On August 15, 1978, "Scorpions" released (in Japan) their first live album "Tokyo Tapes".
We do not often review live albums, but when it comes to masterful ones that have been tattooed deep in our hearts, we deviate from the practice and review them. This is one of those live albums that we have in the "Exceptions" category.
This album was recorded during the band's performance at Nakano Sun Plaza in Tokyo, Japan, during two shows on April 24 and 27, 1978. These performances were part of the band's tour in Japan that was part of the world tour that accompanied the album "Taken By Force", From 1977. This album marked the end of the psychedelic era of "Scorpions".
At that time there was great friction between Rudolf Schenker and Klaus Meine who wanted to incite the band's musical style more toward hard rock / melodic metal, on one hand, and Uli Jon Roth who was interested in continuing the same style on the other hand. These frictions led Uli Jon Roth to decide he wanted to leave the band, but Klaus Meine's persuasions led him to stay for the tour that accompanied the "Taken By Force" album, and so we fans earned big time from this amazing live album.
When we say "big time" we mean that Uli Jon Roth simply surpasses everyone else on this album, which serves as a final testament to his greatness and the guitar playing within the band. Although Klaus Meine gives an extraordinary performance on this album and although the other members and especially Rudolf Schenker also simply surpass themselves, the MVP here is without a doubt, Uli Jon Roth. His playing simply pushes the songs forward and makes them better than the studio versions and thus his added value that makes this album one of our live favorites.
This album is actually a kind of "Greatest Hits" album that sums up the band's first era, plus some "reality-bound" tracks, which the band apparently performed at the request of the local production, such as the cover versions of the songs "Hound Dog" and "Long Tall Sally" And the rendition of the Japanese folk song "Kojo no Tsuki".
The album opens with no unnecessary introductions, straight and to the point, with "All Night Long". A song written by Klaus Meine and Uli Jon Roth and not included on any of the band's albums. It was originally performed in the tour that accompanied the album "In Trance" in the years 1975-1976 and later in the tour designed to promote the album "Virgin Killer" in the years 1976-1977. Finally, the band decided to record it for "Tokyo Tapes" and later released it as part of an EP.
Next comes a huge sequence of hits - "Pictured Life", "Backstage Queen" which overshadowed the studio version, and "Polar Nights" with an extra long opening, all from the album "Virgin Killer", the immortal song "In Trance" performed amazingly vocally showing the abilities of Klaus Meine and of course "We'll Burn the Sky" whose lyrics were written by Monika Dannemann, who was Jimi Hendrix's last girlfriend and later was involved in a relationship with Uli Jon Roth, who was, of course, a devout fan of Hendrix. This song is of course insanely performed with amazing guitar work by Uli.
Other unforgettable moments in the show can be found in the excellent performance of "In Search of the Peace of Mind", in the mesmerizing guitars of Rudolf Schenker and Uli Jon Roth in the song "Fly to the Rainbow", in the sweeping performance of the song "Top of the Bill" which also includes an interesting drum solo by Herman Rarebell, in the special tribute of the band performing "Kojo no Tsuki" - a Japanese folk song with the participation of the audience and at the psychic end of the show with a twice as long version of "Robot Man", compared to the studio album.
In 2015, the album was released in an expanded edition to mark the band's 50th anniversary. This version includes 6 bonus tracks that were not part of the original album, including: "Hell Cat", "Catch Your Train" and the "Kimi Ga Yo" track performed as a tribute to the local audience.
At the end of the tour, Uli Jon Roth left the band and formed "Electric Sun". Guitarist Matthias Jabs was chosen in his place, from 150 guitarists who auditioned for the band. Matthias' entry into the band was not smooth, he was forced to share the guitar roles on the album "Lovedrive" with "Superstar" Michael Schenker, who returned to "Scorpions" for a short time. However, later on, from the early 1980s, Matthias will bring a new, fresh, and young style to the band, with an updated sound that will bring "Scorpions" meteoric success.
The album "Tokyo Tapes" is still considered one of the best live recordings of all time, in hard rock and in general. It was a beautiful time for the "Scorpions" in the classic lineup of the seventies and this album marks the end of the band's psychedelic era, as it is also celebrating the arrival of a new and exciting era.