October 26, 2015 Scorpions – Return to Forever (Album Review)
One has to be a very special sort of band to celebrate fifty years in the business, and Germany’s Scorpions are just such a band. Formed in 1965 by Guitarist Rudolf Schenker, the band has compiled a historic career of seventeen studio albums, endless touring, huge radio hits, and now in 2015 release their eighteenth overall studio record, Return to Forever. An compelling collection of songs, Return to Forever is a mix of previously unreleased tracks and new songs written as far back as the early 1980s to as recent as 2014. While their greatest successes between the time of 1978 and 1992, the band still remain one of the biggest influences in Rock-n-Roll, and one of the biggest German bands ever to grace the planet.
While members came and went through their career, the lineup has remained unchanged since 2004, with Schenker being joined by Vocalist Klaus Meine, who joined in 1969, Guitarist Matthias Jabs, who has been in the lineup since 1978 when Uli Jon Roth left, James Kottak on drums since 1996 , and the most recent addition was Pawel Maciwoda on bass, who took over duties in 2004. Most noted for their huge hits like “Rock You Like a Hurricane” and “Winds of Change,” Scorpions’ career goes much deeper, and Return to Forever is the perfect glimpse into unheard, buried treasures.
The distinctive sounds of Meine’s voice has not faded over the years, as is evident with opening track, “Going Out with a Bang,” which is a real crowd pleaser of a tune. Rocking hard and heavy, it is difficult to imagine he and Schenker are now sixty-seven years old, but thankfully, are still going strong. A powerful chorus defines “We Built This House,” a song that pays tribute to the longevity of the band, and how it has weathered all storms along the way. Then there is “Rock My Car,” which is a balls out Rock-n-Roll double entendre of a song with big riffs and thunderous drums, full of fun and vigour. By contrast, “House of Cards” is a delicate wistful ballad of love turning to hate, gentle acoustic guitar picking out the chords, something that the Scorpions have always excelled at.
Moving right along, “All for One” is about being there for each other in a band, the fun and the camaraderie that exists. It shows bandmates become brothers of the road, while the song “Rock ‘n’ Roll Band” tells it like it is in a fast paced and relentless fashion. The happy go lucky “Catch Your Luck and Play,” is bright with lively melodies and a huge, catchy chorus. This comes before “Rollin’ Home,” which is full of rich harmonies with the crowd participation from live shows. Meanwhile, “Hard Rockin’ the Place” is the dirty, darker side, with gritty guitar riffs. Showing more diversity, “Eye of the Storm” is another gentle, acoustic ballad, dreaming of home and those loved ones that wait for them there. Bringing on sex appeal, “The Scratch” has some wonderful elements, and a touch of innuendo without becoming cheesy, while the slower, more mournful “Gypsy Life” is more of a lament about life on the road as a band.
On the US deluxe edition, there are seven additional tracks for fans to enjoy. The begin with “The World We Used to Know,” which taps into social issues and reminisces on times when things were better, and not worrying about the economic climate and politics that affect the world today. Ready to get crowds going in a live arena, “Dancing With the Moonlight” is a rhythmic whirlwind, even though it is about a plane ride that went wrong. With its beefy guitar riffs, “When the Truth is A Lie” is a tale of love gone bad,and the mixing of electric and acoustic guitar really works well for this track. Evening out the heaviness, “Who We Are” is another acoustic piece which is an emotional ride, mystical and ethereal. This is right before Scorpions pick up the pace once more on “Crazy Ride,” which tells the story of the journey over fifty years, from swinging ’60s to now, summing up the life they have lived thanks to music. Winding down the bonus material, “One and One is Three” is a political statement, about standing up for what you believe in, and lastly, “Delirious” is a seductive tune about a woman, dangerous and tempting.
Return to Forever is classic Scorpions. They have come up with an album that oozes 1980s and it is just what their fans want from them. The soaring guitars, Meine’s accent cutting through; it will take the listener right back to when Rock was king, beautifully nostalgic. There are a lot of songs here about what it means to be a band on the road and missing people back home, but when one are a band who tour the world for fifty years, it is bound to influence their lyrics. Some of these songs were formed at a time they had announced they were retiring, back in 2010, something they later decided against as they were inspired to write new tracks instead. Return to Forever does not break new ground, but it certainly proves the Scorpions have a lot of life left in them and they are not ready to hang up the guitars just yet. CrypticRock gives this album 4.5 stars out of 5.