The Best Fucking Collaboration Week Ever, Pt. 2
Final review in this series! Mike and Aaron did simultaneous daily reviews of albums that they sent to each other. Mike gifted the original CD of Animal Magnetism to Aaron when he upgraded to the deluxe edition. This time, we are joined by the mighty DEKE from Stick it in Your Ear!
SCORPIONS – Animal Magnetism (2015 BMG deluxe edition, originally 1980)
Post-Lovedrive, the Scorpions were on a roll. American chart success had finally come their way, and the pressure was on to follow it up. Rather than break under the strain, the Scorpions thrived in that atmosphere and put together another solid Euro-metal album with commercial tendencies. Newest member Matthias Jabs was now integrated with the band, and they were ready to roll.
The modern Scorpions thrived on simple, heavy metal riffage and melodic vocals. “Make It Real”, the opening track on Animal Magnetism, exemplifies these qualities. Chunky chugs and soaring guitar melodies are only topped by Klaus Meine’s voice of power. “Make It Real” remains one of the classic, unforgettable Scorpions rockers today and it’s easy to hear why. It’s a perfect concoction of what melodic heavy metal can be.
I don’t like to be too hard on the Scorpions for their lyrics, because their English is a hell of a lot better than my German! With that in mind, “Don’t Make No Promises (Your Body Can’t Keep)” is one of those Scorpions titles that makes me cringe. Thankfully it’s a blitzkrieg of a track, full steam ahead and dripping sleaze. Scorpions had easily mastered the fast metal stylings that put them in similar territory as Judas Priest, but they also had a knack for slow and relentless riffs. “Hold Me Tight” is one of these, like a slow Dio-era Sabbath prowler.
The album is strong throughout. “Twenthiest Century Man” continues a chopping onslaught of rock, but the Scorpions also have a knack for a ballad. “Lady Starlight”, acoustic with a full-on string section with woodwinds, is one of their finer early examples. It’s bizarre to hear a song this tender on the same album as “Don’t Make No Promises (Your Body Can’t Keep)”.
In case you were worried the Scorps had lost it, “Falling in Love” continues the bruising on side two with another simple and effective riff. “Only a Man” is about the only stumble, an off-kilter track that rests in the shadows of the songs before and after. The chorus is great, but next to amazing metal classics like “The Zoo”, there is no contest. And speaking of “The Zoo”, has there ever been such a slow yet so menacing track? Written about their time spent in America, the lyrics are pretty silly. “We eat the night, we drink the time, make our dreams come true. And hungry eyes are passing by, on streets we call the Zoo.” You don’t want to be hard on the guys for their skills with the language, but at the same time…this is also bizarrely catchy!
The title track “Animal Magnetism” is saved for last, an exotic slow crawl preceded by thunderclaps of noisy guitars. Zeppelin meets Black Sabbath on this one, and it’s over and out. Unless you own this deluxe edition….
“Hey You” is tacked on as the first bonus track, a strangely catchy pop rocker with Rudolph Schenker singing lead on the verses. It has a remarkable uniqueness. It was first released as a single, but most of us didn’t hear it until 1989’s Best of Rockers and Ballads. That’s the easiest place to find this fun little tune. A slew of rare demos end the deluxe CD: “Animal Magnetism” (not at all like the album version), “American Girls”, “Get Your Love”, Restless Man”, and “All Night Long”. Some of these songs are exactly what they are — outtakes! Some are better than that. “Get Your Love” was reworked on 1995’s Live Bites CD as “Heroes Don’t Cry”. “Heroes Don’t Cry” has better lyrics and more meat on the bones, but “Get Your Love” has a raw basic quality. “Restless Man” is an early version of “Twentieth Century Man”, all but complete including prototype guitar solos.
There will always be those fans who think albums like Lovedrive and Animal Magnetism were the beginnings of a long slide in quality. When Uli Jon Roth left the band in 1978, he took with him their adventurous side. Their post-Uli music was streamlined and more calculated. Animal Magnetism remains one of their finest albums since.