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Scorpions: World Wide Live - Album Of The Week Club review

Recorded in The US, France and Germany, Scorpions' second live album World Wide Live showcased the band at their pyramid-building, fearsomely well-drilled peak

Scorpions: World Wide Live cover art
(Image: © Harvest/EMI)
Scorpions: World Wide Live

Scorpions: World Wide Live

(Image credit: Havest/EMI)

Countdown
Coming Home
Blackout
Bad Boys Running Wild
Loving You Sunday Morning
Make It Real
Big City Nights
Coast to Coast
Holiday
Still Loving You
Rock You Like a Hurricane
Can't Live Without You
Another Piece of Meat
Dynamite
The Zoo
No One Like You
Can't Get Enough
Six String Sting
Can't Get Enough

While 1978's Tokyo Tapes might be the hardcore fans' favourite, 1985's World Wide Live captures Scorpions at their captures the band at their pyramid-building,  imposingly practised and highly commercial peak, with the occasional flower-powered excursions of the Uli Jon Roth era consigned to rock's great dustbin. Instead, the performances were relentlessly taut and ruthlessly delivered.  

The recording was a by-product of a documentary project that centred around the band's their life as a touring rock band. The film crew followed the band around the US, Asia, Europe and South America, and recorded five shows in San Diego, Los Angeles, Costa Mesa, Paris and Cologne for the album.

"Every performance here is a killer," guitarist Rudolf Schenker told us. "It was recorded at so many cities across the world, 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." 

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Every week, Album of the Week Club listens to and discusses the album in question, votes on how good it is, and publishes our findings, with the aim of giving people reliable reviews and the wider rock community the chance to contribute. 

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Other albums released in June 1985

  • Rites of Spring – Rites of Spring
  • Boys and Girls – Bryan Ferry
  • The Firstborn Is Dead – Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds
  • The Beach Boys - The Beach Boys
  • Empire Burlesque – Bob Dylan
  • Fables of the Reconstruction – R.E.M.
  • Little Creatures – Talking Heads
  • Killing Is My Business... and Business Is Good! – Megadeth
  • Invasion of Your Privacy – Ratt
  • Misplaced Childhood – Marillion
  • Theatre of Pain – Mötley Crüe
  • Innocence Is No Excuse – Saxon
  • Call of the Wild – Lee Aaron
  • Fly on the Wall – AC/DC
  • Love You to Pieces – Lizzy Borden

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What they said...

"Overall World Wide Live is an amazing live album that perfectly captures the spirit of a band at the top of their game, a memorable statement of a time where major hard rock/heavy metal acts ruled the charts and played sold-out shows all over the world, still remaining one of the best hard rock live albums ever released." (Sputnik Music (opens in new tab))

"Love at First Sting produced a number of hits (all here). Nothing from the early (Uli Roth) days though, which means the album leans towards the streamlined-style Scorpions. Older stuff would have been nice, but also would have overlapped with their prior double live, Tokyo Tapes. None of that material was in their current set either." (LeBrain (opens in new tab))

"World Wide Live is a great live-album, but it also reveals some weaknesses. Some parts which sounded amazing on albums have lost some of their magic live. Some limitations in Meine's vocals are also revealed. The album lacks few good songs which should have been here, Is There Anybody There? for instance." (Encyclopaedia Metallum (opens in new tab)

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What you said...

Marco LG: In 1987 World Wide Live was my introduction to the Scorpions, and one of my early steps into the world of Heavy Metal. That summer, 13 year old me got into Europe and Bon Jovi, and on my return to school I got talking about those bands with everyone who would care to listen. And some people did.

A few of us gathered around a schoolmate who had one very important asset: an older brother with a vinyl collection! A flurry of tape recordings started to happen, several albums arrived in my hands over the coming weeks and months. Iron Maiden and Metallica became firm favourites and among those first recordings was World Wide Live. I don’t remember exactly why, but this was clearly the only live album of the lot, and the only album by the Scorpions.

Looking back I am glad I started with this live album. All the songs are played much faster than on the studio albums and the band sounds tighter and more menacing for that. There’s a clear connection between the audience and the stage, which makes the atmosphere magical even during the ballads. To me, these are the quintessential versions of Blackout, Big City Nights, No One Like You and all those other classics. Including of course the big two, the two songs I probably don’t feel the need to hear ever again: Still Loving You and Rock You Like a Hurricane

Incidentally, last time I heard the latter live there was Francis Buchholz on bass and Herman Rarebell on drums but it was sang by Doogie White and on guitar there was Michael Schenker. In a strange and incestuous mix of a show, where Michael ended up playing songs of his brother’s band he had no involvement in creating. Odd.

In conclusion, for me this is one of the best live albums ever. I’m going to give it a perfect score because it encapsulates everything good about the 80s: tight band, great connection with the audience, sharp songs and no unnecessary noodling. A masterpiece.

Michael Böcher: This was one important career-defining live album and closed the most important phase of Hannover‘s finest (the albums from Lovedrive until Love At First Sting), a time when the Scorpions transformed from some kind of obscure teutonic rockers to a household name even in the US and UK. 

No wonder that the live album only contains songs from those four albums - and all very energetic versions. It is one of the bestselling live albums from that era and very much worth giving a spin to again. It became the definitive album of my youth, while I was transforming from a rock listener to a heavy metal and hard rock addict. 

It is a little cheesy sometimes, but which album from this era isn't? Especially Klaus‘s speeches: "California, you are dynamite", "Can you see the microphones up in the air…?", "We're doing a live recording tonight" etc. All songs performed are top notch, and the sound is great as well. One of the best live albums of all time. 9/10 for the music, 10/10 for the memory.

Gary Claydon: A live album covering what is, arguably, The Scorpions' golden period was always likely to be a winner and so it proved with World Wide Live. It's far from perfect: I never bothered much with side two of the album, not being a fan of the band's cornier side, particularly the ballads. But when it rocks it rocks hard, most notably on tracks from Lovedrive and Blackout, The Scorpions' best albums. The one-two of Another Piece of Meat and Dynamite that rounds off side three is the highlight for me.

Always a brilliant live band, I don't remember ever coming away from a Scorpions gig feeling disappointed, and the same applies to World Wide Live.

Chris Downie: While not as pronounced as the divide among fans of Def Leppard or Metallica, there is a noticeable demarcation between those who favour the pre-Lovedrive era of Hanover's finest, and those who cite their commercial peak years of 1979-88 as their true meisterwerk.

While the former is documented in previous live recordings, World Wide Live sees them at their most bombastic and over the top, an approach that had culminated in the smash hit Love At First Sting album.

While the small but dedicated hardcover will always have a longing for the Uli Jon Roth era, it's hard to argue with the feeling that the band were in their element on classic rockers like Coming Home and on the mid-paced groover The Zoo, not to mention the lighters-in-the-air (nope, not that song, that came half a decade later!) of Still Loving You, arguably one of the greatest power ballads in history.

In an era where live albums were often hit and miss, and/or embellished by studio trickery, this serves as a fine, if not quite essential, document of one of Europe's finest hard rock / heavy metal bands, at the peak of their powers. 8/10

John Davidson: No argument over the Scorpions ability to deliver classic metal singalongs and the occasional power ballad, but they're a band that I enjoy best in small doses and best-ofs rather than ever owning regular studio albums.

I'd never heard this selection before and it is the kind of live best of that made UFO and Thin Lizzy's reputations. Wish I'd heard it in 1985 as I think I'd have played it to death. The crowd banter is a bit overdone and the authentic live sound means the audio quality isn't perfect, but it's a fine selection of their best songs from the period.

Greg Schwepe: This is a good representation of a "tour souvenir" type live album. Reflects the most popular songs of stuff mostly from Lovedrive to whatever album was current at the time this was recorded.

Scorpions for me always seemed to be an energetic, fun, band to see in concert. And this album reflects that. And who knows if the crowd noise was real or dubbed in afterward. Doesn’t matter to me; adds nice vibe to it.

Bands seemed to put out big live double albums (CD?) so fans could hear all the hits in one place. And maybe these live albums counted in what they owed their record company.

As far as content, first album I bought was Lovedrive and got to see them as the opener in 1979 on a Ted Nugent tour (AC/DC second on the bill). Like all the songs here, but anything after that, not really that interested in.

Mike Canoe: World Wide Live is a well-deserved victory lap by Germany's most valuable hard rock exports. How much one likes it likely correlates with how much one likes that period of the Scorpions. Fortunately for me, that's quite a bit.

The Scorpions' setlist here sticks resolutely to the previous four studio albums, arguably the four that brought them to arenas around the world. While "2022 me" thinks it'd be fun to include older tracks like Speedy's Coming or The Sails of Charon, "1985 me" didn't miss them. If anything, I would have thought my favourite album, Animal Magnetism, woefully underrepresented with only two songs.

I certainly don't have the world's best ears, but World Wide Live sounds genuinely live. Some not-so-intensive Google searching was unable to find evidence of copious studio overdubs that have besmirched the reputations of other classic live albums. With extended listens this week, I have started to wonder how live this version of Rock You Like a Hurricane really is. Otherwise, If overdubs are there, and the law of averages suggests they are, long-time producer Dieter Dirks has worked them in well.

As a product, World Wide Love is an example of a very well-made live album. No superfluous cover songs here – that would wait until their 1989 greatest hits. No padding aside from the Matthias Jabs showcase, Six String Sting, which neatly intersects Can't Get Enough so that each sound natural on their own. Most importantly, banter about the next song is not tacked incongruously onto the one that just finished playing.

There is a very tangible impression of a positive feedback loop between the Scorpions and their audience, each getting the other more and more excited. Any band with an ounce of smarts says they're nothing without their fans but the Scorpions seem to mean it more than most. The live version here of Can't Live Without You exemplifies their relationship with their fans. Similarly, during the extended sheer glorious noise that ends Dynamite, it's easy to visualise thousands of pumping fists and guitar windmills and big smiles all around. A very fun listen.

Evan Sanders: A fun album, making me think back to the days when bands regularly put out double live albums that also served as greatest hits packages. I've never been a big Scorpions fan, though I still like the popular songs such as No One Like You. A worthy keepsake for fans as well as those who want a set of favourite Scorpions songs on one album. And they look like Spinal Tap on the cover.

Uli Hassinger: After a run of four exceptional albums this live album shows the Scorpions at their absolute peak. Saw them many times in this period and this albums captures the sensation quite well.

Rudolf Schenker belongs to the Olympia of metal song writers, and this album proves it. Beside that, Meine is an outstanding vocalist and Jabs as an accurate lead guitar player way too rare.

The album contains the best songs of the previous four albums. Every song is an absolute killer. The two songs that stand out are the The Zoo and Dynamite because they're even more thrilling than on the studio albums. When I recall the live experience it still makes me shiver.

The Scorpions belong on any list of the best live bands. Them headlining Monsters of Rock in 1986 is still one of the most impressive gigs I've seen. The only thing one can criticise is that most of the songs are very similar to the album versions, and that the band were playing the same gigs, note by note, tone by tone, all the time. There is no room for improvisation. That was totally different in the Uli Roth era, were the live versions of the songs differ very much from the studio versions.

The Scorpions are still kicking ass live. In the five years before corona I saw them three times and they still deliver the same quality as on this album. Meine is probably the best rock singer in his age. If you have the chance to see them go for it. This is definitely a 10/10.

Christopher Hawley: My favourite live album... superb

Richard Cardenas: I saw this tour live and remember the excitement of seeing this band at this stage of their career. I’d seen them before but the mass appeal they now had gave the shows an extra level of energy.

Pete Delgado: Well, I might trigger a few of these snobs, but World Wide Live is the better live album. Tokyo Tapes is great, don’t get me wrong, but World Wide Life has a better, more memorable set list. I’d pick it over Tokyo Tapes any day, sorry.

Kurt Zanzi: The setlist on this album is very similar to the set I saw them play at Day on the Green in 1985. To me, Tokyo Tapes and this album are two completely different eras of the Scorpions. World Wide Live captures them as I knew them, the very high-energy 80s band that really kicked ass live.

Edward Fortney: This album perfectly captures a snapshot in time. The band was firing on all cylinders. Enjoyable slab of vinyl!

David Heaton: The difference between Tokyo Tapes and World Wide Live is immense. The only difference is the lead guitarist, Uli Roth on the former and Matthias Jabs on the latter. But it could be two completely different bands.

Willard Whyte: A cringeworthy and infantile era for the Scorpions. Another Piece of Meat. Don't Make No Promises (Your Body Can't Keep). Ooh, young girls' tits.

Bryan Aguilar: Great album, though I prefer Tokyo Tapes. Not often a band has two classic double live albums with no repeated material. Rush is another, KISS kind of but not sure if it counts cuz Side four has studio songs.

Adrian Bolster: Love both live albums but energy on both albums is very different. Saw them at Knebworth in 1985 and again in February 1989 at Hammersmith Odeon. Both amazing shows. At Hammersmith they played Sweet Child O' Mine just before they came on stage and the crowd was singing along when the burst on stage. Fantastic memories.

Philip Qvist: If I had to choose my favourite Scorpions era then it has to be their five studio album run from Lovedrive to Savage Amusement - and World Wide Live captures that period perfectly.

One thing about the Scorpions is that they know how to produce great rock ballads, which they mix well with their harder rocking tunes - and this live set has no shortage of either.

Big City Nights, Still Loving You, Blackout, The Zoo (slightly different to the studio version) and Rock You Like A Hurricane are the standout tracks - although Holiday deserves a better outing than this shortened version on World Wide Live.

It isn't the greatest live album of all time and it certainly lives in the shadow of Live After Death, the other big live album from 1985 - but it's still an enjoyable and very good record from a band at its commercial peak. Well worth a spin.

PS - I think that it is about time that Rudi Schenker and Matthias Jabs get a bit more love. Both are damn good guitarists.

Adam Ranger: Never been a big fan of the Scorpions, in the sense that I own none of their music. Have heard many tracks on playlists etc. and they don't annoy me but with the exception of a few tracks they have never excited me.

This album reflects that view. A few great rocking tracks with in your face guitars.. and a few enjoyable slower numbers. A good time album for the most part.

However.. I did find myself skipping some tracks. Klaus Meine's voice and his "do you wanna rock... cmon!" exhortations to the crowd began to annoy me. I guess you had to be there. There is an undeniable real live energy feel to the recordings though, and I did like that, if not all of the songs.

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Final Score: 8.13 (110 votes cast, total score 895)

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