Review Summary: Progressive, ethereal and mystical, Fly To The Rainbow is a superb album and the first collaboration between Uli Roth and Scorpions.
By the time Scorpions had released their debut Lonesome Crow
in the early 70’s, they already had 7 years under their belt. Starting as an obscure Pop cover band and with Rudolf Schenker handling both the rhythm guitar and vocal duties, they wasted their first years covering pop songs. Things didn’t start coming together until 1970 when Schenker’s younger brother Michael and vocalist Klaus Meine joined the band. Their debut was released two years later and it was nothing their forthcoming material would sound like. Heavily influenced by Psychedelic Rock and Krautrock and with a little bit of Jazz to add to the mix, Lonesome Crow
derived from a band that focused on deep, dark, Sabbath-esque melodies with very few harmonic elements. During their tour, Scorps served as the opening act for a prominent and promising British outfit, UFO. Members of the band witnessed Michael Schenker’s playing and decided to invite him to the squad and acquire his services. Michael’s departure led to the breakup of Scorpions. Shortly afterwards, Rudolf gave a rebirth to the band, keeping only Meine from the previous line up. Jurgen Rosenthal took his place behind the drum kit and Francis Buchholz undertook Bass duties. Uli Roth filled in Michael’s position and the new line up recorded Fly To The Rainbow
Roth’s arrival marked the beginning of a fruitful period for him and for Scorpions alike. His advent provided the band with potential and a specific character. As for his amazing guitar playing abilities, it can only be said, that with Roth’s contribution the compositions were enriched to the maximum. However, on this album, his songwriting presence was confined due to Michael Schenker’s deal with his former band to “help” them with the songwriting of the new album before he departs. Schenker kept his part of the bargain and wrote three songs. So Fly To The Rainbow
is the only Scorpions album featuring those two great guitarists.
As a whole, this album can be scoped as a demonstration of the band’s mixed up influences. Even though they are still in search for a musical identity, it is on this album where Scorps begin slowly to establish their trademark Hard Rock sound while at the same time, they abolish their remaining Psychedelic musical remnants. Of course you can still spot some Psychedelic tendencies but the eerie elements are gone for the sake of a much stronger Bluesy Rock ‘N’ Roll vibe. With the opening song the listener is invited to meet the new, revitalised Scorpions: Speedy's Is Coming
is a fast and surprisingly straightforward Hard Rocking track and it’s the first and the last moment of this record where the band explore these safe and sound territories. As soon as it ends, the listener is fully exposed to the progressive side of Scorpions. And what a pleasure this side really is. Uli Roth’s style brings much more than any other guitarist who has served this band as a lead guitar player. At the time, Roth’s playing style was still based on the Blues and Minor Scales and his approach was somewhat different from the last two albums he recorded with Scorpions. Nevertheless, this depthless, one-dimentional method bestow a sad but beautiful and smooth melody to the songs, instantly conveying multiple emotional eruptions to the listener, which can only be a plus. His exceptional soloing is present in tracks such as: They Need A Million
, Drifting Sun
, This Is My Song
and Far Away
. Roth always likes to build some tension by using a combination of a wah pedal and an attack with his tremolo bar, so this specific style is also present here.
Another important aspect of this album are the acoustic parts. You’ll hear a lot of acoustic guitars on this record. From the Spanish-influenced They Need A Million
to the nine minutes epic title track, the acoustic guitars share a great deal from the entire record. Rudolf Schenker’s rhythm guitar playing is as solid as it ever was while the synchronization between Rosenthal’s drum beats and Buchholz’s bass lines provide the rest of the group with a durable and steady rhythm section. Klaus Meine has vastly improved his vocals but hasn’t reach yet his full potential.
Despite all the positives, the album leaves the listener with an overall impression of an inconclusive experience, short of any inherent musical characteristics. This is mainly because of Michael’s contribution in the songwriting, which is important and flawless but still, very different compared to Roth’s. The two great guitarists had their share on this album and the only logical conclusion is that things would inevitably get messy because their style of playing is different. To make things worse, the band was still trying to exorcise some habits of the past. So it makes sense as to why this album lacks character and a specific direction. But don’t let yourself down by this clue; Fly To The Rainbow
is an excellent album, an important documentation of Scorpions’s on going global domination and a must-have for every fan of 70’s Hard Rock. The band displayed only sheer improvement with the following year’s In Trance
Fly People Fly
This Is My Song
Fly To The Rainbow