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Wednesday, September 21, 2005

NOT MY BROTHER'S NUGGETS

Fred is doing a weekly spot on his blog called Nuggets in which he picks an album that he feels deserves more attention than it gets. I love this idea, and in fact have been doing blogs of this ilk sporadically all along. So I will try to do a weekly nugget of my own, and I pretty much guarantee you will not find these albums mentioned on his Top Fifty or Nuggets blogs.

Ah, the glory that is In Trance by the Scorpions.

In 1975 German Rockers the Scorpions released their third LP, In Trance, teaming up for the first time with producer Dieter Dierks - a relationship that would last for decades was established.

In 1975 the Scorpions were purveyors of Space Rock, a blend of heavy blues based rock with plenty of Hendrixian guitar action. In Trance is the pinnacle of that moment in rock. For some reason Germany had, and has, a large and dedicated fanbase for bands such as Hawkwind, Budgie, UFO, and hometown boys the Scorpions. The five piece band from Hanover joined Dieter in his studio in Koln (Cologne) and produced an album that set the bar in terms of the whammy bar.

Ulrich Roth, who replaced the seemingly unreplaceable Michael Schenker, took Hendrix flash where even Jimmy hadn't. For evidence one need only drop the needle on track one; 'Dark Lady'. If, indeed, you survive this mind bending experience, you are given a breather in the form of Klaus Meine's telling of a morning when he woke up 'In Trance', but as the pretty picking turns around and slams into the chords of the chorus, you are woken from the trance in time to be taken on a psychedelic trip down arpeggio lane as the band creates mood and groove in 'Life's Like A River'. Roth's eastern influences shine against his Teutonic trills, the mix is heady, and heavy in that really, really high sort of way. 'Life's Like A River' is easily one of the all time great songs nobody in America has ever heard. 'Top of the Bill' is a standard heavy rock tune with an awesome guitar track, ground zero for the new Wave Of Heavy Metal that would erupt four years later. 'Living and Dying' is another slower number where Klaus gets to do his thing unfettered. I love these numbers, having been listening to them for twenty five years, so expressive, and vulnerable yet fearless. Klaus is no Bill Shakespeare. Klaus' English is not great, but he tries oh so hard to tell his story in a language that he quite obviously is not a master of, and I love him all the more for it.

" In the dirty old city
There is my home
There's my home, there's my home
There is my home

Nothing really looks pretty
And I've been alone
I've been alone, I've been alone
I've been alone

And in my heart
Many wishes are crying
Living and dying

In the house of darkness
There's a magic stone
Magic stone, magic stone
The magic stone

But I couldn't find it
'Cause the shine is gone
Shine is gone, shine is gone
The shine is gone"

You see, the shine is gone. The shine is gone, the shine is gone, the shine is gone. Man, that's some heavy shit. Anyway, next up is the goofy, but kinda cool 'Robot Man'. 'Oooh, ooooh, he's a robot man." What's cool about this very silly number are the effects that Mr. Dierks uses on the vocals and guitars, very processed for 1975. Lots of panning, phasing, filters o' plenty. Neat stuff. The remainder of the record is a melodic tour de force alternating between sweet down tempo lazy phased picking, and slam in your face chord stomping like so many jack boots on pavement. 'Evening Wind', 'Sun In My Hand', 'Longing for Fire', and 'Night Lights' are examples of Mood Rock, as I like to call it, the songs sound like their titles, and go great with psychedelic drugs. Way beyond their years in terms of production and arrangement, on 'In Trance' the Scorpions not only showed they could play with the big boys, they were the big boys.

Comments:
Great post Jackson.

I remember my brother playing 'Robot Man' over and over while playing air guitar on his skateboard. You'll have to school me on the U. Roth era Scorp's. I can only remember those records being very weird.
 
I just clicked through the the Scorps webpage. Much to dig around there, but I gotta say, that "Virgin Killer" cover art is, I don't know how to say it..., a bit much I guess in a very Bobby Fleckmann kinda way. Don't think they'd get away with it nowadays.

I also found the U. Roth tune I hated on that album 'Hellcat'. Just horrible.

Actually, looking at all their sleeve art work it's safe to say that Reiner and Guest got the whole Smell The Glove thing from these guys albums.

Still love'em despite all this...
 
Certainly Spinal Tap got their cover art schtick from these guys, and yes Virgin Killer took it way too far. I used to love Hell Cat until I recently revisited it and saw it as a bad attempt at a 'Foxy Lady' of their own. Great beat, great guitar, horrible vocal (ulrich). Klaus, unfortunately for us and fortunately for himself, steered clear of this track.
 
Ulrich Roth's bet stuff was in the late 70's early 80's when he was on that tv show where he played the private investigator in Las Vegas. Remember he drove that old 50's corvette and his garage was the living room of his pad. Remeber? Tony Curtis played the gay casino owne???

oh wait, that was Robert Ulrich... never mind.
 
That's fucking funny...
 
I do remember the show, and it's funny because both Ulrich, and Bob U. did their best work at the same time. Ulrich looked better in a kimono though.
 
It was Robert Urich. No "L". It's sad that I know that. He was some kind of minor celebrity before he was a marginal celebrity because he played college football for some big school. I think he was a quarterback or sumpin.
 
Huh, huh... Jackson said, "My brother's nuggets". Huh, huh...
 
Have you seen my brother's Nuggets? They are somethin'....it's interesting about my brothers Nuggets. They have gotten smaller over the years. They used to be 12 inches, then they went down to 5, and now, sometimes, you can't even see his Nuggets. I guess it's pretty much the same story for all of us, but I still have my 12 inch days, some days 180 grams too.
 
It's shrinkage I'm sure...
 
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