Monday, August 25, 2008

Kick Your Ass to Heaven with Rock and Roll Tonight

When I lived in Germany, I never saw the Scorpions, but the thing about rock and roll that you will never understand if you are American is the nationalism involved in rock and roll. It seems that no matter what country you’re from, you love your nation’s artists more. The USA and the UK seem to be the exception. I have never met anyone from these countries who point out the artist’s country of origin, unless it’s sort of unique. “Oh, they’re from Sweden.” Canadians are more likely to point out artists that are from Canada, and Germans seem to be proud of their countrymen who make it onto a big stage as well.

I can say this because I was actually at The Metal Hammer Fest in 1985, headlined by Venom and Metallica. If you ever see the “Cliff ‘Em All” video that Metallica put out in the late 80s, there is footage of that same festival in there. Warlock, who at the time only had 2 albums out, before Doro and the boys actually had a video on MTV, played in the middle of the day, and let me tell you, the crowd went apeshit. They were the only German band on the bill, and I’d say they had as vocal of a crowd as Metallica or Venom.

Which brings me to the Scorpions. My main focus on the Scorpions is the four album run starting with Love Drive and ending with Love at First Sting. There is actually a fifth album, World Wide Live which is sort of a greatest hits of these four albums, recorded live. I remember actually making a tape of this album and playing it at the Lindsey Air Station post office where I held a summer job in Germany, and either Anne Park or Deena Limbaugh regretting the fact that it was a live album, because the quality of the studio versions was so much better. I still don’t believe I’ve picked my jaw off the floor from that comment. I never heard anything off other previous albums, and the stuff after World Wide Live was never of any interest to me, for some reason, since I was still into metal, but that "Winds of Change" Gorky Park song was so lame to me. I don't want to hear Klaus Meine talking about political change. I want him talking about "loving you Sunday morning."

While the Scorpions are German, they were and probably still are, HUGE, in the USA. The only time I was able to actually appreciate this was during a trip back to the U.S. between the years I lived in Germany. Love at First Sting had just come out, and the video for “Still Loving You” was all over MTV. The video featured footage of them live in California, and showed people walking to the concert at the beginning of the video. I don’t know if it was just the hot summer, and missing the convenience the U.S. had to offer, but it just felt so American. They didn’t come off as a German band at all.

The other thing I want to point out is the art work. From all the issues of Hit Parader and Circus magazine I read back in the day, I believe drummer, Herman Rarebell (pronounced Rahr-uh-bell in his native country, not Rare Bell like we do here in the States), was the dirty-minded one in the group. He would come up with the naughty lyrics, and I’m pretty sure he had his hand in designing the album covers as well. So, this is your warning that this post may not be suitable for work (NSFW).

Here are my notes on the records, as I remember them:

Love Drive

Man, I forgot how great the first side of this album is. Actually, looking at the song list, I remember everything except the three middle songs. “Loving You Sunday Morning” is your typical Scorpions mainstream song. It could have been played on Top 40 radio. “Another Piece of Meat” is kind of a throwaway, but is kind of funny, speedy, and rocking all at once. And while the title track is excellent as is the rocker ballad, “Holiday”, “Always Somewhere” intrigues me the most on this album. If you played this song back-to-back with Lynyrd Skynyrd’s “Simple Man”, you would swear the Scorpions ripped it off. In fact, I would love to hear some classic rock bar band make a medley of the two songs just to watch people’s confused reactions. Wacky, naughty album cover. Is that supposed to be gum, or flesh that the guy has on his hand?

Animal Magnetism

Overall, I never really cared for this album. There were two songs that stick out. “Falling in Love” which is a mid-tempo, unforgettable rocker and “The Zoo” which a lot of people liked, but was actually kind of boring to me. It’s too long and too plodding for my tastes. However, the most interesting (and fucked up) thing about this album is the cover art, and not just the front of the album. You’ve got a dude holding a beer, and a woman “assuming the position” as well as a Doberman there. I can’t find the original German back cover online anywhere, and I would have taken a photo of the cover had I not given this up in the Great Vinyl Clearout of 1998 when I was making room for my future wife. The American version had the same photo on the back, with the track listing. The German version had the track listing but the dog’s head was extended so that it was out of view, as if the dog was “taking care” of his master. It appears just to be a doctored photo of the original. I know that I wouldn't want a Doberman that close to my John-Thomas.


Every tune on this album is solid. Even the grunge-like “China White” – although grunge had not been invented yet, there was still Sabbath, and there may or may not have been an influence here. You have the rocker ballad, “No One Like You” and the straight up party rocker “Can’t Live Without You” which I’m sure whipped many a crowd into a frenzy. When I first heard the title track in 8th grade, via an American Forces Network commercial showing some kind of tank launching a rocket (remember, this is Germany), I thought to myself, “This is the heaviest rock I’ve ever heard!” I also dig "Now" and "Dynamite" off this album.

Love at First Sting

An even stronger outing than Blackout, I think the Scorpions really hit the mainstream with this one. All the tunes are great, and they scored big with “Rock You Like a Hurricane”, “Big City Nights” and the rocker ballad, “Still Loving You.” My favorites are “I’m Leaving You” (for the great riff after the chorus) and “Coming Home” which starts out like a ballad and then rocks out with its cock out the rest of the way.

You would think that German rock would deserve a good German beer, but quite honestly, I think just as many Americans love the Scorpions as Germans. Therefore, I am recommending Boulevard’s Lunar Ale, which is an American version of a Dunkel Weizen. Enjoy!

1 comment:

Kalle said...

I stumbled on your blog by entering the words "Kick Your Ass to Heaven" into a google search, because I couldn't remember which song it was from. Nice write-up. Thank you. I'm going to go home now and listen to my totally worn out "Blackout" vinyl album.