Album ReviewsReviews

Something a Little Different From a Classic Band

scorpionsreturntoforevercdWhen I hear that a classic rock or metal band are releasing a new album, the first thing I seem to think is “I really hope this doesn’t suck.” I know, that’s awful, but the groups I love from the ’70s and ’80s haven’t exactly been hitting home runs with newer material in the past few years. That’s not to say that there aren’t any gems waiting to be found on these albums, but for the most part the only reason they are still touring (and selling tickets to the shows) is because of the older tunes that are still blasted on classic rock radio stations all over the world today. A band that I’ve always liked, but have never really listened to extensively, has just put out an album full of original tracks to celebrate their 50th year in the music business. I had my doubts, but I was very curious to have a listen.

I got the chance to see the Scorpions live once when I was about 12 or 13, sometime within the first couple of  years of the ’00s. It was a pretty impressive lineup, with Dio opening the show, the Scorpions taking the middle slot and the legendary Deep Purple closing the night out. Prior to this show, “Rock You Like A Hurricane” was the only song I had ever heard by the band, but the next day I went out and bought a “Greatest Hits” CD because I enjoyed their set so much. Like I said above, I have never been the biggest Scorpions fan, and outside of that one “Greatest Hits” disc, I’m not too familiar with their music. After having a listen to Return to Forever, I am convinced that I need to go back and listen to their earlier albums to hear the good stuff. This album wasn’t that bad, but compared to the songs I have heard from the guys, they seem to be going in an odd direction.

I’ll start with the bad just so I can end this review on a good note and hopefully convince you to give it a shot. The first song that made me wonder what I had gotten myself into was track number three, “Rock My Car.” I don’t know if they were just channeling their inner Sammy Hagar and writing a song about driving a car really fast, but this is no “I Can’t Drive 55.” This song is by far one of the cheesiest I’ve heard in quite some time. The guitar work isn’t bad, but the lyrics and overall feel of the track leave a lot to be desired. “All For One” is another that was just “blah.” This one is just uninteresting and didn’t really have any kind of hook that really drew me in. I guess this would be the perfect time to say the overall feel of the album is ’80s pop rock, these two songs fit in pretty good to that genre, but “Rollin’ Home” is one of those you could picture being the song that plays through the credits of a corny movie. The chorus is way too simple and has a melody that tries a little too hard to pull you in. I’ll stop there with the bad, now on to the positive!

The album opened up pretty strong with two songs that got my hopes up, which might have contributed to the disappointment I had with some of the tracks that followed. “Going Out With a Bang” opens the album up, and while it wasn’t full of ripping guitars or big drums like I expected, it was a solid rocker. The guitar riff floated somewhere between ’70s era AC/DC and Aerosmith, with a vocal melody that worked very well and was easy to sing-a-long to. When the next tune kicked in, though, I was pleased to hear a sound that dominated the groups classic hits. “We Built This House”Opens with a dueling guitar riff that made my ears perk up, the song then sunk into a slower verse with a clean guitar that helped build up to the distorted, catchy chorus that  dominated the song. Of course, you can’t expect a band like this to make an album without including a ballad. “Gypsy Life” doesn’t match up to classics like “Wind of Change” and “Still Loving You,” but this song is pretty contagious. The guitar work is incredible and the song flows very well, making this one a favorite of mine.

There are plenty more songs featured on this album besides the handful I just listed, some more of the not so good and some that will have you coming back for more. Ultimately, it’s up to the listener to decide how Return to Forever stacks up against the groups other albums. What I can tell you from my experience is that you will be getting a mix of a new, more poppy sound than the classic guitar driven, rocking sound from the band. No matter what you think, it’s pretty awesome that fifty years later, bands like the Scorpions are still getting the itch and creative spark to write new music. That fact alone should urge you to give this album at least one listen all the way through.

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