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Sweet's Six Live Picks: Part 3/6 - 97%

SweetLeaf95, April 5th, 2017

If World Wide Live is the first thing that comes to mind when someone mentions a live Scorpions record, then let this be your guide; as Tokyo Tapes is far superior (no hate to the other one though). The German rockers would put this out soon after they dropped their greatest record of the decade (possibly overall), Taken By Force. That being said, it contains some of the greatest tracks from said record, as well as all of the other '70s records before hand, including their debut album, which came as a surprise. Much like with Unleashed In The East, what we have here is a showcase of magnificent performances from a specific era, and what I see as the best. It's straight to the point and very accessible.

While Ulrich Roth can bust out some fascinating solos and tackle some great lead hooks that electrify the air on this record, I think the true genius lies in Rudolf Schenker. For someone who's main job is rhythm guitars, he makes riffs that are out of this world and pull the ear right in, seeing how strongly composed they are for being less-than complicated. "Pictured Life" and "He's A Woman, She's A Man" are a lot more raw when performed live, and give off the vibe that was probably supposed to be received in the studio, yet wasn't quite reached with the cleaner production. On this, Schenker is able to pull off a more aggressive sound. "Speedy's Coming" is also one of my favorite songs by them, and was very glad when I first listened to this, hearing it live. No pun intended, it is quite speedy, even more so than the studio, and that mixed with the raw sounding guitars makes for an unstoppable performance of this number.

On the flip side, Klaus Meine's vocals almost seem cleaner, as I can comprehend his powerful vocal range very well. His embellishment on "In Trance" does a stellar job of displaying his range, and the uniqueness of his voice. Same with the Japanese folk cover known as "Kojo No Tsuki", as there is a lot of isolated vocals on that. At no point on this record does he show any sign of struggle, and every note is delivered in such a strong manner. The only thing that could have been improved upon is more bass audibility.

Owning this on vinyl is quite a treat, as it seems to add more atmosphere to it, so if you ever come across this, I suggest picking up the opportunity. I don't know what it is about the three greatest live records being from Japan, but they certainly had quite a decade of shows over there.

Great Intro To The Seventies Scorps Material - 90%

brocashelm, June 14th, 2006

Much like Motorhead would soon celebrate a string of venerated albums with their legendary No Sleep Til Hammersmith opus, the Scorpions did much the same thing to commemorate a duo of high profile Japanese gigs. So far in the band’s career, few folks seemed hip (especially in America) to just how revolutionary and evolutionary the band’s work had recently been, as classic albums like In Trance, Virgin Killer, and especially Taken By Force were all crucial documents in the process of metal shedding the excesses of it’s seventies skin and becoming a sharper, more articulate beast. Notably, this was also the last time Uli Jon Roth would adorn the band’s music with his Hendrix-like guitar prowess.

All of which means Tokyo Tapes is not only a consolidation but also a clear dividing line in the band’s sound. From here their style would become sharply harder, more compact and tight, which would earn them the major commercial success they’d thus far been denied. The good news is in their earlier guise, the band still had major music to offer, much of the best of it appearing here in the always higher intensity concert environment. “All Night Long,“ a previously unrecorded and damn good number opens matters, which include such seminal cuts as “In Trance,” “We’ll Burn The Sky” (awesome tune, man, one of the band’s greatest slow building epics) “Dark lady,” “Steamrock Fever,” and the clearly forward looking aggressive riffing of “He’s A Woman, She’s A Man.” Even a proggy and misty oldie like “Fly To The Rainbow” sounds great here, and the pairing of the band’s tight playing and Roth’s loose, acidic guitar style is a wonderful thing to behold. The only real downside is the few songs Roth sings. As I’ve noted before, he possesses one of the world’s most irritating and toneless styles in history (notice how his guitar work “Polar Nights” is amazing, and how things change the second he opens his off-key yap). That aside, Tokyo Tapes is a fun and historically valid album that proves an important point. As far as metal was concerned both the Scorpions as players and the Japanese as fans were all way ahead of their time.

Scorps At Their Uli Roth Finest - 100%

gunnarvl, April 19th, 2006

This album dates back to 1978, quite some time ago. I originally purchased it on LP and literally wore the record out.

Tokyo Tapes is one terrific slab of metal made before the Scorpions went huge in the USA with a slicker, more commercial sound. Featuring the legendary Ulrich Roth, his playing is incendiary throughout. I was blown away by the live renditions of these classic Scorps tunes because Uli added so much to the lead breaks, compared to the studio versions. His playing on "Robot Man" in particular is mind blowing. The sounds that come out of his guitar are truly amazing.

There is not a weak moment on this CD, although I personally would have loved hearing "Catch Your Train" performed live, because that song features perhaps Ulrich's greatest Scorps lead solo ever, (a precursor to the playing of Randy Rhodes), as opposed to the two Elvis tunes on the CD. But again, talk about a complete album with no weak spots. It's all here, "Pictured Life", "We'll Burn the Sky", "Speedy's Coming", "Backstage Queen", "He's A Woman, She's A Man", 18 songs in total on my CD, and "Polar Nights" is included on the two disc version I own.

While the band's style changed considerably on all the albums that came after Tokyo Tapes, one must acknowledge that over a near 35 year career, there are bound to be changes. Tokyo Tapes shows the Scorps at their peak form, playing a very European style of metal at the conclusion of the first phase of their glorious career.