Oh no not The Scorpions! Well, like so many bands that changed for the worse, once there was a vein of magic that ran through them even if it was simply in the guitar tones and the mood of the Rock music they made. There was some kind of dark sticky fluid that mixed with electricity, created rivers of churning muddy waters, galloping down the Leine towards the Rhine, Ruhr and Saar valleys – Germany in the early seventies was the place to be.
The album is loaded with dynamic instrumental sections, blistering guitars that brought together the Schenker brothers Rudolph and Michael for this one album before Michael left to join UFO (he rejoined briefly for Lovedrive and left again soon after). If it’s Klaus Meine’s up front hi-wailing that bothers you, well there’s nowhere to hear it less than on this album. The opener I’m Goin’ Mad is a series of Ah’s and spoken word with a mid-tempo rhythm, engaging riffs and lead flurries like a cold winter November hillside outside Hanover.
Second track It All Depends sounds like Black Sabbath but with two guitar players and a busy rhythm section of original drummer Wolfgang Dziony and bassist Lothar Heimberg (both also gone by the second album Fly To The Rainbow). Again more instrumental sections than vocal parts as the music takes centre stage, Meine occasionally screaming in the shadows.
Leave Me has that classic spooky early seventies Rock sound where Meine’s distinctive voice in reverb has you wondering if the song is the soundtrack to a naked pagan festival. Jimmy Page like guitar lines take over as the misty mood of the backing is spotted with high pitched squealing as strings are pushed against pick ups or neck to create an eerie effect – and then the solos start and the Uriah Heep backing vocals appear. It’s a journey through the villages of Heavy Rock witchcraft, the puritans quaking in their boots.
Harmony leads start the slightly clumsily titled In Search For The Peace Of Mind, into acoustic guitars and a more pastoral sound, the village market buzzing with Scorpion members not looking out of place in a medieval surrounding. Again the vocals seem rather like a background idea as if the singer was a necessary evil, something to put between the guitar parts. But then he’s back with that familiar scream but I don’t mind because it’s in the sound of the band where the power lies.
Inheritance is a classic early seventies sound, bass and guitars dominate in between vocals, shredding with tone, that fast metal nonsense not yet brought into the world. Floydy eeriness in the middle of the song or Arthur Brown or something from the English sixties spilled into a German middle eight.
Action’s Jazzy bass and accompanying guitar sound like an early Golden Earring as if Kooymans and Gerritsen are on loan. Again tone filled soloing guitars dominate the need for vocals in the song as if the roles have been reversed.
The final song is the 13 minute title track and the pattern continues of favouring the guitars, the vocals incidental or used as an effect. It’s a rather confused piece but that’s why I like it, unsure where it’s heading and rather unpredictable for its style. Moody instrumentation with a melodic bass line and Klaus is still at it but more like an unleashed preacher, suddenly screaming at the altar as the guitarists fly over the pulpit, scaring the congregation (of course in those days, long haired Germans with loud guitars were rebels). After mad soloing they calm down eventually and find themselves in the blackness of space and suddenly transported again into grounded uptempo bass and drums, noodling from another room or another galaxy, still in their space helmets as the rhythm section happily practice in Lother’s front room in Hanover. The journey stops and starts with incoherent flow and seems like a bunch of random ideas spliced together by an adventurous Conny Plank. But for me it’s these non-sensical casual jams that work the best – no one really knows where the next bus stops or where it’s going.
It’s the kind of record you can’t make anymore. Someone would have you explain your idea, have you justify it, organize it, cut parts out, tell you you can’t do this. Where’s the song? Missing the point completely, not understanding that the best bands don’t make records for the onlookers, for the outsiders or for the public, they make them for themselves because they like them. They aren’t to be compared, other bands don’t matter, other people’s success or work irrelevant, this is living and breathing on your own. Still, this band became one of the biggest bands in the world, selling 100 million albums as they became less interesting and more popular, aware of every bus stop and their destination. Tragic really.