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Scorpions have one of the most illustrious careers in heavy metal and music overall. They are mostly known for “Rock You Like a Hurricane” and their Cold War ballad “Wind of Change.” However, most don’t know of their humble beginnings in the mid-sixties and that their first full-length was released in 1972. To those that have not heard this, I would say forget about what you know about the band because this is something totally different.
“Lonesome Crow” is basically a trippy, psychedelic, rock album from Germany’s biggest export. The soothing vocals of Klaus Meine are still noticeable, but heavy riffing and flying solos are not going to be found here. A lot of mellowing howls by Meine are used either for atmosphere or to go along with the rhythm. The first track “I’m Goin’ Mad” utilizes this technique. It has a strong psychedelic vibe with some crazily spoken vocals which he has not done since this debut.
The guitars are provided by the brothers Schenker in Rudolph and Michael before he joined British rockers UFO. The guitar sound has a Black Sabbath influence and most of the guitar playing is doom filled and has the snarl that Sabbath’s had. The guitar does not really kick in on most songs until after the verses. Usually, Meine sings on soft verses over the bass and light drumming and then the guitar kicks in after the verse ends. The long jam on the title track showcases some nice solos and hints of Michael’s guitar playing shine.
“In Search of the Peace of Mind” is the best song on here because of its shift in moods. It starts with an upbeat acoustic guitar and Meine shows his keen sense of melody in the vocals. The song is peaceful and then all of a sudden it turns frantic as a brooding bass line is backed up by screaming vocals and ends on a creepy note.
Some other good tunes are “Leave Me” which has some more mellow howls and is very trippy, but the bluesy solo and the energetic playing at the end make this stand out. “It All Depends” is as close to a straight-up rocker as one is going to find on here. The drums and bass are very jazzy and it sounds like a song that I would “shake” my head to. This song definitely reeks of early seventies rock.
This first of many albums from Scorpions is very solid. The problem is that nothing spectacular is on here save for “In Search of the Peace of Mind.” Their sound would take another couple albums to solidify itself, but the groovy and trippy vibe of this record is still enjoyable and worth a listen.
Everyone knows the Scorpions. But they are mostly known, loved or hated for either the stadium rock they played in the eighties, or their extremely popular ballad Wind of Change. Many people do not know that there was a time before their big hits. But it all started in 1972 with Lonesome Crow.
In 1972 the Scorpions were Klaus Meine (vocals), Rudolf Schenker (guitar), his younger brother Michael (guitar), Lothar Heimberg (bass) and Wolgang Dziony (drums). The style presented on Lonesome Crow is some typical late sixties / early seventies rock (not hard rock!) with strong influences of jazz and psychedelic rock like The Doors. This style is also completely different from the stuff they played on the following albums. Lonesome Crow is something like the forgotten album by the Scorpions, compared to Rocka Rolla (but better).
There are mainly two types of songs on the album. On the one hand we have moody, atmospheric music with a strong psychedelic influence, which reminds me a bit of The Doors in their earlier days (minus excessive organ playing). On the other hand there is more jazz and blues rock inspired music.
The jazzier sound is featured basically in two songs, It All Depends and Action. Especially Action has a very groovy bass line, which shows what a good bass player Heimberg is. But I have to admit that these songs are my least favorite ones on the record.
In my opinion the album really shines when it comes to the atmospheric parts. I’m Goin’ Mad sounds very creepy with its percussion in the beginning and Klaus’ vocals, which become more and more intense. Another one of my faves is Leave Me, which sounds close to the aforementioned Doors influence. The backing vocals are very nicely done. Inheritance has a similar atmosphere but I would consider it a bit weaker. In Search of the Peace of Mind is special, because it’s the only song that was also included on Tokyo Tapes (at least half of it). It is mostly played on acoustic guitar that creates a very peaceful atmosphere but in the end the intensity increases with Meine yelling “In search…” several times (this part was left out on Tokyo Tapes). In Search… sound a bit like the following album.
The title track deserves a special mention because it combines the two major influences into a mystical journey of thirteen minutes. It starts of slow (like Inheritance) but goes through various stages with great bass and guitar solos. In the end it goes back to the beginning with Klaus stepping back in. I recommend listening to this in darkness.
My conclusion is: If you are a fan of early seventies rock, you must get this album, although you might not like the Scorpions in general. It’s one of the best albums they ever released.
Recommended songs: I’m Goin’ Mad, Leave Me, Lonesome Crow
This, the very first Scorpions album, sounds exactly like what it is: a heavy metal album from the early 70’s. As such, the band channel an authentic Sabbath-like rock ‘n’ roll vibe as well as an omnipresent psychedelic groove that adds immense character to the pieces on display. This is not the chart-topping, rock-anthem writing Scorpions of the 80’s. No, this was a band much more focused on making music than writing hits and selling albums. It shows too; the songs featured on Lonesome Crow have considerable depth, which is something their later material wouldn’t always have.
Lonesome Crow actually bears little resemblance to the band’s popular future material, unlike similar 70’s debuts from bands like Judas Priest, Rush, and even Motorhead, whose early works were primitive, but could still be linked in hindsight to their later material (well, maybe not late-80’s onward Priest). Parallels to Black Sabbath’s debut are not uncommon: both have talented bassists taking a prominent role in the mix, both feature extended jamming and guitar soloing (the early style of the brothers’ Schenker is total Iommi worship), both have enigmatic vocalists taking a backseat to the instruments (though more so on Lonesome Crow than Black Sabbath), and both sport an airy production that create a unique, dream-like atmosphere in which the mind can roam. It is indeed worth noting that Klaus Meine’s vocals are hardly recognizable, as there are few lyrics per song and his delivery is rarely straightforward. Sometimes he even delivers lines in a sort of deadpan half-spoken way, lending a kind of vibe that carries shades of Pink Floyd or even early King Crimson. His vocals really sell the psychedelic influence in their sound. Anyway, most of the tracks focus on the almighty groove created from the guitars and bass, but a few take the time to really highlight the band’s atmospheric side (“I’m Goin’ Mad,” the lengthy title track). Not a bad song in the bunch, though you might not be quick to place these numbers up against “No One Like You” or “Wind of Change.”
Lonesome Crow might be a bit unusual for fans of the band’s later material, but it is indispensible for fans of 70’s rock/metal. If you like Rocka Rolla, On Parole, or early Deep Purple/Thin Lizzy, you’ll dig this as well.
Originally written for: http://www.metal-observer.com
This album is not like the Scorpions that hit it big in the 80s with songs like “No one like you” or “Winds Of Change”. Lonesome Crow represents a very young Scorpions that features Michael Schenker (16 years old at the time of this recording) on guitar together with his brother Rudolph.
It’s obvious that this album was heavily inspired by the early albums of Black Sabbath, although it has more of a “bluesy rock with a hint of psychedelic groove” feeling. Some of the guitar solos on “Inheritance” and “Action” sound just like Mr. Iommi was channeling himself through their guitars.
The bass and drums are not really taking a backseat to all of this, both Lothar Heimberg and Wolfgang Dziony prove themselves more than capable. The excellent bass work is especially noticeable all over the album.
Lonesome Crow will not fall into the classic Scorpions album category, but all together as a debut this will not disappoint.
This album can be considered one of the foundations of the Wave of German Heavy Metal that was coming about a decade later. This will be thoroughly appreciated by you that enjoy rock and early metal.
The closest thing I can compare this to is Black Sabbath's early work. However, no where near as down tuned or distorted. The lead work provided by then fraternal guitar team Rudolph and Michael Schenker screams out it's influence from Tony Iommi. Indeed, the opening track I'm Going Mad is atmospheric with agonized yelled vocals coming in towards the end.
The bass work is also a highlight of this album, as would any album so inspired by the likes of Geezer Butler. It's is crisp and clear giving the music great depth. This is 1972 so don't expect the duel guitar work of the 80's. When the solo starts, its the bass that provides the rhythm underneath. It all Depends is a great example of the phenomenal bass support.
This album doesn't get near the attention it deserves. From the intro of In Search of the Peace of Mind you can see the route the band, and metal would take in the coming years. Throw in some backing power chords to that intro lead and you have the beginning of NWOBHM, or GHM, in this bands case.
If your a fan of 70's metal and rock then give this album a try. It ranges from bluesy metal to psychedelic rock. The early vocals of Klaus Meine are quite different and more reserved. The lead work is great and a definite nod to Mr. Iommi. Overall this is a great debut.