Eye II Eye
Koch Records, 1999
REVIEW BY: Christopher Thelen
ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED: 07/27/1999
While the '80s sent a lot of metal bands into the sphere of superstardom, one band that sticks out in my mind is the German group Scorpions. I vaguely remember them appearing on "American Bandstand" playing "Blackout," something that had to have had Dick Clark writhing in convulsions. I remember the popularity of their Love At First Sting album (as well as the flap over the cover art, where you could see the side profile of a woman's breast), as well as the popularity of the ensuing concert album World Wide Live.
Then, as quickly as their star rose, they seemed to drop off the face of the earth, following the popularity of their song "Winds Of Change". They spent a few years label-hopping, while several "best-of" packages were put out to satisfy the diehard fans that remained. I'll admit, I wasn't one of them; while I've spent some time acquiring the older albums lately, I hadn't made an attempt to complete my Scorpions collection in some time.
Now, Klaus Meine and crew are back with Eye II Eye, an album that embraces a newer, electronic sound as the backbone, instead of the dual guitar crunch of Rudolf Schenker and Matthias Jabs. It takes some time to get used to, but one listen to this album leaves no doubt that the Scorpions still know how to kick ass.
Meine sounds as good today with his vocals as he did on albums like Lovedrive all those years ago, and while I do occasionally long for the barre-chord crunch from Schenker and Jabs, they show often that they still know how to pump electricity through their guitar necks. Bassist Ralph Rieckermann and drummer James Kottak round out the crew.
Enlisting the assistance of producer Peter Wolf (ex-Frank Zappa keyboardist), the band sounds like they have new life breathed into them. Tracks like "Mysterious," the first single, is proof enough of that. Granted, if it's been a few years since you've really sat down to listen to the band, you're going to jump at first and yell, "What the hell's THAT?!?" Once you've reconciled the band's past to the present, though, the transition seems a lot more natural.
And, frankly, the Scorpions might understand something about metal's future by going to a more digital sound to the drums and the music - namely, that this could be a wave of the future. Kids, it's not a bad wave to catch. Songs like "Skywriter," "10 Light Years Away" and "Priscilla" (the latter the love-hate story about a man and the cockroach in his home) grab you with their catchiness and refuse to let go until the last note has faded from the speakers.
Eye II Eye still features some of the sexual braggadoccio that made up the '80s; as songs like "Freshly Squeezed" prove, some habits die hard. Even when the band resorts to singing in German (but for a few English raps) on "Du Bist So Schmutzig," it doesn't matter that you might not understand what Meine is singing, but that this song is incredibly catchy.
It took a lot of guts for a band whose metal roots were so developed to record and release an album like Eye II Eye - and for that, the fans of the Scorpions should be eternally grateful. This album proves that the group still has a lot of life in them musically, and I sincerely hope this is the springboard for a return to greatness for the Scorpions.