Curt Cress

REVIEW: Scorpions – Box of Scorpions (2004)

SCORPIONS – Box of Scorpions (2004 Universal)

Don’t worry – this Box of Scorpions cannot hurt you!  If fact if you allow yourself to be stung, you will find your reality injected with musical ecstasy.

This isn’t a box set to buy if you are looking for unreleased treasure.  It’s strictly a compilation, although you may be able to get a few tracks you didn’t have before.  Box of Scorpions covers every album from the debut Lonesome Crow, beyond 1999’s Eye II Eye, going as far as 2002’s Bad For Good: The Very Best of Scorpions.  That compilation CD included two new songs called “Bad For Good” and “Cause I Love You”.  They were recording specifically for Bad For Good, but it makes sense to get them on the beefier Box of Scorpions instead.

The first disc of this set is inaugurated by “I’m Going Mad”, the same technicolor workout that opened their first album.  The early psychedelic Scorpions songs are only represented by a couple, with “Fly to the Rainbow” being the second.  Stone cold classics form the bulk of the disc, with “Speedy’s Coming” being an obvious focal point.  “In Trance”, “Steamrock Fever”, “We’ll Burn the Sky”, and “Virgin Killer” are all essential cuts.  You can’t fit ‘em all in, of course, but the live album Tokyo Tapes fills in some of the most obvious blanks.  “Top of the Bill”, “Dark Lady” and “Robot Man” are great live inclusions.  The disc ends with the first steps into the modern Scorpions sound with a pair from 1979’s Lovedrive.

Disc two showcases the 80s and all the big Scorpions hits.  The band streamlined their sound.  Some may say “dumbed down”.  The Scorpions of the 80s were massive, but certainly were not challenging your grey matter with complex music like the 70s band were prone to.  They also lost the regality of the Uli Roth era, something his guitar brought to the band.  It was replaced by solid 4/4 hard rock, with plenty of hits.  There is only one live song (from World Wide Live) here, “Another Piece of Meat”.  The rest are all studio originals:  “Big City Nights”, “Still Loving You”, “Rhythm of Love”, “The Zoo”, “No One Like You”, and of course that unstoppable “Hurricane”!  Deeper cuts like “Coast to Coast” and “Dynamite” provide some serious meat.  This disc would make a pretty good standalone compilation.

The third disc concentrates on the 90s, which saw the Scorpions reborn by the success of “Wind of Change”.  Unfortunately, this ushers in a slew of ballads.  The few rockers like “Tease Me, Please Me”, “Alien Nation” and “Don’t Believe Her” are almost drowned by the ballads.  There are some songs you may have missed the first time around.  In addition to the aforementioned “Bad For Good” and “Cause I Love You”, you’ll also get “Over the Top” and “Life Goes Around” which were released in 1997 on Deadly Sting: The Mercury Years.  “Cause I Love You” is really the only keeper of these four obscurities.  It was originally written in 1978 for Lovedrive, and recorded in 2002.  That’s how it sounds, too.  As for the rest, at least getting by these songs all in one place, you don’t really need the other two compilations.  Disc three also contains the unfortunate “Mysterious” from the dreadful Eye II Eye album, and the soul live song “Hurricane 2000” from Moment of Glory with the Berlin Philharmonic.  Neither are really essential though “Hurricane 2000” has its fans.

Box of Scorpions adds up to a good set with plenty of value and a few minor surprises.  If you don’t own all the albums already, this is a good buy.  Be sure to get a copy with the outer plastic slipcase still intact!

3.5/5 stars

 

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REVIEW: Scorpions – Pure Instinct (1996)

PURE INSTINCT_0001SCORPIONS – Pure Instinct (1996)

I remember being very excited when this album came out due to the powerful first single “Wild Child”. I had enjoyed previous Scorpions albums well enough — Face The Heat, Live Bites — due to some great singles.  Face the Heat in particular showed that the Scorpions were still interested in playing heavy music, via the first single “Alien Nation”.  I could have handled some more of that. Pure Instinct, however, is ballad-ridden dreck with no energy and no inspiration.

We all know that since the 80’s, the Scorpions have had tremendous success with ballads. “Still Loving You” has become a signature song, and one of their biggest hits ever was 1990’s “Wind of Change”.  The problem is that Scorpions are a rock band, and Pure Instinct is over half-full with ballads!

I mentioned “Wild Child” as a standout track, and it is.  But even as a hard rock track, it is very commercial.  It’s a lot more pop than “Rock You Like a Hurricane” or “Big City Nights”, though it does boast some enormous hooks.  It is the opening song, and unfortunately it’s all a downhill snooze from there, more or less.

Longtime Scorpion Herman Rarebell departed after Live Bites, so the band employed a session drummer (Curt Cress), while sounding like they are on autopilot. Ballad after ballad after ballad…this gives you, the ballad-loving listener, almost half an hour of ballads. The single “You And I” alone is over 6 minutes long! Most of the rest of the tracks are flat, dull, and uninspired.

The few highlights include the first track “Wild Child”, the uptempo “Stone In My Shoe”, and the ballady-but-still-decent “Where The River Flows”. And that is about it.

The Japanese bonus track, which I have on the single for “You and I”, was called “She’s Knocking At My Door”, which although it was a rocker was also pretty bland.

It would only get worse — the next Scorpions album Eye II Eye has been likened to Savage Garden!  I never bought it and haven’t listened to it since it came out.

2/5 stars. Avoid unless you want to buy it for the three good songs.