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Non-Prog CD Reviews

Herman Ze German

Take It As It Comes

Review by Mike Korn

The Blitzkrieg is back! Herman is none other than Herman Rarebell, long-time drummer of The Scorpions, who left the Teutonic Terrors some time ago to forge his own rock n' roll path. Listening to "Take It As It Comes,” it's easy to see why he left The Scorps. Whereas they were definitely melodic metal, Herman Ze German is more pure rock n' roll, featuring such touches as harmonica, saxophone as well as an all-around bluesier approach.

Though most of the album is definitely hard rock, there's still a kind of laid back feel to it. Most of the vocals are handled by Stephen Erz, but Rarebell himself adds some grumbly tones now and then as well as his trademark drums. There's enough variety in the songs to keep you interested. While I wasn't blown away by Herman Ze German, Take It As It Comes is a fine album to play loud while screaming down the highway on a warm summer's day.

Take It As It Comes: That bluesy feel I spoke of is immediately apparent with this catchy rocker. Rarebell handles the lead vocals here himself and it's easy to see why Klaus Meine was the lead singer of the Scorpions, not him. The chorus is amazingly memorable and designed to sing along with, while the lyrics are inspirational. Watch out for Claudia Raab's strong saxophone work, which is a trademark on the album.

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2010  Volume 4 at lulu.com/strangesound.

Track by Track Review
Don't Lose Your Trust

This has got a real strong early AC/DC feel, which Stephen Erz's nasal vocals do nothing to discourage. It's a gritty no-frills tune that's stripped down to the basics.

Rough Job
Dedicated to the girls of the phone sex racket, this bounces along with a funky blues feel and semi-rapped vocals. The sexy sax tones fit this to a T and it seems that Rarebell prefers sax solos to guitar. The sampled sex sounds leave no doubt as to what the lyrics are about.
Let Me Rock You
Could there be a more cliched song title? As overly familiar as this sounds, the fast and driving riffs conjure up visions of AC/DC crossed with something more commercial like Black Crowes. You can really hear Rarebell's drums banging away big time on this one.
Your Love Is Hurting
If you thought the last song was cliched, it sounds avant-garde next to this 80's power ballad, which even Rarebell admits in the liner notes "will make you pull out your lighter and wave it high.” I guess that will be a thrill if you like this gooey stuff, but it's not my cup of tea.
Freak Show
Now this tune proves the band can do more than regurgitate classic rock tropes. This is a very cool song with a kind of psychedelic, modern sound and a subdued opening, almost like Soundgarden. When the song heavies up, it does so with the fattest riffs of the album and one of the catchiest choruses. The lyrics deal with the stupidity of reality TV, a subject ripe for skewering. I'd call this the best tune on show.
Heya Heya
This is a pretty weird song based on a real clichéd American Indian drum beat and chant. The Hammond organ comes in pretty strong here and Rarebell's back on vocals. It sounds like kids are singing along with that simple "Heya, heya" chorus. The song is catchy in a dopey kind of way but sounds like it could have been written in less than a minute.
Backattack
Here's a catchy straightforward rocker given extra spice with some raw bluesy harmonica. Another memorable chorus is provided and Erz's vocals sound a little smoother than usual. Some great jamming guitar tops things off.
Rock You Like A Hurricane
Yes, it's Rarebell's take on The Scorpions' classic, but true to his word in the liner notes, it changes the original quite a bit.  It has an almost industrial twist on those classic riffs, adding synthesizer, and it sounds pretty cool. What I don't like are Rarebell's half-rapped, half-mumbled vocals that just plain don't have the quality you'd expect, especially in the wake of Klaus Meine. However, that chorus remains as awesomely powerful as ever. The saxophone also makes an unexpected appearance. It's an intriguing take but not perfect by any stretch.
Wipe Out
This is a straightforward hard rock cover of the hoary old surf-rock instrumental. Rarebell gets a chance to show off his powerful drumming here, but it's not anything too special.
Drum Dance
An instrumental showcase for Rarebell's drumming, this is not just a drum solo but mixes in some tasty hard riffs to help move the song along. Rarebell seems to prefer creating a strong rhythm to just beating away with technical chops. Raab's saxophone again plays a strong role, giving an almost disco feel to parts, but I don't mean that in a bad way. This one will stick in your head.
I'm Back
This has a very laid back country rock feeling to it almost like Jackson Browne or John Mellencamp. There's a "na na, na na" type chorus and while the song is not quite a ballad, it has a real relaxed classic rock feel to it, especially with the acoustic guitar soloing.
Your Love Is Hurting (Radio Edit)
The differences between this and the earlier version are noticeable but negligible and I can think of no good reason for this to be included here.
 
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