Mercury Records, 1979
REVIEW BY: Christopher Thelen
ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED: 03/04/1998
Sometimes, as I wander the vast hallways of the Pierce Archives, it amazes me to see some of the artists who haven't had the chance to grace these pages yet... and I'm truly surprised that we don't get flame mail about some of the bands we haven't featured.
For some reason, this time through the Archives, I paused by the section where the German metal band Scorpions have taken residence... why not? They were a big force in metal's rise in popularity in the mid-'80s, and they're still slugging it out, though the spotlight doesn't shine as brightly on them. So, out cam their 1979 release Lovedrive, quite possibly the album that first got them prominently noticed. Either that, or I liked ogling the gum-covered breast of the woman on the cover... naaaahh.
The band that gave Michael Schenker his start got a surprise on this album - along with regular guitarists Rudolf Schenker and Matthias Jabs, Michael himself returned to contribute some guitar work to the album. Bassist Francis Buchholz and drummer Herman Rarebell might not have hopped into the forefront, but they provided a solid backbeat that kept this band going. And vocalist Klaus Meine was one of the more powerful but melodic vocalists the genre ever spawned.
Even today, almost 20 years since this album came out, there is quite a bit on the disc that is enjoyable. The opening track "Loving You Sunday Morning" is a great way to kick off the album, especially with the highlighting of harmony vocals on the choruses. The title track has lost little of its punch, while "Holiday" was proof that a metal band could do a ballad of sorts without turning into spineless wimps.
But in a sense, one wonders if Michael Schenker's presence was really necessary on Lovedrive - the other five members were more than capable of working their magic on their own. Songs like "Always Somewhere" and the instrumental "Coast To Coast" sound like they could have been UFO throwaways, never mind the fact that they were enjoyable. (I'm not sure which tracks Michael Schenker played on - the liner notes on my vinyl copy aren't that detailed.) I've said before that UFO was a band that wasn't sure if they wanted to be hard rock or progressive; at times, you can almost hear that kind of questioning in the music of The Scorpions. Fortunately, they choose hard rock/heavy metal.
One wonders today if anyone could get away with naming a song "Another Piece Of Meat," and it hardly represents the best work on Lovedrive, but it is somewhat interesting to hear it in the context of 1979 metal... even if it sounds out of place in 1998. For that matter, I don't remember the pictured cover being the one I most often saw in my metalhead days - I think enough people pitched a fit about the bare-breasted woman to scare the label into issuing a milder cover. (The original cover has since been reissued with the remixed CD.)
Lovedrive is an interesting picture of a band about to break into the mainstream, and the Scorpions handle the transition quite well. Maybe Love At First Sting made them superstars, maybe Blackout brought them their first real taste of success in America... but Lovedrive helped get us to know just who these five German rockers were, and that they were worth the time to check out. The same holds true today.