Lonesome Crow


Rampage Records, 1972


REVIEW BY: Christopher Thelen


Klaus Meine and the Scorpions hit it big in America in the early '80s, thanks to albums like Blackout and Love At First Sting. The surge in metal's popularity and the birth of MTV didn't hurt matters, either. But what many people probably didn't realize was that the Scorpions had been working on their success for a decade before they finally made it to the big time.

Their 1972 debut album, Lonesome Crow, is considered to be one of the tougher albums by the group to find. (It was re-released in 1989 on Rampage, a subsidiary of Rhino Records; that's the copy I stumbled upon in my weekly trip to the used record salon.) But if you expect to hear screaming guitars and power chords up the yin-yang on this one, you're in for one hell of a shock.

I can't verify this as truth (though the page I learned it from,The Scorpions Home Page, seems to be blessed by the band), but Lonesome Crow actually served as the soundtrack for a German film; shortly afterwards, the band broke up after a lackluster tour. With the roots of the band dating back to the mid-60s, one could understand the frustration felt after working so hard and making little progress.my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

Listening to this album for the first time, the words "heavy metal" were not what popped to mind as a descripiton of the Scorpions. Instead, words like "jazz" and "Focus" came into mind - "Focus" because songs like "I'm Goin' Mad" reminded me a little bit of the Dutch group's hit "Hocus Pocus", "jazz" because, well, the music sounds more jazzy than metal. I realize this was 1972, but it's not like crunching music didn't exist then.

Adding fuel to the jazz fire is the exceptional bass work of Lothar Heimberg, who lasted only one album with the group. Pity, as his work is some of the most exciting on Lonesome Crow, especially on the title track. Heimberg's work is technical without becoming either flamboyant or arrogant, something that's hard to do when one is talented on an instrument.

Michael (then spelled Michel) Schenker's guitar work is impressive, but sometimes it doesn't seem to fit the mood that the music is creating. Also, I kept waiting for him to just let loose with a six-string barrage, forgetting that not only wasn't the music of the Scorpions in that vein yet, but also that Schenker has never really been that kind of a guitarist.

One major disappointment in Lonesome Crow is that Meine is underused as a vocalist. Knowing now that the music on this album was originally meant for a film helps to explain things a little more, but Meine's vocals are so much a part of the Scorpions' sound that any lack of his presence is almost immediately felt. For that matter, Rudolf Schenker's rhythm guitar is hidden too far in the mix.

As for the music on Lonesome Crow, it suffices to say that it's not the band's best work - but it's also not bad considering the time period it was recorded in. Tracks like "In Search Of The Peace Of Mind", "Inheritance," "It All Depends" and the title track have the most bang for your musical dollar, though each of these tracks have weak moments as well. The other three songs on this one, unfortunately, are much weaker all around. "I'm Goin' Mad" just doesn't have the kind of punch one would have expected from this group, while "Leave Me" (which does have a killer intro sound) and "Action" both aren't as strong as some of the other cuts.

Lonesome Crow is still an interesting first snapshot of a band who would eventually gain superstardom - though it might have been hard to tell that they were headed that way if you first heard this when it was released. The diehard fans (at least those who don't have this one in their collections) will undoubtedly want to search out a copy, if only to complete their discography.

Rating: C+

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© 1999 Christopher Thelen 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 Rampage Records, and is used for informational purposes only.