This rock may be rolling home after so many years of good service, but it still has A LOT to teach the world on how to make true Hard Rock.
50 years ago, in Germany, Rudolf Schenker, only 16 years old, decided to follow any school boy’s dream and formed a Rock N’ Roll band, the Scorpions. Schenker, alongside his band mates, put together awesome melodies and great lyrics, added a bunch of exciting backing vocals, touching powerful ballads, crazy guitar solos that made everyone want to be a rock star, and the formula for perfect Hard Rock was created. It turns out that half a century later, this magic formula still works and Scorpions are still one of the most important names of all times in Rock N’ Roll history.
Since Scorpions were formed, countless musicians have joined and left the band, but for the past 11 years the group has a strong line-up with Rudolf on lead guitar; Klaus Meine – who joined the band in 1969 and recorded every Scorpions’ album – on lead vocals; Matthias Jabs on rhythm guitar; James Kottak on drums; and Paweł Mąciwoda on bass guitar. In 2010, the band released Sting in the Tail, which was announced supposedly as the last album of their career. And we are glad they have changed their minds. In 2011 they were back to the studio to work on new material, and although 2014 was not an easy year for the band, with the arrest and period of rehab of Kottak, they rejoined forces to finish the album and the result is Return to Forever, a masterclass on how Hard Rock is supposed to be, released this year to mark the band’s 50th anniversary.
The album is available as a standard album, limited deluxe CD which contains four bonus songs, iTunes version with the same songs as the limited deluxe edition plus the song “Delirious”, double heavyweight vinyl and a limited edition collector’s box set. According to the band, the songs were written between the early 1980’s and 2014 and we can notice the changes and evolution of the musicality through the tracks. The album starts in a very thrilling way: the first song, Going On With A Bang, has a lot of influences of Blues but with a lot of Rock N’ Roll, and is one of the newest songs written for this album; then comes We Built This House, the first single for this album (check the video below). This song is very meaningful and tells the story of Scorpions, the ups and downs and everything they have learned along the way. This song is really touching and beautiful and has those classical backing vocals known on Scorpions work that make all of us, in the audience of their concerts, to sing it out loud together. Rock My Car is a very exciting song: written many years ago, it talks about driving fast on the famous German Autobahn highways. And this song carries all that high-speed feeling, with a breathtaking solo.
House Of Cards, the first ballad of the album, is very deep, exploring different levels of love, until it turns into hate and fades away. All For One is all about friendship and complicity the musicians find in each other to keep the band going on. The beginning of the next song, Rock ‘N’ Roll Band, sounds just like “I Can”, an old song by their German fellows of Helloween, but then the song gets its own shape and turns into a real Rock N’ Roll anthem. Klaus Meine wrote this song in the 1980’s and found the inspiration after visiting some clubs on Sunset Boulevard, in Los Angeles, so you can imagine the environment of sex, drugs and rock n’ roll he found back then.
Catch Your Luck And Play was originally written for the 1988 album Savage Amusement. Rudolf Schenker wrote a new chorus to this nice song, the kind all fans enjoy singing together with the band while clapping their hands tirelessly. Then we have Rollin’ Home, one of the best songs of the album, with great performances by all musicians – it is amazing to notice, for example, that after so many years Klaus’ voice has not changed a tone. But what is intriguing in this song is the message contained in it. It sounds like a good-bye, especially on the chorus (“Here we go! / This rock in rollin’ home”) that, again, has an amazing work on backing vocals. Hard Rockin’ The Place is another good example of Hard Rock, with an amazing riff.
Light up your lighters, or your cell phones, because Eye Of The Storm is the perfect song for that and to calm down a little bit before more of their fast Rock N’ Roll. It was supposed to be released in Humanity: Hour I (2007), but did not fit to the album. It has a beautiful solo, maybe the strongest of this album. The Scracth sounds like those old Rock N’ Roll songs from the 1950’s – the highlights here are definitely the drums and the bass that bring a very unique groove to the song. Gypsy Life is a ballad like no other band can do, only Scorpions. It closes the standard version of the album in a very nice way and, again, reflects Scorpions’ life style, living year after year on the road.
For those who got the deluxe or iTunes versions, there are still some bonus tracks. The first is The World We Used To Know, which somehow does not fit well to the rest of the album, although it has good lyrics and backing vocals, but, not such a strong work on guitars. Dancing With The Moonlight, on the other hand, puts everybody to dance. When The Truth Is A Lie has great acoustic guitars alongside the electric guitars, and this combination gives a calm element but still keeps the song quite heavy. Who We Are basically puts together acoustic guitars, Klaus’ amazing voice and stunning backing vocals, and the result is another very deep ballad with the band’s trademark. Delirious closes the iTunes version in a great manner: another song wtih those riffs only a band like Scorpions can do.
It is quite easy to imagine most of those songs being played live and driving the crowd crazy. Is this the very last Scorpions album? We cannot tell. If so, we know we have in our hands a very intimate album, that take us closer to the lives of those iconic musicians. If not, and we hope it is not, we know we still have a lot to learn with those veterans of Rock N’ Roll. One thing we know for sure: they did their job very well throughout the years, leaving their names carved forever in the world of music.
Best moments of the album: Going Out With A Bang, We Built This House, Rock N’ Roll Band, Rollin’ Home and Gypsy Life.
Worst moments of the album: The World We Used to Know.
Released in 2015 Sony Music
1. Going Out With A Bang 3:47
2. We Built This House 3:53
3. Rock My Car 3:20
4. House Of Cards 5:05
5. All For One 2:58
6. Rock ‘N’ Roll Band 3:54
7. Catch Your Luck And Play 3:33
8. Rollin’ Home 4:03
9. Hard Rockin’ The Place 4:06
10. Eye Of The Storm 4:27
11. The Scratch 3:41
12. Gypsy Life 4:51
Limited Edition/iTunes bonus tracks
13. The World We Used To Know 3:51
14. Dancing With The Moonlight 3:42
15. When The Truth Is A Lie 4:27
16. Who We Are 2:33
iTunes exclusive bonus track
17. Delirious 2:58
Klaus Meine – lead vocals
Matthias Jabs – lead guitars, rhythm guitars, acoustic guitars
Rudolf Schenker – rhythm guitars,lead guitars, backing vocals
Paweł Mąciwoda – bass guitar
James Kottak – drums, backing vocals