With over a half century of rockin' like a hurricane behind them, Scorpions may have slowed down a little, but the band who help shaped the template of modern mainstream metal with albums like Lovedrive, Animal Magnetism, Blackout and Love At First Sting are still a considerable force in and out of the studio.
The driving force behind the band remains Rudolf Schenker, a man whose metronomic, precision-tooled rhythm guitar provides the fuel for much of the band's success. Here, he chooses his 10 favourite Scorpions' albums.
“We had never thought about doing an orchestral album, until we were told that the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra wanted to work with us. We were the only band they wanted to work with. They even turned down Pink Floyd!
"The whole event was such a great experience, and we worked very hard on the arrangements. I’m not a big fan of classical music, but this was something that gave an extra edge to Scorpions songs. If MTV Unplugged showed we could be convincing in an acoustic environment, then this proved we could collaborate with a world class orchestra.”
“We’d done Acoustica in 2001, so when we were asked to do an MTV Unplugged show, we wanted to make it different. Usually bands do this in front of very small crowds, so we decided we would do it with a big audience in a special setting. Which is why we went to Athens (at the open air Lycabettus Theatre).
"The songs are obviously all very strong, but I believe the arrangements we did worked brilliantly. And the atmosphere was amazing. I feel we proved we could play an acoustic show at a very high level.”
“This was originally supposed to be an album featuring leftovers from the 70s and 80s. And that’s how it started out. But one day I found a book my mother kept from September 1965, which documented how much money I owed my father who’d lent us what we needed to go on tour in those days.
"My mother was determined I’d pay back my dad everything he’d loaned the band. When I showed our manager this book, he got very excited, because he realised that 2015 was our 50th anniversary, and so few bands make it to that landmark. So, he insisted we should do an album that celebrated the event.
"What we did was use some of the leftovers, but also wrote new songs with the Swedish Rock Mafia (Mikael Nord Andersson and Martin Hansen). It really has the spirit of the 1980s running throughout, and I’d say it fits perfectly between Love At First Sting and Savage Amusement.”
“I always thought this had some of out best songs, but what let it down was the production, which I never liked. But by the time we got to Savage Amusement, we knew exactly what we were doing, and were very much in the groove as far as the Scorpions’ style and sound was concerned.
"It wasn’t that we were into repetition, but we all knew our roles. If only the production had been better…”
“We had the chance to record the music we wanted to play without Dieter Dierks, who had been our producer since In Trance in 1975. Bruce Fairbarin was our original choice to produce us, and we flew to LA to meet him. He put us in touch with Jim Vallance, because he thought Jim could help with the songwriting.
"We got on so well with Jim, and ended up co-writing a lot of this album with us – seven tracks in all. But at the last minute, Bruce said he’d been asked to produce AC/DC, which had always one of his ambitions, so he couldn’t do our album. In the end we went with Keith Olsen, who did a superb job. Most of the recording was done at his Goodnight LA Studios, but Klaus had problems with the vocals, so we did those at Wisseloord Studios in Holland, where we also mixed it.
"The album’s known of course for Wind Of Change, which became a peace anthem for the time. But there were other songs like Send Me An Angel, which was massive in Asia. Grunge was really taking off, but we could play to 20,000 people in somewhere like Malaysia because of the latter song. In fact, the consistency of this album helped us to survive the grunge onslaught.”
“Every performance here is a killer. It was recorded at so many cities across the world (five locations), and our producer Dieter Dierks came on the road with us and spent ages going through every recording we made to find the best version of each song.
"It was a long job, but worth it. This represented how exciting everything was for us at the time, because we were headlining massive venues. Until recently, this was the second best selling live album. Only Frampton Comes Alive! was selling more copies.”
“We’d just come off a massive tour promoting Lovedrive, so didn’t have much time to get the songs together for the next album. And Matthias [Jabs, guitar] was still finding his feet.
"But despite all of that, it’s a really powerful album, and some of the songs have become classics. Make It Real, Lady Starlight, The Zoo… they are an important part of the Scorpions’ history.
"When Animal Magnetism was released, we were also becoming a lot bigger, and were getting close to being headliners everywhere. This was a crucial step for us.”
“This was the album where we wanted to prove losing Uli Jon Roth on guitar wouldn’t affect us. Klaus and I were determined to show we could carry on without him. We brought in Matthias, but he was still finding his way. So I did a solo, and Michael my brother also did some.
"He was on honeymoon and called to tell me he was back in Germany. Michael asked what we were doing, and when I told him we were doing a new album, he offered to come down and play on it. That made a big difference to the whole sound. I also love the cover, because it really stands out.”
“Again, I believe the songs are so good. But maybe what puts it slightly behind my first choice is that the production isn’t quite as good. We went to Polar Studios in Stockholm, because we wanted to work somewhere different. This was one of the first fully digital studios, and it had a great atmosphere.
"The mistake we made was recording and mixing digitally. We should have done the mix the old fashioned way on analogue. So, the overall sound of the album wasn’t so good.
"But the songs… well, Rock You Like A Hurricane is one of the rock’n’ roll anthems of the 1980s, while Still Loving You started a baby boom in France. It was also played so much in Russia, it made us a very big band in the country long before we played there in 1988.”
“There are just so many great songs on this album. But it’s more than that which puts this at number one for me. The sound was so strong, because we were using a state-of-the-art 32-track machine in the studio.
"But more than that, we had to overcome a massive problem, because Klaus Meine lost his voice, and that put us under a lot of pressure. The fact we came through the problem makes the album very special. Also, No One Like You became the most played rock song on American radio stations in 1982, which helped us to step up and become headliners in our own right over there.
"I also have to mention the album cover, which I love. We had lots of meetings with Hipgnosis, who did the Lovedrive and Animal Magnetism covers. But none of their ideas fitted. Then I was looking through the German magazine Stern one day and saw this picture of (artist) Gottfried Heinwein. I knew that was the cover. I called Klaus, and he had seen the picture at the same time and agreed with me!"