Crazy World by Scorpions

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Crazy World by ScorpionsDriven by the popularity of a historically significant song, Crazy World was a commercial success in 1990 for Scorpions. The eleventh overall studio release by this rock band from Germany, the album charted high in the US and is the group’s highest selling album all time in the UK. Formed a quarter century earlier, this record also ushered in a fourth decade of production for Scorpions and showed that they still had plenty of creativity and rock originality in contemporary times.

Following the tremendous success of 1984’s Love at First Sting, the band toured the world and spawned the popular live album, World Wide Live in 1985. Now at the height of their popularity, the group decided to take some time off before recording another studio album. Four years in the making, Savage Amusement was released in 1988 sporting a more polished and mature sound that was met with some disappointment by long time fans.

In an effort to distance themselves from the sound on that latter album, Scorpions decided not to us their long-time producer Dieter Dierks, who had worked with the band on every previous album dating back to the mid 1970s. The group brought in studio veteran Keith Olsen, who worked to bring back the band’s raw, classic sound. The band also enlisted the help of studio composer Jim Vallance, who contributed to several of the album’s tracks.


Crazy World by Scorpions
Released: November 6, 1990 (Mercury)
Produced by: Keith Olsen & Scorpions
Recorded: Goodnight LA Studios, Los Angeles & Wisseloord Studios, The Netherlands, Summer-Fall, 1990
Track Listing Group Musicians
Tease Me Please Me
Don’t Believe Her
To Be With You In Heaven
Wind of Change
Restless Nights
Lust or Love
Kicks After Six
Hit Between the Eyes
Money and Fame
Crazy World
Send Me an Angel
Klaus Meine
Lead Vocals
Matthias Jabs
Guitars, Vocals
Rudolf Schenker
Guitars, Vocals
Francis Buchholz
Bass, Vocals
Herman Rarebell
Drums, Vocals

Starting off the album, “Tease Me Please Me” is a pure eighties-style rocker with good, deep riffing and majestic vocals by lead singer Klaus Meine. The song’s chorus has a catchy hook with rudiment accents. The second track, “Don’t Believe Her”, follows in much the same vein as the opener. In fact, this song is so similar it could be the second part of a multi-part suite (which it is not), using the same composers and the same vibe. “To Be with You in Heaven” starts with simple drum beat by
Herman Rarebell along with swelling guitar feedback before the two instruments join forces in unison. Moderate and methodical throughout, the song contains same philosophical and romantic lyrics with the hook;

To be with you in heaven I would go through the darkest hell, In heaven there’s no cure for love that kills…”

“Wind of Change” was written solely by Meine and is the true classic from this album (not to mention one of the all-time rock classics). The signature whistling intro is accompanied by a perfect blend of one acoustic guitar and two electric guitars by Matthias Jabs and Rudolf Schenker. The group’s most genuine track, the lyrics come in the wake of the fall of the Berlin Wall and forecast a similar change in Russia (which actually happened the following year, just as the song was peaking). “Wind of Change” holds the record for the best-selling single by a German artist, topping the charts in seven nations across the globe (including Germany) and reached the Top 5 in both the US and UK.

 
Obviously following this high point, the album never gets any better. But there still are some interesting moments. “Restless Nights” contains a methodical blues crunch with interesting and melodic verses. Here bassist Francis Buchholz has a few moments to shine through and Meine gets to show off his vocal range. Crazy World was the last album to feature Buchholz, a veteran from the band’s classic lineup.

The album’s original second side starts with a couple of standard hard rock tracks. the rather mundane theme of “Lust or Love” is followed by “Kicks After Six”, which contains some sonically desirable riffs. “Hit Between the Eyes” follows with some nice fire-one style rudiments and a hyper arrangement throughout, including a cool duo guitar lead by Jabs and Schenker.

Coming down the stretch, we have the steady rocker “Money and Fame”, featuring a cool talk box effect by Jabs, who co-wrote the track with Rarebell. The title track, “Crazy World” has interesting chord progressions and a deep and smooth harmony during the chorus hook. However, at five minutes long, this track is stretched out a bit too long. Vallance plays some moody keyboards along with Schenker’s picked acoustic on “Send Me an Angel”, a ballad which is at once melancholy and hopeful. The true highlight of this closer is Meine’s vocal which shine through with another indelible hook to complete the album.

Just prior to the release of Crazy World, the group fittingly launched the all-star concert The Wall Live In Berlin, performing both versions of Pink Floyd’s “In the Flesh”. Following the album’s release, Scorpions launched their own world tour with further success.

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Part of Classic Rock Review’s celebration of the 25th anniversary of 1990 albums.

Love at First Sting by Scorpions

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Love at First Sting by ScorpionsScorpions reached the peak of their long career with the 1984 album Love at First Sting. This album spawned the group’s best selling singles and peaked in the Top 10 of the American album charts. The album is also notable due to a couple of ancillary facts. The original cover art (shown here) was deemed unsuitable for certain retail outlets, forcing the group to re-package the album in some markets. This was one the first albums to be recorded wholly using digital technology. While on the technological cutting edge, this also caught some blow-back from some long time fans who felt the sound was too polished and metallic.

Scorpions were formed in 1965 by guitarist Rudolf Schenker, the only original member to remain through the decades. Vocalist Klaus Meine joined the group just prior to the release of their debut album Lonesome Crow in 1972. Through the seventies, Scorpions gained popularity, led by releases like 1976’s Virgin Killer and 1978’s Lovedrive. This latter album was the first to feature guitarist Matthias Jabs.

At the dawn of the eighties, the band’s popularity accelerated with the release of Animal Magnetism in 1980 and Blackout in 1982. During this period, Meine required surgery on his vocal cords and his future with the band was in doubt. But he eventually had a full recovery and came back stronger than ever as an MTV audience was exposed to this band.


Love at First Sting by Scorpions
Released: March 27, 1984 (Harvest)
Produced by: Dieter Dierks
Recorded: Dierks Studios, Germany, 1983–1984
Side One Side Two
Bad Boys Running Wild
Rock You Like a Hurricane
I’m Leaving You
Coming Home
The Same Thrill
Big City Nights
As Soon as the Good Times Roll
Crossfire
Still Loving You
Group Musicians
Klaus Meine – Lead Vocals
Rudolf Schenker – Guitars, Vocals
Matthias Jabs – Guitars
Francis Buchholz – Bass, Keyboards, Vocals
Herman Rarebell – Drums, Vocals

Love at First String was produced by the group’s long time collaborator, Dieter Dierks, and recorded at his studios in Pullheim Stommeln, Germany. Co-written by drummer Herman Rarebell, the opener “Bad Boys Running Wild” starts with a screaming lead and steady riff but falls into a lame and dated chorus. “Rock You Like a Hurricane” brings things back with great sonic qualities and melodies and a fantastic guitar lead by Schenker. A staple of 80s hard rock, the song reached #25 on the pop charts and its sex-charged lyrics include the album’s title.

“I’m Leaving You” is a decent rock song with good vocals and variations of melodic sections over a steady rock arrangement. “Coming Home” is a bit more complex as a multi-part track which starts as a soft ballad before breaking into a frenzied rocker led by the drums of Rarebell and a harmonized mocking-vocal guitar riff. “The Same Thrill” finishes off side one as an almost punk song in the way it noisily comes in and does not relent throughout.

The album’s second side is far more solid and even than the first. On “Big City Nights” the duo riff approach works well, along with a thumping bass by Francis Buchholz and dynamic vocals with a decent hook by Meine. “As Soon As the Good Times Roll” is a moderately slow and unique tune which contains some reggae elements in its approach, while “Crossfire” has a darker feel, led by the marching drum roll throughout with some good harmonies in the hook and rapid fire guitar phrases.

The intro to the ballad “Still Loving You” is the true highlight of the album due to the masterful guitar work of Schenker and Jabs. Dramatic but not tacky, this ninth and final track brings the whole album up to another level as an indelible love song which sounds as fresh and bright thirty years on as it did in 1984.

Love at First Sting reach the Top 20 on both sides of the Atlantic and Scorpions toured extensively in the wake of its success, forging a live album along the way. The group’s output and popularity remained high throughout the decade and well into the 1990s.

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Part of Classic Rock Review’s celebration of the 30th anniversary of 1984 albums.

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Kingdom Come

Kingdom Come 1988 debut albumKingdom Come released their well-received, self-titled debut album in early 1988. Led by German born front man Lenny Wolf, who co-wrote most of the album’s material with the group’s manager Marty Wolff, the band scored their most popular and best-selling album right out of the gate. After the band’s lead single generated tremendous buzz well ahead of the album release, Kingdom Come went gold on the same day it was released and eventually went platinum status in the United States, Germany and Canada and peaked at #12 on the U.S. Album charts. Part of the initial attraction (and later critique) of the band was their audio likeness to classic-era Led Zeppelin.

Kingdom Come was formed shortly after Wolf and Wolff were signed to Polygram Records in 1987. They formed a five-piece group starting with Pittsburgh-based lead guitarist Danny Stag. Although Wolf was a guitarist himself, the duo decided that he would purely be a frontman and enlisted Rick Steier as a second rhythm guitarist.

The album was co-produced by Bob Rock, who forged a crisp and solid rock sound at Little Mountain studio in Vancouver and mixed it at the famous Electric Lady studios in New York City. There is little doubt that the Zeppelin-esque sound forging was intentional, as there was a huge appetite for that band’s reunion through the 1980s. The result of this was a tremendous amount pre-release buzz about the band, some of it mistaken rumors of a covert reunion of the surviving members of Led Zeppelin. But soon the quintet was dismissed as simply “clones” which crowded out any serious examination of their fine music.

 


Kingdom Come by Kingdom Come
Released: March 1, 1988 (Polydor)
Produced by: Bob Rock & Lenny Wolf
Recorded: Little Mountain Studios, Vancouver, Canada, 1987-1988
Side One Side Two
Living Out of Touch
Pushin’ Hard
What Love Can Be
17
The Shuffle
Get It On
Now Forever After
Hideaway
Loving You
Shout It Out
Band Musicians
Lenny Wolf – Lead Vocals  |  Danny Stag – Lead Guitars
Rick Steier – Guitars  |  Johnny B. Frank – Bass  |  James Kottak – Drums

 

Despite the over-the-top Zeppelin comparisons, the main riff for the opener “Living Out of Touch” is more Robin Trower than Jimmy Page. The verse contains a calm strum over consistent bass and drum beat, with the riff returning during the chorus to give the song a more driving and intense vibe. “Pushin’ Hard” is more standard eighties hair metal, albeit with some good dynamics such as the mid section where everything comes down except a slow bass riff by Johnny B. Frank.

“What Love Can Be” is very bluesy, slow and deliberate – somewhat like Zeppelin’s “Tea For One”, but really more like “Ride On” by AC/DC. This moody and dark song contains some unexpected sonic treats which help it to rise above the typical power ballad while giving it room to still become a radio hit. “17” starts with big-bang drum beat by James Kottak before leading into a long intro section which is almost like a preview of Pearl Jam (who wouldn’t come along til 3 years later). However, once the verse kicks in, “17” becomes kind of sparse and repetitive. The first side concludes with “The Shuffle”, which is kind of fun and upbeat, breaking out of the deliberate pattern. Here Wolf mocks Stag’s guitar lines, much like Plant mocked Page’s on early Led Zeppelin albums.

The song which, by far, drew the most attention for Kingdom Come was “Get It On”. This song is driven by Wolf’s incredible dynamics along with a John-Paul-Jones-like bass and crisp duo guitar riffs. It even includes a John Bonham-like drum fill before the song’s grand conclusion. Allegedly, a cassette copy of the song’s mix was leaked to a radio station in Detroit, which started playing the song before its official release by the band, setting off a chain reaction which fueled the “Zeppelin reunion” rumors and giving “Get It On” tremendous airplay from coast to coast.

The rest of side two contains three fillers and one absolute masterpiece. Drummer Kottak and bassist Frank each co-wrote track with “Now Forever After” and “Hideaway” respectively. Both of these songs are pleasant enough but really dated in the sense that they could have been eighties movie soundtrack songs. The closer “Shout It Out” is even more disappointing, containing nothing much more than its cheap hook. The real gem is Stag’s “Loving You”, which is a real showcase for both Stag and Wolf. The song features fantastic arrangement and production techniques with the placement of eclectic instruments and reverb effects. From a sparse electric guitar beginning to the mostly acoustic song proper, the song goes to pastoral setting with majestic dynamics, accented by some slight fiddle and/or strings and the emotional dynamics of Wolf’s vocals, which peak here like nowhere else on the album.

Following the release and meteoric success of Kingdom Come in 1988, the band was chosen to open up the summer “Monsters of Rock” tour with many of the top hard rock / heavy metal acts of the day. The following year, the band released their follow-up LP, In Your Face, which had more modest sales and internal conflicts led to the band’s abrupt break-up in August 1989.

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Part of Classic Rock Review’s celebration of the 25th anniversary of 1988 albums.

1988 Images