Review Summary: Scorpions cross the threshold of their glorious and lucrative years with a rather sloppy album highlighted only by a few songs.
Ahh, the 80’s. A period of time in which the human race witnessed a great social, cultural and economic change. Amongst other many important incidents, political or non-political, the 80’s are also being remembered for the technological advancements that occurred. However, the erupted technology wasn’t the only instance. Something else erupted too. What went through the roof during the 80’s was Rock ‘n’ Roll music. In a nostalgic discussion, people who lived in these times, will describe that decade as a hell of a big party. Younger rockers like myself who didn’t live to tell what these years looked like, tend to believe that the 80’s were just a good time to be a teenager. And why not ? Rock music became the dominant genre of that decade. Sure, Pop icons like Madonna and Michael Jackson emerged and conquered the world, but Rock music after 2 decades of obscurity became mainstream and the bands were filling huge stages and scoring the highest positions in the music charts. The year 1980 was probably the most prominent due to the fact that a lot of great albums were released. Scorpions also recorded, but their seventh album entitled Animal Magnetism
doesn’t belong with the rest of that year’s prominent releases.
Scorpions had their share of fame and fortune in the 80’s. The last year’s lovedrive
, found the Germans commercializing their sound. In their struggle to become rich and famous, the band had parted ways with Uli Roth and as a replacement they hired Matthias Jabs. By that time, the recordings of Lovedrive
had already began with Michael Schenker briefly returning to play the role of the lead guitarist. The result was an excellent album which combined commercial appeal and Scorpions’s last traits of experimentation. It seemed that for the first time in their careers, Scorpions had the knowledge of what they wanted to pursue and where they had to aim for. But things eventually came out entirely different with Animal Magnetism
The second effort of the classic Scorpions line up, exhibits the recipe of the songwriting that was used for Lovedrive
. Nonetheless, this time around, the band cease every effort that would seem as “adventurous” and trying to replicate the success of the previous album. At that point, Scorpions made a fatal mistake, the exact same mistake that Judas Priest did with the next year’s Point of Entry
. They did not interpret correctly the reasons for which Lovedrive
became their most successful album to date. They believed writing hits would be the answer and they fell for it. Probably they didn’t realize that Lovedrive
had actually some well written music
on it. I don’t blame them for that because with their new direction, the Germans perceive their opportunity and took full advantage of it. In other words, Scorpions saw the pot of honey and they licked it clean.
As a result of that mistake, the final recordings revealed an album that was all in all disappointing when compared to its predecessor. But there is also something else. In Animal Magnetism
a weird sense of disorientation is exhaled from the beginning to the end. As if Scorpions new what to do but they were not sure exactly how to put it on this record. Although classic songs such as The Zoo
, Make it Real
and Lady Starlight
are included within this collection, the lack of inspiration that is embedded in the rest of the set will leave you unsatisfied. The settled down guitarist duo (Schenker-Jabs), are trying to do their best and salvage what they can. Their contribution is enough to save this record from being a disaster as they both manage to come up with some crunchy, solid guitar riffs and two or three reasonable solos. Francis Buchholz is also in good shape, delivering basic lines and doing his fair share in the rhythmic section. The downfalls of this record are Klaus Meine and Herman Rarebell. For the first time after their debut, one of the bands most valuable instruments is muted. Meine, who acts as a negative surprise, sounds really bored and by failing to bring forward his excellent vocal performances, he is completely overshadowed by the other members of the band. In fact, I think this is the only time in Scorpions’s golden age that Meine underperforms. Meine’s poor performance results in a domino effect, a chain reaction that affects the group. More generally, there is a lack of energy and punch and that is apparently affecting Rarebell’s drumming which is less exciting than on Lovedrive
The positives of this lackluster album are just the contained classic hits. Although it is fair to say that the really stand out track is Lady Starlight
- one of the bands best ballads. It is a relieving fact that Scorpions never lost their touch for writing emotionally-affective power ballads and even in a second-rate album such as this, they manage to live up to this reputation. Finally, we have what I would call an anormality of a track. The title song is very unusual for a band like Scorpions. With a doomy droning riff and the dramatic structure, this song is flirting with the Doom Metal genre. As funny or peculiar this may sound like, this song is not like anything you have heard from this band before or since. Nothing more and nothing less than just another sign, reasoning the group’s lost sense of direction.
Although not being bad or very dull, Animal Magnetism
is not the culmination that its creators expected it to be. Being often sandwitched between Lovedrive
, this album is missing a lot and it’s certainly not a highlight in Scorpions’s discography. Thankfully, it was proven to be just a small break. The next year’s release was a completely different story.
Make it Real