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Another non-metal passion project from Germany’s original heavy metal band, Acoustica is a live album comprised of a number of ‘unplugged’ performances from one of their early tours from this millennium (there’s also a DVD of the same title that’s a bit longer). Like the abominable electro-pop experiment and the boring orchestral one, Acoustica is a test of a given Scorpions fan’s patience, its quality mostly dependent on the listener’s open-mindedness and general love of the band. The last two departures were not to my liking, but here, finally, it seems that our arachnid idols found a way to be both completely bizarre and genuinely enjoyable on the same disc. And all they had to do was turn off their amplifiers to do it.
Like the orchestral album Moment of Glory, the majority of tracks rendered acoustically here are the band’s ballads. And once again, it’s no surprise, as these are the tracks most easily adaptable to the ‘unplugged’ sound. However, unlike the aforementioned attempt at diversity, here the Scorps are a bit more ambitious and varied. Opening with a keyboard/acoustic rendition of “The Zoo” no less! And somehow it works, the rhythm section that played so stagnantly on Eye II Eye working wonders here. All the anticipated tracks are accounted for: “Wind of Change,” “Send Me An Angel,” “Still Loving You,” “Holiday,” and “Rock You Like a Hurricane” could have been predicted by just about everybody. But there’s plenty of unexpected stuff to be found, such as “Catch Your Train” from all the way back on Virgin Killer and, strangely enough, a number of cover tunes, all of which are predated by the Scorpions’ earliest efforts. Altogether, a third of this release is unique to it, including a pair of brand new tracks, “Love Kills Love” and “I Wanted to Cry.” The album is a bit too ballad intensive to really appreciate these as they might be appreciated (as softer counterparts to heavier rock anthems) but they’re kinda nice anyway, if you find enjoyment in the typical Scorpions ballad sound.
Acoustic overkill is likely if you’re listening to this in one sitting, but there is a lot to appreciate. Mathias Jabs’ acoustic leads are regularly stellar, while the rest of the band is solid and, because the album is live (unlike the flawed orchestral album), energetic and into the music. Some session musicians add to the vocal presence and percussion and it just feels like everybody is enjoying themselves on this project. And though I prefer the Scorpions as heavy metal musicians, I have to admit that I found myself enjoying it too.
It’s a quality one-off project, but its necessity in your collection still comes down to personal taste. And even though I do enjoy this diversion, I can’t say that I listen to it with even the faintest regularity. More acoustic rock arrangements like “Catch Your Train” and fewer ballads for me, thanks. For those that enjoy the lighter side of Germany’s finest, Acoustica should at least garner a listen, maybe even a purchase.