Thursday, October 27, 2005

When SCORPIONS Ruled the World!

I suppose you could classify me as a “metal head” in high school. I listened to Dokken, Van Halen, Judas Priest, Iron Maiden, and, of course, the Scorpions. I was even playing lead guitar in a band that covered most of those guys. But for me, in 1985, it was all about the Scorpions.

The Scorpions started in 1972 founded by singer Klaus Meine and guitarist Rudolf Schenker. On their second album, Rudolf’s brother Michael (also guitar) joined the group. The band went through a few more members in the 70’s (including Uli Roth on guitar after Michael left) adding Francis Buchholz on bass and Herman Rarebell on drums. After releasing a live album in 1978, the band booted Roth and added the final ingredient to rocket them to stardom: guitarist Matthias Jabs. Jabs completely changed the sound of this band, adding superior solos, fills, and energy. The Scorpions had a new sound and were ready to take over the world.

Granted, by this time, the Scorps (as my dad likes to call them) had already been pretty big in Japan. Then again, who isn’t? But America hadn’t really caught on until the release of Lovedrive in 1979, the first album with Jabs on lead guitar. Suddenly, America noticed. Songs like “Another Piece of Meat,” the instrumental “Coast to Coast,” and the ballad “Holiday” made some noise in the States, and the Scorpions were on the radar.

1980 saw the release of Animal Magnetism, and the Scorps had a few more songs getting radio play. The big hit on this album had to be “The Zoo.” But, overall, the album was just another stepping-stone for the band.

In 1982, the Scorpions hit it big with the release of Blackout. The title track and “Can’t Live Without You” did well, but “No One Like You” propelled the Scorpions into stardom. The song was HUGE and got tons of radio play. Many feel it was the first big hit for the band. In fact, every time my dad hears it on the radio he yells, “the SCORPS!” and does a little jig in the car. It’s very entertaining!

But the Scorps weren’t satisfied. They then released an album that made them THE hard rock band of the 80’s: 1984’s Love at First Sting. This album included “Bad Boys Running Wild,” “Big City Nights,” and mega-hits “Rock You Like a Hurricane” and “Still Loving You.” This is the album that got my attention and made me purchase the previous 3 albums. Or should I say cassettes!

As I mentioned before, I was in a band at this time. Our high school had an event called Spring Fest, which featured bands playing outside all day long. Our band, Annex Redd (don’t ask, because I don’t know), signed up and went on in the early afternoon. We started with “The Zoo” and, after the intro; the singer realized his mike wasn’t working so we had to start again. No big deal. We then broke into “You Got Another Thing Coming” by Judas Priest. Next was the big one – “Rock You Like a Hurricane.” I felt pretty good and thought we sounded OK. I hit the solos pretty well, even though Jabs is incredible. Even though most bands were allowed to play 5 songs, we got cut off early because it was getting late and there were more bands signed up to play after us. As we packed our stuff up, the first of two amazing things happened – the crowd actually started chanting our name: “Annex Redd! Annex Redd! Annex Redd!” It was truly bizarre! I carried my stuff of the stage and headed to our truck. On my way, some kid came around the corner raving to his friend about a guitarist. Here comes amazing thing number two. I heard the kid say, “they played ‘Rock You Like a Hurricane’ and the guy nailed the solo – it was sweet!” I immediately thought, “I guess some other band played that song too,” until… “There he is!” the kid exclaimed while pointing at yours truly. “Dude, you were awesome!” Needless to say, I was pleasantly surprised!

In 1985, the Scorps released a double-live album called World Wide Live. This was concert material recorded in California and was absolutely incredible. I would honestly say the best live album ever. I wore out 3 cassette versions of this thing in my orange and black 1979 Dodge Omni 024! So, now after all of this blabber, here is what inspired me to write this article today: I was listening to World Wide Live in the car the last few days and I felt I just needed to bring it up. Sure it’s 20 years old (good lord!), but the energy, sound, and hilarious quips between songs by Klaus inspired me. I have replaced the cassettes with CD, which originally cut about 4 tracks. However, I just learned today that the CD was remastered in 1997 and all 19 songs are on it. Yep, gonna buy it at lunch today.

Track Listing:

1) Countdown – a 44-second synth intro

2) Coming Home – a tune about touring. Highlight is Klaus yelling, “You like coming home San Diego?” at the end.

3) Blackout – super fast with an incredible guitar solo and fills.

4) Bad Boys Running Wild – ya gotta love Klaus introducing this song!

5) Loving You Sunday Morning

6) Make it Real

7) Big City Nights – more hilarious banter with Klaus.

8) Coast to Coast – at the end, Klaus points out the microphones in the air to the crowd and tells them about the live recording.

9) Holiday – acoustic ballad.

10) Still Loving You – another ballad with a great guitar solo.

11) Rock You Like a Hurricane – Klaus screams, “It’s a rock-n-roll hurricane!” to introduce.

12) Can’t Live Without You – Klaus tries to get the crowd to count down the beginning of the song with him, “one, two, onetwo, onetwothreefour!” However, you can barely understand anything he’s saying through the thick accent. This one is a highlight!

13) Another Piece of Meat – haven’t heard it in 20 years since it wasn’t on the original CD.

14) The Zoo

15) No One Like You – someone please tell me what Klaus says to introduce this song.

16) Dynamite – the band simply rips through this song with Jabs absolutely flying all over the fret board!

17) Can’t Get Enough (Part 1) – the encore

18) Six String Sting – a four-minute guitar solo with Jabs and Klaus bantering back and forth.

19) Can’t Get Enough (Part 2) – the end of the show.

So go ahead – relive the days of spandex and poofy hair! Hunt down World Wide Live and rediscover the incredible shredding guitars of the Scorpions! Oh, and happy birthday to Matthias Jabs this week.

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