This might not be your typical Scorpions song.
Most fans of the German rockers are familiar with hits like “Rock You Like A Hurricane,” “Big City Nights,” “Still Loving You” and “No One Like You.” The late 70’s to the 80’s, 90’s, 00’s…was when the band developed their signature heavy metal sound. There were however two other incarnations of the Scorpions. First with 16 year old guitar legend to be Michael Schenker. The second, featured guitarist Uli Jon Roth. Under Schenker for just one album, “Lonesome Crow,” the band had almost a psychedelic sound. The Roth era was somewhere in between this and their ultra-stylistic almost hair metal sound of the 80’s.
I don’t consider the Scorpions hair/glam metal for two reasons. They were heavy metal pioneers that all the crappy 80’s bands tried to emulate and moreover they wrote good music. Anyway, somewhere between being very young acid rockers and trend setting perfectors of the ‘Power Ballad’ mega-stars was the Uli Jon Roth years.
Heavy? Yes!…..Rockers? Totally! But what was their style?
The Scorps were very unique during this period. They were gaining in popularity, they were still under produced and very original. Roth is a great guitarist very spiritual and Hendrix-ish both terms that don’t always apply to heavy metal guitarists. But they were definitely heavy during these years.
The only way to really understand is to listen. Posted below is one of my favorite Roth era Scorpions songs, “Your Light.”
To me this song sums up the band in the early to mid 70’s. Some heavy-ness, some party feel, some hippie-ish feel and of course incredible guitar work. The song starts out heavy then immediately leads into to a funky dance vibe. But the song truly peaks on the two guitar solos. The first comes at 2:15 in the video. A slow Roth solo mostly reserved, with feeling and anthem-ish. The song then returns to the funky playful riff before the second solo. This is where Roth shows off a little more of his guitar acrobatics. It ends on a playful note as Roth solos into a fade out.
The Roth era Scorpions may be some of the truly under rated music in metal history. They were a little more free form in their songwriting than other bands and certainly then when they became a global commodity in the 80’s. Not always a good thing for massive consumption as most listeners seem to prefer produced cookie cutter bites. Most Scorpions fans have found their way back through the bands back catalog and found these gems. I strongly recommend you check these albums out as well especially if you are looking to uncover some truly quality and cool music.
For previous Scorpions posts.
For previous Michael Schenker posts.
A fellow blogger’s recent post on Uli Roth.
Hi Mike, love that you’re highlighting this great period of the Scorps. I think the run of albums they had with In Trance, Virgin Killer, Taken By Force and then Tokyo Tapes is the absolute peak of their career (although great albums followed). All are essential. Such a great mix of styles like you say and Uli’s guitar is phenomenal. Great post!
Thanks! I agree they definitely became more refined and popular, but these albums are incredible and original!