Scorpions - Lonesome Crow
On February 9, 1972, "Scorpions" released their debut album "Lonesome Crow".
It's a different and special album that did not sound like anything else at the time it came out. A mix of Heavy Rock, Progressive and Psychedelia, a kind of musical salad that probably lies in the fact that the band was still in its infancy and had no musical direction yet, but hey, who cares? It is a great salad.
"Scorpions" was formed by Rudolf Schenker in the industrial city of Hanover, western Germany, in 1965, but the hard core of the band only began to form in 1970 with the joining of singer Klaus Meine and Rudolf's brother, guitarist Michael Schenker, who was only 15 at the time. Later on, Lothar Heimberg on bass and vocals and Wolfgang Dziony on drums, percussion and vocals joined as well.
In 1972 the band won a young bands talent contest and as a result they got to record a single that included the songs "Action" and "I'm Going Mad".
Although the single was not eventually released, the recording was sent to the record company "Brain", a company from Hamburg that specialized in underground, experimental, progressive music, known as the "Krautrock" genre. The same "Brain" has worked with bands that have become leaders in the genre, such as "Neu!", "Cluster" and "Guru Guru". This label, which was known for the free hand it gives to their artists, was enthusiastic about the wild and unique style that the members of "Scorpions" brought from Hanover and the fact that they chose to sing in English, so they decided to fund an album for them. They paired them with producer Conny Plank who also produced "Cluster" and "Neu!" and thus the craft of creating the album that will bring "Scorpions" into the world has begun. It is interesting to note, that producer Conny Plank was an esteemed and well-known producer in the krautrock, prog and psychedelic scene in Germany, but not only. Later he will also produce albums for bands like "Kraftwerk" and even "Killing Joke", "Eurhythmics" and "Ultravox".
So as we mentioned above, the musical salad in this album is very hard to define, but who cares about genre definitions if it sounds great.
The album opens up with "I'm Goin' Mad" and the thunderous rolling drums accompanied by Wolfgang's percussion, joined after about 20 seconds by Rudolf Schenker's rhythm guitar and Lothar's beating bass. It's not clear to us why, but this opening that combines the drums and percussion, reminds us of another amazing opening to Deep Purple's third album with the song "Chasing Shadows". But the real magic of the song begins precisely when Michael Schenker, Rudoloff's younger brother who was only 16 at the time of the recordings, comes in with the first guitar solo and the guitar sound that is so reminiscent of Tony Iommi's early days. From there we continue with the monotonous rhythm and the ecclesiastical background vocals, accompany us to Michael's second solo and the feeling that this young guy is only getting better as we delve deeper into the song. And what an amazing bass work by Lothar, taking care of breaking the monotony and vocal chorus from time to time with interesting lines. Only in 2:30 minutes into the song we finally get to hear Klaus Meine's singing, that makes it clear to us that he is walking in the arid desert, in the hot and scorching sun and he just "goes crazy ..." and another amazing solo by Michael Schenker and another one and this song is just an amazing psychedelic trip rock.
In the second track "It All Depends" we are already picking up rhythm and taking off gloves ahead of a two-second drum guitar fight, that is interrupted by Klaus' scream "Yeahhhhhhh" and the guitar-drums return for the second round of the battle. When Klaus starts singing, jazz elements get mixed into his singing that mix with Michael Schenker's metal riff and it just does not sound like anything else, we already said that, right? And Sorry, but Rudolf's guitar chuckles at 0:45 into the song reminds us again of the third "Deep Purple". From there we get into an instrumental section that may sound like improvisation, but it's just accurate and wonderful and the bass work there is just brilliant. At 2:45, suddenly, out of nowhere, a break, and another pause, and Wolfgang's crazy rollers on the drum set comes right after, shake and resonate even five decades later.
"Leave Me" opens with the blowing wind effect and the sounds of the obscured strings. A psychedelic atmosphere that is amplified with the sudden moaning of the guitar and the bass guitar line that comes right after it. But from there everything turns upside down and the song becomes a kind of German chanson with jazzy guitar sentences, bluesy vocals and sweet background sounds planted somewhere in 1950s pop, with psychedelic guitar noises continuing in the background. Towards the middle of the song Michael marvels at his playing with a bluesy solo and a dirty guitar sound, with the psychedelic guitar noises constantly lingering in the background. In the 4th minute of the song or so, a break, a change of rhythm and everyone takes a lot of air towards the crazy run that will accompany us until the end of the song.
The fourth track that also closes the first side of the vinyl - "In Search of the Peace of Mind" is perhaps the most prog-rock song on the album. It opens with a marsh rhythm and guitar solo and then downshifts with Klaus Meine's vocals accompanied by bass guitar, and the song suddenly becomes quiet and melancholy with arpeggio chords and an electrifying solo. The song gradually develops, but just when we are sure that there's a climax coming up ahead, we are sucked through a black hole into a calm and melancholy section, with the wind blowing in our ears at the background. But in Prog, as in Prog, it's not over 'til it's over and Klaus' singing changes from soothing to screaming and now it is clear that the search for peace of mind has been crowned a great failure ...
And if that interests you, then at the beginning of 2021 Michael Schenker had a closer when he included a crazy rendition of this song he had written almost 50 years earlier, in his album "IMMORTAL".
The other side of the vinyl opens up with "Inheritance" and continues the formula of short vocal sections with lots of guitar solos, pounding bass lines and precise jams. And yet again the young Michael Schenker sounds to us like Ritchie Blackmore when he was young in the first lineup of "Deep Purple", in the first solo set off in the 1:35. What an amazing playing and it just was not perceived that this kid was only 16 when the album was recorded. Then again we witness dynamic changes in rhythms and style, which accompany us until the end of the song.
"Action" opens up with a jazz style and more or less at 1:20 it makes a conversion to blues. Then another style change and another change of rhythm and the soft chords are replaced by a crazy solo and the relaxed singing is replaced by "Ian Gillanish" screams. Then, another frantic guitar solo that accompanies us until the end of the song.
The album ends up with the theme song "Lonesome Crow", which is a long musical journey. It starts with weird sounds and effects produced from the guitars of Rudolf and Michael and it stretches over thirteen minutes, with a psychedelic Prog section that features a long jam session full of reverb and delay effects and a weird vocal section with no words. The jam evolves and intensifies with Michael Schenker's mighty solo that simply launches us into outer space and leads us to another vocal section of Klaus Meine. The song ends, of course, with another short solo.
After the release of the album, the band went on a tour, during which they where the warm-up show of the British band "UFO". Phil Mogg - "UFO" lead singer, was very impressed with the charismatic performance of the young and virtuoso player, Michael Schenker, so he offered him to join his band. Michael agreed and left "Scorpions" as early as 1973, even before the band began recording their second album. Michael Schenker will be replaced by another giant guitarist, Uli Jon Roth, with the help of whom the band will design its style and formulate it for the big breakthrough that is yet to come.