Scorpions - Topic

Unbreakable Play

The Scorpions' latest studio outing comes on the heels of their triple-disc career retrospective, Box of Scorpions. For fans who view that box set's third disc -- mostly material from the mid- to late '90s -- as a meandering collection of wince-inducing ballads and orchestral experiments gone awry, their latest offering should come as a huge relief. Their celebrated talents for big licks, bigger choruses, and simple lyrics about world unification and "rocking you" are remarkably well executed on Unbreakable, their 20th studio album. The production strikes a winning balance between mid-'80s excess and tight nu-metal guitar, resulting in one of the heavier records they've done in quite some time. Singer Klaus Meine's voice has aged gracefully, retaining the raucous snarl that fueled hits like "No One Like You," while attaining a rich, fully rounded cadence on the beautiful new ballad "Maybe I Maybe You." Unbreakable was recorded live in the studio, and it shows on the brutal standouts "Love 'Em or Leave 'Em" and "Borderline" -- the latter being one of the more inventive and memorable of their career. The record acts as a bridge between hard rock generations, and is perhaps the first step in handing over their legacy to the myriad of young bands that have basked in the veteran group's light for so long, but if they continue to make records as lively and skilled as this, that transfer could be a long time coming. ~ James Christopher Monger, Rovi

Humanity: Hour 1 Play

On their studio first outing in three years, Germany's seemingly eternal Scorpions keep the sound a perfect balance between nu metal guitar crunch and '80s heavy metal melodies. Humanity Hour, Vol. 1 is a worthy if not utterly successful musical follow-up to 2004's Unbreakable -- a record that saw the band coming back to its strengths after a long bout of wandering about in the creative desert. Humanity Hour, Vol. 1 is a collaboration between the band and co-producers James Michael and Desmond Child. What's more, there are a number of special guest appearances, such as Eric Bazilian playing guitar on the track "Love Will Keep Us Alive," and Billy Corgan making a vocal appearance on "The Cross." Musically, while all the Scorpions' strong points are in evidence here, some of their conceits are as well -- they were absent on Unbreakable. Not recorded live in the studio, there are some orchestral spots on some of these cuts, but at least they don't result in the aimless and pretentious experimentation that marred many of the band's records in the late '90s and early 2000s. The title track opens the set with a bombast of drums and true Euro-metal guitars in full-on riff mode. Klaus Meine's vocals are still up to snuff so he has no trouble getting inside the big riffs. The sheer power of the guitars and thudding kick drums and tom-toms is a little offputting; it feels like an outtake from Unbreakable -- this is a good thing -- and gets things off to a roaring start.
Both "The Game of Life" and "We Were Born to Fly" are more reminiscent of the band at the height of its '80s power. Extremely hooky with big compressed guitars, they're loud and hummable with melodies most bands of that era would have given their eyeteeth for. The taut line between pop excess and heavy metal power drive is walked with relative ease, and the choruses in both songs are truly transcendent. "The Future Never Dies," with its acoustic piano and long drawn-out melody is a power ballad that goes nowhere, unfortunately. But the big crunch returns on "You're Lovin' Me to Death," which is full of dual lead guitar lines by Matthias Jabs and Rudolf Schenker. "321" is full-on Euro-metal without a real hook, but it's so huge it hardly matters. It feels more like a slow Iron Maiden track than it does the Scorpions until you get to the refrain, of course, then it's got the foot-stomping infectiousness of the band's own material with a touch of Def Leppard thrown in. The middle of the record bogs a bit here, with a number of ballads all tossed together, but the Scorps redeem themselves on the set's final two tracks, "The Cross" (with Corgan) and "Humanity." Out of 14 cuts, ten are utterly solid, one walks the line, and three simply don't cut it. Child is a curious choice as a producer on first listen, but given the sheer singles power of a number of these cuts, it makes perfect sense. This is the disc that deserved an American issue, since radio needs the Scorpions more than the Scorpions need radio at this point. ~ Thom Jurek, Rovi

Savage Amusement Play

The Scorpions' two previous releases, Blackout and Love at First Sting, were mostly successful due to the band's ability to adjust with the times; with Blackout, they used the classic power rock introduced by bands like Van Halen, and for Sting they used similar melodies, but with a harder, tighter sound akin to the work of such bands as Dokken and REO Speedwagon. With Savage Amusement, the group's first studio recording in almost four years, the Scorpions experimented with more polished pop melodies that Def Leppard and the like had made popular. The end result is polished and often predictable music that, while good, on the whole fails to be as infectious as the music on their previous albums. Die-hard fans will certainly find their share of worthwhile songs, such as "Don't Stop at the Top" and "Believe in Love," but they still may find Savage Amusement to be incomparable to its predecessors. ~ Barry Weber, Rovi

Love at First Sting Play

Although the Scorpions had already achieved fame after 1982's Blackout, Love at First Sting brought them their biggest single of the decade, the slick anthem "Rock You Like a Hurricane," with some greatly underrated songs to back it up. The album opens with the hair-raising "Bad Boys Running Wild" and continues with songs such as the memorable "Big City Nights" and the half-ballad, half-powerhouse rocker "Coming Home." The record also contains what just may be the band's best ballad ever, the tear-jerking "Still Loving You." Considering the fact that it has some of their best-ever singles, Love at First Sting is definitely a must for all fans of the Scorpions. ~ Barry Weber, Rovi

Crazy World Play

After the release of Savage Amusement in 1988, the Scorpions expressed disdain toward the album, feeling that it was too polished when compared to their other work. Their longtime producer, Dieter Dierks, was replaced with well-known rock producer Keith Olsen, who would produce Crazy World and assist in making it one of the Scorpions' greatest recordings. Their music had certainly changed since Savage Amusement, sounding a little bit heavier and less glamorous. But even with the metal sound, the songs remain melodic and catchy. The power ballads on the album, "Wind of Change" and "Send Me an Angel," are arguably two of the band's greatest slow numbers, boasting soothing harmony and lyrics. Crazy World remains the Scorpions' finest '90s album and is sure to please its listeners. ~ Barry Weber, Rovi

Rock Galaxy Play

Long out of print in most countries not called Germany, this set simply combines Scorpions' second and third albums, 1974's rather flawed Fly to the Rainbow and 1975's much improved In Trance, into one package. The first clearly shows a band in transition, exorcising their post-hippie psychedelic tendencies even as Hendrix-obsessed new guitarist Uli Jon Roth took over the reigns for a departed Michael Schenker. The second reveals a well-oiled hard rock machine, however. Boasting such classics as "Dark Lady," "Living and Dying," and the awesome title track, it arguably stands as the best all-around effort issued during Roth's tenure. ~ Eduardo Rivadavia, Rovi

Sting in the Tail Play

One does an aural double take upon hearing the opening bars of “Raised on Rock,” the first track from the Scorpions Sting in the Tail. Rudolph Schenker's opening power chord riff and guitar tone sound like something from 1976’s Virgin Killer, or 1979’s Lovedrive. When he’s joined by Matthias Jabs on their trademark twin-guitar attack, and by Klaus Meine's instantly recognizable vocal, the effect is complete, the sound familiar, but somehow not nostalgic. The riff was just a quick, humorous nod to history rather an attempt to revel in it. Sting in the Tail is reported to be the final Scorpions studio effort after 44 years. The band that vaulted to the top of the '80s metal scene with its balance of monstrously loud rock anthems (“The Zoo,” “Blackout”) and infectious power ballads (“Wind of Change,” “Still Loving You”) has decided to give it one last, honest shot at what they do best. There’s more of the former on this offering, from the aforementioned and boogie-metal party rocker that is the title track, to “Slave Me,” “No Limit,” and the amphetamine overdrive of “Rock Zone,” "Spirit of Rock," and “Turn You On” (particularly from the rhythm section of bassist Pavel Maciwoda and drummer James Kottak). Meine’s voice is in great shape; he wails and howls without any sign of wear. Another band trademark, the “gang vocal” chorus, is apparent on all the rockers. The power ballads here, “Loreli” and “Sly,” follow their formula of slowly ramping up with undeniably catchy melody, a meld of near classical form with hard rock dynamics, and multi-layered guitar and vocal textures. The songwriting here is characteristically tight, the arrangements and bridges are sophisticated, the production doesn’t give in to modern clichés, and the band comes off sounding like no one but a renewed version of themselves. As a farewell, Sting in the Tail is an album the Scorpions and their fans can be proud of. ~ Thom Jurek, Rovi

Taken by Force Play

Less brutal than the two previous albums, this one is nonetheless an underappreciated treat. Sure, there are some weak cuts, but there are plenty of strong ones to make up for it. Among the highlights of the disc are the energetic anthem "Steamrock Fever" and the growling song of androgyny "He's a Woman, She's a Man." The highlight of the disc, though, is "We'll Burn the Sky." This one is lyrically quite similar to the Blue Oyster Cult classic "Don't Fear the Reaper," but the music is a wonderfully building anthemic ballad. It is arguably one of the finest songs the Scorpions have ever done. ~ Gary Hill, Rovi

Animal Magnetism Play

Although Animal Magnetism contains such classic songs as "The Zoo" and "Make It Real," the album is somewhat disappointing when compared to its predecessor, Lovedrive. The well-written songs on this album end up saving it from total disaster, and it's obvious the band wasn't sure what to exactly put on this record -- many of the songs sound like the work of some other rock group and simply don't blend together as they should. Singer Klaus Meine, known for his excellent vocal performances, sounds bored and just plain overshadowed. Although far from bad, Animal Magnetism isn't a highlight of the Scorpions' career. ~ Barry Weber, Rovi

Blackout Play

Blackout was the Scorpions' first majorly successful album, due to its clever balance of pop/rock (the title track), power ballads ("When the Smoke Is Going Down"), and catchy heavy metal ("Dynamite," "No One Like You"). Vocalist Klaus Meine had a throat operation prior to the record's release, and surprisingly, his voice sounds more melodic and lively than ever. The rest of the band sounds great as well, and the album is highlighted by the fast-paced performances of guitarists Rudolf Schenker and Matthias Jabs. Blackout has arguably been called the Scorpions' best record ever, and that statement is not unjust -- it has more energy than anything else they have ever released. ~ Barry Weber, Rovi

Hurricane Rock 74-88 Play

Imported from England, this 18-track disc is a compilation of the Scorpions' studio hits from Fly to the Rainbow through Savage Amusement. Many of the classics are here, but the album possesses one noticeable flaw -- its lack of the Scorpions' ballads. Although the Blackout hit "When the Smoke is Going Down" made it to the album, songs like "Still Loving You" and "Holiday" are surprisingly missing. But then again, maybe that is why the album is called Hurricane Rock, and in that aspect, it captures their anthems and rockers quite nicely. ~ Barry Weber, Rovi

Essential Play

Calling this Essential is far from accurate and slightly misleading. While it does contain some of the Scorpions' brighter moments as a band, it is far from a complete portrait of their signature sound, especially with some of their most well-loved and most recognized songs notably absent ("Winds of Change" being the most prominent). For those looking for a more comprehensive survey of the group's career, 2002's Bad for Good and 2001's budget-line 20th Century Masters compilations are more thorough in scope. ~ Rob Theakston, Rovi

The Best of Rockers 'N' Ballads Play

Even though it's the official greatest-hits compilation of the Scorpions' '80s releases, The Best of Rockers 'n' Ballads is actually missing some of their best rockers and ballads. While it contains such hits as "Rock You Like a Hurricane," "Blackout," and "The Zoo," the 12 songs listed simply don't give the listener a complete impression of what the Scorpions are all about. In fact, some of the band's best songs, such as "Dynamite" and "Another Piece of Meat," were never hits in the first place and are therefore absent. It certainly makes a fine sampler, but those looking for a near-definitive best-of are advised to purchase the double-disc set Deadly Sting: The Mercury Years, Rovi
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