almost a doom like vibe to the whole thing. The chorus picks up and is more melodic while the everything is a little dark and foreboding. Even Klaus sings it with a little doom & gloom until his more sunny-vibed chorus. Jabs does lay down a great solo amongst the Meine screams. Still not a huge favorite of mine though.
Side 2 kicks off like Side 1 did with pure sleazy, sexualized rock and roll. “Lust of Love” is pretty mindless fun with a great, driving beat and a chorus that lingers long after its gone and you find yourself singing it around the house and your wife looks at you with a suspiciously strange evil eye. It is a rousing metal anthem…well pretty close. I do like it though.
And the next rack is the song with Francis’ first co-writing credit. “Kicks After Six” is more of the same, enticingly good time rock & roll. I have to admit, I like the raucous, sleazy, dirty little rockers. The are fun, joyful and put a little bounce in my step. This one opens with a really cool riff that I think makes the song. Rarebell pounds away the driving beat and the song kicks some major ass for me. Oh, and the solo…don’t forget the solo. Crank it baby!!
“Hit Between the Eyes” keeps the party going with some almost speed metal riffs and what I believe is a killer dual guitar solo between Mathias and Rudolf…love it! Klaus is brutal as he attacks the verses with a feistiness we haven’t seen yet on this album. Probably the heaviest track here and what a 1-2-3 punch we get on this side. A total rocking good time.
Then we get to a different tone on the album and first up is “Money And Fame”. It harkens back to an older Scorps sound, but I’m not really feeling this one. You’d think I like the gloomy feel to it. The talkbox, by Jabs, has been played to death by most bands at this time. The song drags on for me and doesn’t feel like it gets where it is trying to go.
The title track, “Crazy World”, is up next and it does pick up the pace and has a little more rocking feel to it. The “ooohs” by Klaus are a nice touch especially accompanied by some cool riffing. This is a different track from the rest of the album. A little more sophisticated from the sleazy tracks and I kinda dig it. A nice change of pace and a pretty deep cut that maybe should’ve been placed earlier in the set. Who knows.
And finally we get to end and as usual, Scorpions end with a ballad and I think it is one of their best ballads ever. “Send Me An Angel” sees Klaus give his best vocal performance as he conveys both a melancholy vibe yet there is still a shimmering light of hope. The keyboards add to the sadness and they are handled by Jim Vallance who actually co-wrote 7 of the tracks on here as well. You know Jim from his work with Bryan Adams. There is a desperation to the lyrics as he feels so lost but the hope that an angel will come and make everything better. A really beautiful track and one I never tire of hearing. They outdid themselves with this one in my book.
Tease Me Please Me – Keeper
Don’t Believe Her – Keeper(1/2 Point)
To Be With You In Heaven – Keeper
Wind of Change – Keeper
Restless Nights – Keeper(1/2 Point)
Lust or Love – Keeper
Kicks After Six – Keeper
Hit Between the Eyes – Keeper
Money And Fame – Delete
Crazy World – Keeper
Send Me An Angel – Keeper
The Track Score is 9 out of 11 Tracks or 82%. I like this one and the fact they didn’t over produce this one like ‘Savage Amusement’. The sleazy songs were so much fun and sometimes you just need down & dirty. The more sophisticated tracks like “Winds of Change”, “Crazy World” and “Send Me An Angel” also were a nice dichotomy to the album. You got some slick and some sick…that is what you need sometimes. It was good to bring Keith Olsen in to produce as the guys needed to shake things up a bit. My Overall Score is a 4.0 out of 5.0 Stars as this is their last great album for some time to come…at least in my book.
NEXT UP: CRAZY WORLD – 4 TRACKS FROM CRAZY WORLD – PROMO VINYL (1990)