Sunday, 5 October 2008

Scorpions - Lonesome Crow - Fly To The Rainbow

The veteran Teutonic rockers are rolling out for a short tour of the U.K this month and have enlisted former members Uli Jon Roth and Michael Schenker to join them. This gives me an opportunity to highlight two classics of their early back catalogue, which might have fallen off the critical radar for those of you, who only associate the band with the Berlin Wall toppling, lighter waving, corny whistling, cod rock Winds Of Change song.

The Scorpions go way back to 1965 when Rudolf Schenker started up the band in Hanover, Germany, influenced by Elvis Presley, The Beatles and the many British beat groups like The Yardbirds, Pretty Things and Spooky Tooth that followed in their wake; they served their apprenticeship delivering standard beat sounds.

By 1970, the group's line up had settled down with the addition, from the band Copernicus, of vocalist Klaus Meine and Rudolf's younger brother Michael, who had already estabilished his reputation, as a child prodigy on the guitar, with Cry (1968-1970) . The five piece were completed by Wolfgang Dziony (Drums) and Lothar Heimberg (Bass) together they made a debut album, which was issued only in Germany in 1972.

Lonesome Crow is regarded as a footnote in the Scorpions discography, as it's sound is far removed from the straight forward hard rock tunes, like Rock Me Like A Hurricane and Lovedrive, that gave the band such commercial and critical success in the later Seventies and Eighties. However, aficionado's of early Led Zeppelin and Black Sabbath and progressive psychedelic Krautrock bands, like Can and Neu, should be making a beeline for this fine example of the genre. The experimental fluidity of the tracks culminating in the thirteen minute epic title track gives room for Klaus Meine's operatic vocals to be stretched and complemented by the remarkable guitar workout from junior Schenker, who was sixteen when he recorded this, and bar some obvious Hendrix influences, delivers an incredible performance.

The album cover featured is the U.K Heavy Metal Worldwide re-release from 1982, which is preferable to the original cover, as it features Rodney Matthew's glorious artwork.

Lead Track Promo for I'm Going Mad 1972

In 1973 Michael left to join UFO, whom Scorpions had supported and led to the temporary break up of band, this must have created an interesting Sunday lunch atmosphere round at the Schenker family table for a while. Rudolph, however, didn’t let the grass grow beneath his feet and soon enlisted Uli Jon Roth, who had previously completed lead guitar duties on the UFO tour, so the Scorpions were back with a refreshed line up and went into the studio to record the second album.

Fly to the Rainbow, released in 1974, had a harder edge, with fewer excursions into the Krautrock experimentalism and wistful psychedelia of it’s predecessor. Uli’s soaring guitar antics were overtly following in the footsteps of Hendrix, yet his mastery of the lead guitar proved to be an exciting addition to the formula. Some tracks still retained a dreamy quality to them, notably on This Is My Song and the title track. In some ways, this is a more fully realised album than 'Lonesome Crow' with tighter, more disciplined song structures delivering more oomph to the mix.

If 'Fly to the Rainbow' straddled between the stoner and rocker Scorpions, the next album In Trance, defiantly set it’s stall out as a hard rock album and signalled the end of the musically more far out Scorpions and the beginning of the commercially successful outfit that went onto sell twenty million plus albums.

This Is My Song 1974

European Tour
October, 12th Newcastle Carling Academy U.K
October, 13th Glasgow Carling Academy U.K
October, 15th Manchester U.K Apollo
October, 16th Southampton Guildhall U.K
October, 18th London Hammersmith Apollo U.K
October, 19th Wolverhampton Civic Hall U.K
October, 25th Strasbourg Zenith France
November, 2ndTallinn Estonia
November, 4th Riga Latvia
November, 6th Vilnius Lithuania
November, 10th Yaroslavl Russia
November, 19th Estoril Portugal

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