By JAY ROBERTS
The Cassette Chronicles is a continuing series of mini reviews and reflections on albums from the 1980’s and 1990’s. The aim of this series is to highlight both known and underappreciated albums from rock, pop and metal genres from this time period through the cassette editions of their releases. Some of the albums I have known about and loved for years, while others are new to me and were music I’ve always wanted to hear. There will be some review analysis and my own personal stories about my connection with various albums. These opinions are strictly my own and do not reflect the views of anyone else at Limelight Magazine.
SCORPIONS – BLACKOUT (1982)
As I prepared to listen to this particular album from the Scorpions, I had to do some thinking. What I found after that little thought session was that despite the band’s 50 plus year career, there are really only two periods where I can truly say that I was a full-fledged member of the band’s fandom.
I know, it struck me funny as well! But I really didn’t get into the band until I heard “Rock You Like A Hurricane” from their Love At First Sting album. Add in the World Wide Live and Savage Amusement and you have the first era of my fandom. The second part comes from their most recent output, three out of their last four albums are releases that I’ve loved.
So it came as no small surprise when I realized that I’d never actually heard the full Blackout album before. Yes, of course I’ve heard the classic tracks that got airplay back in the day. But they all came after I’d gotten the Love At First Sting album in my blood.
The first time listening to this particular album did make for an interesting experience. I can see why the album eventually went platinum because two stone cold classics on the album with the title track cuts a blazing swath out of the speakers and is one of their more hard driving rockers. As for the song “No One Like You”, it struck me as the start of the more commercially accessible foundation the band perfected with their next two studio albums. It is a song that has over the decades become one of my all-time favorite songs from the Scorpions.
Of course, then came songs like the kicking rocker “Dynamite”, which is another song that I distinctly recall hearing at some point, though I couldn’t pinpoint exactly when. The song opens up side two in fiery fashion and is probably the one true standout track on that particular side as, and I know this might be a bit blasphemous for long time fans of the band, I didn’t really care for the last three songs “Arizona”, “China White” and “The Smoke Is Going Down”.
Well, I suppose that “The Smoke Is Going Down” isn’t all that bad, but by the time the seven minute exercise in boredom (to me anyway), a.k.a. “China White”, finished inflicting itself on my ears, it was hard to really appreciate the song on its own merits.
Of course, that was how the album ended but before that point, I got to hear “Can’t Live Without You”, which is another rocking track that I know I’ve heard over the years but can’t really place when I first heard it. I also got to discover the song “Now!”, a song that is one of the fastest tracks I can ever remember the band playing. And I loved how the vocal turn from Klaus Meine on this particular song saw him spewing out the lyrics in a rat-a-tat-tat style. It closed out side one of the album in a really fire up the adrenaline kind of way.
Now I know that the album is considered one of the band’s best albums so I was a little disheartened that I can’t say I feel the same way because of those closing three tracks. But for the songs that I did like, or rather loved, Blackout is a Scorpions album that I’m glad I finally got off my rear end and gave a full on listen to!
NOTES OF INTEREST: Klaus Meine lost his voice during the writing sessions for the album. According to the Internet Research Machine, the band reportedly used Don Dokken to sing the vocal tracks for the demos when it was unknown if Meine would regain his voice.
While Meine and Herman Rarebell are credited with writing or co-writing the lyrics for the album, guitarist Rudolf Schenker composed all the music. The guitar solo he plays on “China White” has two versions, one for the US release and one for the version of the album that was released in Europe.
When the band reissued a number of their albums in 2015 to coincide with their 50th anniversary as a group, the Blackout album contained four demos as bonus tracks.