by Mark Allen
Staff Writer –
Back in 2010, Scorpions fans were stung by the announcement that Sting in the Tail would be the band’s final album, the accompanying tour the band’s farewell. As a swan song, the album expertly captured all the elements that made the Scorps a hard rock success story. But even as the accolades accumulated and the farewell tour unfurled, fans started fervently hoping the band would one day make a comeback.
Well, the Scorpions didn’t exactly make a comeback, they made Comeblack, a re-recording of seven of their biggest hits combined with a half-dozen cover tunes culled from bands that influenced them. Was anyone really clamoring for this kind of album? Probably not. But since nobody expected to hear anything from the Scorps again, this should be chalked up as a welcome surprise, a little treat for the fans as the band rides off into the heavy metal sunset. There is no denying it’s more novelty than treasure, but if you were a beggar expecting no one to give you any money and then out of the blue someone handed you a ten bucks, would you complain you only got a ten-spot instead of a grand? Same principle applies here.
The beggar metaphor should not make you misjudge this release as nothing more than sonic scraps, because as far as novelty albums go, this is quality stuff. Re-recording their own classics is always tricky territory for a band; sometimes it works out okay (Firehouse and Whitecross come to mind) and other times it misfires like a musket with wet powder (looking at you, L.A. Guns).
The Scorpions get it right. The updated songs feature better enunciation from Meine and the crisper production available via modern technology enhances the tracks with extra beef and bite. The band also avoids the pitfall of messing with the song structures. Casual fans will be hard pressed to decipher any differences in the arrangements, though diehards who have spun the tunes two or three million times may pick out subtle alterations and understated nuances. But for the most part, “Rock You Like a Hurricane” still sounds like the kick ass anthem it has always been, “No One Like You” still rips with one of the best riffs to come out of the ‘80s, and “Wind of Change” still features that annoying whistling.
So the classics still sound like the classics, just with a production upgrade. Most likely it will be the cover tunes that arouse fan curiosity. Some choices are odd, some are inspired; “Tainted Love” is both. Any reservations about the Scorps tackling a whiny pop ditty will be instantly quelled when you hear how well they have rocked it up. Same goes for “Tin Soldier;” not an obvious selection, but one that the band makes work. “All Day and All of the Night” is an album highlight thanks to its driving, catchy, rocked up rhythm. Honestly, the Scorpions pretty much nail all the covers with the exception of The Beatles’ “Across the Universe,” which sucks so bad the word “suck” seems inadequate. You will not do any head-banging while that song plays, but you may very well do some head scratching.
Only time will tell if the Scorpions have truly tucked tail and called it quits—after all, how many farewell tours followed by reunion tours have Kiss or Ozzy done?—but even if they never return to the studio or stage, Comeblack is a nice little coda to their legacy. The modernized classics sound great and most of the covers hit the mark as well. It’s an unexpected parting gift to the fans who have been rocking like a hurricane with the band for over forty years now. If the Scorpions one day make a comeback, we will all say “thank you.” But even if Comeblack is the last thing we ever hear from the band, “thank you” is still the appropriate response.
Genre: Hard Rock
Rudolf Schenker (rhythm and lead guitars, backing vocals)
Klaus Meine (lead vocals)
Matthias Jabs (lead and rhythm guitars, backing vocals)
James Kottak (drums, backing vocals)
Pawel Maciwoda (bass, backing vocals)
1. Rhythm of Love
2. No One Like You
3. The Zoo
4. Rock You Like a Hurricane
6. Wind of Change
7. Still Loving You
8. Tainted Love
9. Children of the Revolution
10. Across the Universe
11. Tin Soldier
12. All Day and All of the Night
13. Ruby Tuesday
Label: Sony Legacy
Hardrock Haven rating: 8/10