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Metal/Prog Metal CD Reviews

Scorpions

Animal Magnetism

Review by Greg Olma

The Scorpions never really managed to make a dent in the American market until 1979’s Lovedrive.  Once they were able to tour the US, and the NWOBHM hit, the stars started to align for their path to success. It would still take a little time before they hit the big time with Blackout, but this often overlooked gem took them a little closer to stardom.  Released in 1980, the band were really starting to hit their stride with catchy German metal tunes along with radio friendly lyrics and subject matter.  The band were abandoning their earlier sound with songs like "The Sails of Charon" and focusing more on what American audiences would want.  Although this is as solid a record as anything from their catalogue, many people skip over it even though the record contains a track that has probably been played at every one of their concerts since 1980 (I’ll get to that later in the song by song section of this review).  I was happy that this record did get a little recognition in 2008 when the title track was included in the film The Wrestler.  Four decades on, this album still holds up as one of their finer releases, and if you missed it first time around, check it out now.  It has aged well compared to some of their other material.


This review is available in book (paperback and hardcover) form in Music Street Journal: 2020  Volume 6. More information and purchase links can be found at: garyhillauthor.com/Music-Street-Journal-2020.

Track by Track Review
Make It Real
The album starts off with a catchy, radio friendly hit (at least in Europe).  There is some simple riffing that reminds me of “the Zoo,” but overall, the track has a couple of different parts that make it unique sounding.  They incorporate a heavy bridge that is a nice intro for the guitar solo.
Don’t Make No Promises (Your Body Can’t Keep)
Things speed up a bit for this cut which goes back and forth between being a fast rocker on the choruses and a mid-paced groove for the verses.  The chorus is extremely catchy, and after hearing it once you’ll be humming it the rest of the day.
Hold Me Tight
This is a great moody piece that has a cool chorus but the title is misleading when compared to the rest of the lyrics.  Whenever I hear this track, it always gives me a sense of grittiness and a dark urban backdrop.  The sign of a good track is one that evokes an emotion, and this one certainly gives me a sense of foreboding.  For me, this is definitely a highlight on this album.
Twentieth Century Man
I like how the band manages to bounce back from the previous track by delivering an upbeat rocker.  The opening riff is simple but effective, and the rest of the tune has a lighter feel.  The chorus is also really catchy, and I feel this could have been a hit for them given the right amount of push from the record company.
Lady Starlight
No one does power ballads like the Scorpions, and they were doing it way before any other metal band.  Clocking in at over six minutes, this is quite a departure from the rest of the record.  It has a string section that I believe is a first for the band, but don’t let that dissuade you from checking it out.  There is some great guitar solo work at the end that lifts it past the cheesy power ballad label.  Also, this track is the perfect showcase for Klaus Meine’s vocals as he really shines here.
Falling In Love
Like the rest of the material on offer here, the riffs are simple but super catchy and effective.  Just to prove that each member is essential, this cut was written solely by Herman Rarebell and it is another highlight on this great disc.  The beginning has a bit of a Van Halen vibe, but then it quickly shifts into the Scorpions sound with a nice groove for the chorus.
Only A Man
The beginning of this tune starts with some acappella vocals from Meine but quickly transforms into a hard rocker with heavy riffing and guitar solos.  The track struts along with a lot of attitude and, while not really hit single material, this is the type of Scorpions song that made me a fan.
The Zoo
If you have been to a Scorpions concert since 1980, you have seen them perform this song as it is the most popular track off the record.  I really liked it back in the day, but now I find it a bit repetitive and quite honestly, it is the weakest song here.  I can see where it could be an arena ready favorite and that may have been the motivation for writing such a tune.  While I don’t skip it when playing the album, it isn’t one I would go back to on its own.
Animal Magnetism
Things start off with random sounds before it is cut by this really distorted guitar riff.  As the song progresses, it has a droning riff that is almost mesmerizing, and the music matches the lyrics perfectly.  If you have seen The Wrestler, then you know that the music “makes” that scene.
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