Lovedrive

Scorpions

Mercury Records, 1979

http://www.the-scorpions.com/

REVIEW BY: Jason Warburg

ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED: 06/16/2006

This is another one of those albums that works like a time machine for me. Four chords in and it's 1979 again and oh God is that really *all* my hair?

But I digress. The Scorpions were formed in Hannover, Germany in 1969 by guitarist/vocalist Rudolf Schenker, who shed the band's entire first lineup before they ever recorded, forming a new band around the core of lead singer Klaus Meine and, on lead guitar, Rudolf's brother Michael. After the Scorpions' debut album Lonesome Crow, Michael Schenker departed to gain fame as lead axeman for UFO, and was replaced by Uli Jon Roth.

The Scorpions' early sound took its cues from hard rock contemporaries like Deep Purple and Black Sabbath, using their twin-guitar attack to construct a barrage of monster riffs and screechy vocals that was full of energy, if a little short on finesse. They experienced moderate success through four albums, but never seemed to hit on all cylinders.my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

That all changed with Lovedrive. As fate would have it, Roth departed the Scorpions at almost the same time Michael Schenker left UFO, leading to Michael being recruited back into the fold on a temporary basis. Lovedrive features Michael sharing guitar duties with brother Rudolf and the band's new lead guitarist -- still with them today -- Matthias Jabs. At the same time, the band elected to go in a more melodic direction, taking the hint from the successful arena rock bands of the day that The Killer Riff goes down easier paired with a singalong chorus and slicker production. They were still a lot closer to AC/DC than Journey, but on Lovedrive, the Scorpions delivered heavy music that dares to be hummable.

Nowhere is that truer than on the title track, whose brilliant chorus melody and sizzling solos put it up there among the era's neglected classics. "Loving You Sunday Morning" is nearly its equal, a rocker full of stellar riffs that convey a kind of languid intensity that's perfect for the lyric. "Can't Get Enough," as obvious as it is, explodes with undeniable energy. "Another Piece Of Meat" is maybe the one place where the boys go right on over the top into Bon Scott territory with the lyric, but Michael's leads are muscular, fiery and damn near unstoppable.

Of note here also is the inclusion of one of the band's best ballads, the stately, often soaring "Holiday." The Scorps would go on to have several hits in the same power-ballad vein, but none with the creative atmospherics of this one's extended outro. A final highlight is the instrumental "Coast To Coast," a pure showcase for the Schenker brothers that stands among the best of its genre.

Two mid-tempo cuts ("Always Somewhere" and "Is There Anybody There?") don't quite live up to the rest of the album, and there are places where the band's sometimes-tenuous grasp on the English language leaves the lyrics feeling slightly off-kilter. But these are minor quibbles on a superb album.

(Sidebar: The cover seen here was banned in the US and replaced with one featuring a drawing of a steely-looking Scorpion perched on top of the band's logo. What can I say, I live in a country where SUVs are a birthright and breasts are dirty. It's a mad, mad, mad, mad world.)

Lovedrive was the album that pointed the Scorpions in the musical direction they've successfully pursued ever since, and a highlight of a career that's been successful in many more ways than simply outlasting my hairstyle.

Rating: A-

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© 2006 Jason Warburg and The Daily Vault. All rights reserved. Review or any portion may not be reproduced without written permission. Cover art is the intellectual property of Mercury Records, and is used for informational purposes only.