Reviews roundup – Scorpions: Reissues
Taken By Force / Tokyo Tapes / Lovedrive / Animal Magnetism / Blackout / Love At First Sting / World Wide Live / Savage Amusement
Blimey, but that’s a lot of Scorpions. They’re out there, 50 years down the line, after 4 vocalists, 7 bass players, 6 guitarists, 12 drummers and a rogue seventies keyboard player, still delivering their patented brand of Euro metal. And here are eight reissues, spanning the eleven years from 1977 – 1988, which saw them develop from a gumby, prog tinged Euro metal band into a sleek, platinum selling, US shed filling arena act.
I always liked the Scorpions. They were amusing. And they wrote some great songs. Not a usual combination in the world of metal. But you would never have guessed it from “Taken By Force”. Now I like seventies Scorps and am more than happy to spin some ‘Steamrock Fever’, but you would never have guessed the mighty leap they would take after the departure of Uli Jon Roth. It’s quaint, though, and comes with five demo tracks, plus the already issued B-side to ‘He’s a Woman – She’s a Man’, the always delightful ‘Suspender Love’.
Then it was on to “Tokyo Tapes”. Much lauded, it wrapped up the Roth years over four sides of vinyl. It’s not something I dig out often but fans will lap up the unreleased live recordings of ‘Polar Nights’, ‘Hell Cat’, ‘Catch Your Train’, ‘He’s A Woman, She’s A Man’, ‘Robot Man’ and the Scorpions’ version of the Japanese national anthem ‘Kimi Ga Yo’.
With Roth gone, it was time for Matthias Jabs and Michael Schenker to make an appearance on the first of the classic Scorpions albums, “Lovedrive”. It was sleek, it was metallic, it had a mucky cover, what more could a 13 year old boy want! You should all own it already, but now it comes with a DVD and interview, with live clips from their 1979 Japanese tour and two demo tracks. But more interesting, to the band, it saw them make inroads to the US charts.
Something that should have seen “Animal Magnetism” break through. But it didn’t lift them any higher. It always felt a bit rushed, but it’s an enjoyable release and comes with five demo tracks, and it did lead on to Blackout”!
Which the record company are keeping to themselves, so I can’t tell you much about the new version, bar the fact it is THE essential Scorpions LP, saw them go Top 10 in the USA, comes with 5 bonus tracks and a 1983 TV concert on DVD.
“Love At First Sting” came next, and was the biggest album of their career, hence why the record company have pulled a “Blackout”. Me, I was a bit let down at the time, as it was just a bit too glossy, but with five demo tracks, a second CD comprising their Madison Square Gardens show from 1984 and a DVD of TV appearances, it’s probably worth it.
“World Wide Live” should have been great, as it was recorded when the band were at their live peak. It wasn’t, but that may be down to the editing, which saw recordings from about five concerts converted to one album, but they have reissued the original VHS concert on DVD, and that is worth seeing.
It took three years for “Savage Amusement” to arrive, and it really wasn’t worth the wait. The band seemed to have lost their edge, and it was all a bit too pop rock for my liking. Age hasn’t been kind to it either, as it is very eighties in sound. On the plus side, it has Lee Aaron doing backing vocals on ‘Rhythm of Love’. It was their last Top 10 album in America, and their last collaboration with Dieter Dirks. It comes with half a dozen demos and a DVD of videos and the ” To Russia With Love And Other Savage Amusements” material.
It’s some achievement to have lasted this long, and the Scorpions have some immense material in their back catalogue. All the CD releases come with 16 page booklets featuring rare photos, single covers, backstage passes and additional liner notes by former Editor-in Chief of Metal Hammer, Edgar Klüsener. Five of the eight albums are accompanied with a DVD containing contemporary live concert footage, along with TV-performances and in-depth interviews with the band. The albums are coming out on 180-gram vinyl in sleeves replicating the first pressing, and come with an audio CD, featuring the original track listing and the same bonus audio as the CD formats. All 8 vinyl discs are set to be released in a limited and numbered box set. As reissue programmes go, these are the bomb.