By Kyle Harcott
Okay, confession time – I haven’t listened to a whole Scorpions album since Love At First Sting… But in my defense, wasn’t that basically their last great album? Sure, nobody could escape “Winds of Change” once it blew up on the radio, but for me, the Scorps pretty much fell off my radar after “Rock You like A Hurricane”. Nonetheless, credit where it’s due for longevity, and after a lot of false steps and misdirection since their late-‘80s heyday, I’m happy to report the band has finally decided to go out with a bang.
The Scorpions announced in January that Sting In The Tail would be their last record, followed up by their final world tour, so I figured I’d better give the new album a shot no matter what. And off the bat, I can tell you that while it’s nothing new under the sun, if you’re a long-time fan of the Scorps, you’ll probably like this album a lot more than their entire ‘90s output. In recent interviews, Rudolf Schenker made no bones about the fact that the band were going for that classic Blackout and Love At First Sting sound on this disc. Of course, when most bands say that, I roll my eyes, grit my teeth and hope the new one won’t stink as bad as their last album (which, granted, I didn’t listen to anyway) – and then the new album usually gets one spin and is promptly forgotten about. But honestly, the Scorps’ve actually kept their word here and made one hell of a decent hard rock record. The songs sound sort of like the best of their ‘80s catalogue.
“Raised On Rock” opens the record, with a riff that’s basically “Rock You like A Hurricane” turned inside out. If you’re still unsure, the first thing out of Klaus Meine’s yapper is “I was born in a hurricane”, so there’s really no doubt as to what they’re trying to recapture – but they manage to pull it off. The title track -another burner about rockin’ out, cheap guitars and dirty riffs- follows up and I predict its football-chant chorus will be echoing throughout concert halls worldwide on the upcoming tour. “Slave Me”, with its divebomb bridge is another memorable stomper; except for the whole ‘shake-me-bake-me-break-me’ thing – that’s a little cheeseball, but not really out of place here. Then there’s “The Spirit of Rock” and it’s the kind of song the Scorpions have been writing for years. Say what you will about a band constantly using the word rock in song titles, but the formula works for the Scorpions, so fair play.
True to form, though, she’s not ALL rockers here, boys – unsere Deutschen freunde come up with their usual share of syrupy ballads on Sting… as well. The first one we hear, “The Good Die Young” features none other than Tarja Turunen, and the Scorpions claim it’s a ‘duet’, but you have to listen closely ‘cos Tarja only appears on the operatic backgrounds. Of course, the better ballad on the disc is “Lorelei”, which comes about as close to past glories like “Still Loving You” as they’re gonna get. Saccharine-sweetness aside, the song’s catchy as hell, and I wouldn’t be surprised to hear it all over what’s left of commercial hard-rock radio stations. The last track on the disc, “Best Is Yet To Come” is another attempt at a “Winds of Change”-type ballad. Sure, it’s maudlin, but it’s the Scorpions, so you shouldn’t really be surprised.
At the end of the day, I’ll praise the Scorpions for ending their forty-year career on a high note. Regardless of whatever commercial success this final album brings for them, the band’s attempted to recapture their past glories and I’ll give them their due propers for it. Put it this way: If you cut your teeth on albums like Blackout or Love At First Sting, I’d hazard a guess that you’ll dig this record too.
(BMG Records International)