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Scorpions Month I: Brilliantly executed rock music - 95%

Empyreal, December 4th, 2009

Hello ladies and germs, and welcome to a month-long reviewing odyssey project of mine that I like to call December is for Scorpions. I’ve got a lot of Scorpions albums to review, some of them good and some of them bad, and hopefully this month will clear up any doubts as to my opinions about this band. As if any of you care.

Doesn’t everyone just love Scorpions? I don’t mean the insectile beasts that sting with their ferocious bite or the Spider-Man villain, but rather the great 70s and 80s rock group that rocked the world with their smooth hooks and catchy tunes. People mostly know them for their later material where they sold their souls for money, but what those poor fools are missing out on is the brilliance of the material when Uli Jon Roth was handling the lead guitar duties. And as such…Virgin Killer.

Virgin Killer is just a milestone. In every sense of the word, it wows the listener with a fresh, rocking sound and an all around tighter musical base. It lacks the psychedelic noodling that I loved on In Trance, but the songs are catchier, more polished and Klaus Meine’s vocals are the best they’d ever get in the 70s. His light, attitude-filled crooning sails deftly over the crisp guitar riffs and energetic drumming. This whole album is just really tailored to perfection all around. The songs are short and manageable and the hooks are as sticky as Gorilla Glue stuck to a strip of Velcro.

And did I mention how innovative some of this was for the 70s? It’s just the all around fresh, tight style of the songwriting. Judas Priest were also innovating the rock world at the same time, but they did it a bit differently, mostly making it heavier and a bit darker, more maverick-like. But Scorpions took a hard rockin’ good time and added outside elements and songwriting finesse previously unknown to man. The first few tracks are straightforward but really good, with “Pictured Life” being a rumbling, groovy rough-n’-tumble rocker and “Catch Your Train” boasting the best chorus the band ever wrote. The pristine “In Your Park” is sappy, but also pretty genuine, holding an innocence that later bands wouldn’t always be able to capture – even Scorpions themselves in the future.

“Backstage Queen” is more hook-mastery, and the throaty title track has riffs that could be said to have originated Thrash – but really, that debate could go on for hours, and my reviews are already long enough.

Then the weird shit starts, as if the drugs had just begun to kick in, somewhere on the edge of the desert. What’s this? An upbeat rock tune with rapped vocals from the 70s? Color me surprised; it is! A lot of people cite Uli Roth’s raspy, strained wail as a detriment to this, but I do not mind it at all. He sings with energy, conviction and honesty, and he goes with the generally excited feel of the whole work.

“Crying Days” has archaic, wandering leads blended with almost proggy vocal lines – certainly not the drugged out fuzz of In Trance by a long shot! “Polar Nights” is more adventurous, ball-busting creativity, with some great riffs and tempo changes, and the somber “Yellow Raven” is soft and delicate, closing the album with class. If the beginning of the album was the equivalent of a pretty girl opening her legs and giggling voluptuously, the end is more like the same woman putting on a nice dress and going out with you for a night in Vegas.

So that’s Virgin Killer. It is aptly named, as its innovative curiosity and adventurous nature surely popped the cherries of a number of rock music’s untreaded grounds. This is the best album Scorpions ever put out, just an all around classy, fun album. It’s got everything enjoyable in music, from creativity to enjoyability. If you don’t know this, what are you waiting for? Catch your train tonight.