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Scorpions Month II: Love at First Cash Grab - 69%

Empyreal, December 10th, 2009

This is the second installment of December is for Scorpions, and today we jump into the future of the band with one of the releases from their commercial heyday. Enticed? I hope so.

Well, after Blackout, there really wasn’t any place for Germany’s rock heroes to go but down, and down they went with Love at First Sting. Now, before you go nuts, I still don’t think this is really bad. This album is pretty decent overall, if not uninspired and somehow even more commercial than the previous effort. I mean, really, that’s an accomplishment! Blackout was already unabashedly commercial and fiendishly hook-oriented, and this one is like, how much commercial ass can we kiss? Apparently, a lot.

“Bad Boys Running Wild” kicks off first, and the problem is evident: the band slowed down. They still play their trademark brand of creamy hard rock, but somehow it just sounds slower and stodgier, less dynamic and less electric in tempo. It sounds dumbed down, is what it is. The rhythm section just isn’t playing as fast or as smooth as on the previous one. Even despite this, “Rock You Like a Hurricane” and the epic “Coming Home” manage to kick things up a notch with build-ups to crescendos of Germanic power and metallic might. Klaus Meine croons away over the pristine guitar riffs and melodic leads like an extremely nasal, sleazy siren, and the rhythm section keeps on crunching. “Crossfire” is the album’s weird talking point, with a militaristic beat and a sort of patriotic feel to it – a hymn to fallen heroes, perhaps? It’s an interesting song, which of course means that the band wouldn’t do it again or expound upon it on the following release – but that’s another story.

A lot of the stuff on here sort of falls into the bargain-bin-esque category of “listenable and fun, but would you really miss it if it were gone?” It’s filler stuff. Songs like “I’m Leaving You,” “Big City Nights” and especially the tepid droll of “As Soon as the Good Times Roll” just don’t really go anywhere. These songs are pretty much cashing in on the whole 80s glam rock thing that so many bands were doing at the time, except with the old Scorpions flair – it’s like seeing an old friend coming home from a trip completely changed, without anything that made him or her distinguishable. They resign themselves to sounding…bland and uninspired. Not ambitious at all except for the band’s desire to make money. That may have been an incentive. The filler on Blackout was so good that it almost wasn’t filler at all, and certainly didn’t detract from the album’s lightning-fire energy. I only wish the same thing was true for this album.

The last song on here is “Still Loving You,” another one of the band’s long epic romance ballads, and a good one, at that. Which is why it gets its own paragraph. I don’t think this song is quiiiiite as good as some people seem to, but it’s definitely of reasonably good quality. I like the mature, somber feel it has and the poignant lyrics, and their delivery – probably the best performance by Klaus Meine that this album boasts. It is a quiet, slow song with a wistful, mourning feel, and it succeeds as that, ending the album on a much more serious and mature note than it deserved. How deceitful.

So that’s Love at First Sting, the album that unfortunately cemented the band’s place in mainstream rock history when it should have been one of their previous ones. It is pretty decadent, without a lot of the charm of the band’s earlier releases (hell, even their recent releases at the time; this was only two years after Blackout!), and replaced with a lot of hollow imitation of said charm. But I have to admit, the imitations are at least decent ones, and the album remains at least a little bit entertaining.

…well, most of it…

…Okay, about half of it. Eh, it could’ve been worse. It could’ve been Savage Amusement