The Scorpions Blackout : Album Review

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Blackout is the 1982 opus from the veteran German rock band the Scorpions. The Scorpions formed in Hanover, West Germany in 1965. The band managed to cope with the loss of two fantastic guitarists in Uli Roth and Michael Schenker. The Scorpions successfully developed their own style utilizing a distinctive “trembling with fear” guitar sound. In many respects, Blackout is probably the nearest thing to a blueprint of a Scorpions album while also delivering three solid singles in the name of ” No One Like You,” “Dynamite,” and “Blackout.”

The lineup that plays on Blackout got together when Matthias Jabs was drafted in to replace Michael Schenker on guitars in 1980. When the lineup of Jabbs, Rudolf Schenker, Kluas Meine, Herman Rarebell, and Francis Buchholz got in the studio to record Blackout they created a masterpiece between them. Furthermore, producer Dieter Dierks managed to get a real edge to the music. The band sounds really sharp, almost like a live recording with a bit of polish yet not too much polish that the sharpness was lost.

Perhaps the first thing that stands out about Blackout is the great guitar playing from both Schenker and Jabs. The interplay between the two is excellent throughout. There is power, precision, melody, and quieter acoustic moments that blend in perfectly with the mood of each and every track. There are potent riffs that drive the music forward such as the title track, “Can’t Live Without You,” “Dynamite,” and “Now!” Then there is the solo on “When The Smoke Is Going Down,” pure class as simple as that.

Aside from the twin guitar sound, the vocals of Meine are top-notch on this opus. He handles up-tempo rockers like “Blackout.” and “Dynamite,” with as much aplomb as the slower and highly atmospheric “When The Smoke Is Going Down.” In “Can’t Live Without You,” his singing is a little like Noddy Holder’s of Slade, and for “Now!” a little reminiscent of Robert Plant. Klaus Meine clearly demonstrates his singing ability on this record, displaying both melody and power, take for instance China White.

Scorpions Blackout Album

Photo: By Pablo BM from Plymouth, England (Flickr) [CC BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

Then there is the excellent drumming of Rarebell and the crisp and pulsating bass lines from Buchholz, again China White provides a fine example. Together they formed an excellent rhythm section. Rarebell’s drumming is every bit as good as some of their contemporaries like Cozy Powell (both worked closely with Michael Schenker). Similarly, Buchholz was one of the best rock bass players around and still is. These two play together in Michael Schenker’s Temple of Rock.

While Blackout is not one of the best-known Scorpions’ albums it has to be up there as among one of the best records they have ever made. All the tracks are exceptional.

The Scorpions Blackout : Album Review article published on Classic RockHistory.com© 2016

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