- Posted January 14, 2009 by
This iReport is part of an assignment:
Does the album hold up?
The album that changed my life
Okay - the truth is I had been a Scorpions fan since I first heard them. It was probably somewhere in the mid to late 70's and my uncle (my first guru of cool) had a growing record collection busrting with hard rock and punk flavor to spite the disco beats coming from the floor above him in his sisters' room. It was through his tutelage that I first heard the song "The Zoo" by the Scorpions and fell in love. His collection grew and I discovered other Scorpions songs that pierced my subconscious immediately. The next discovery was "Sails of Charon."
It was with this firm footing in Scorpions flavor that the eighties washed upon me. The family moved to southern Idaho and my uncle's room (really the whole basement) became mercilessly unavailable. My predilectoin for heavy metal guitar was fully developed and the early 80's fare was relatively well suited to meet my needs - but the Scorpions were still the purest form of the flavor that I now craved. The Record Exchange in Boise (about 20 miles from our new hometown) had a broad collection and became my new spending destination.
In the 80's the rest of the world seemed to discover the Scorpions. Blackout was a smash hit. The only problem was...even though Blackout really had some great tunes. It was clearly a formulaic step for them, following on the format developed by not only Animal Magnetism, but even echoing the general format of Lovedrive. I guess the idea was; if it ain't broken....
Love at First Sting was would be the last new album I would purchase upon release. That's not to say I didn't enjoy it. I did - but like probably many Scorpions fans - after hearing "Rock You Like A Hurricane" 10,000 times blaring from every passing Camaro it gets a little old. The problem was I still loved the Scorpions, but as I played all those albums in my room until late into the night it became clearer and clearer to me that the earlier the album the more it spoke to me.
I began to purchase the Scorpions albums from years earlier. First, Virgin Killer and then the Best of the Scorpions, but acess was severely limited for a 15 year old in rural Idaho years before the internet. And then one day it happened. I wallked into the Record Exchange and buried behind umpteen copies of Love at First Sting was a rare double album import from France (that's right....beautiful, beautiful vinyl). It was In Trance and Fly to the Rainbow packaged together.
It was a little too pricey for my nonexistent budget so I got creative and put together little jobs and even sold some albums from my collection, but eventually I returned home with that sweet import in my hot little hands. I discovered wonders unimagined when that album hit the turntable. This Scorpions band sounded like something I had not heard before. I could make out Klaus' voice and I was already well aware of the stylistic difference between the Uli Roth era and the Matthias Jabs era, but the overall texture of this era felt very different. It was warm and comfortable with more rhythmic diversity than I had ever heard from them and it lacked the metallic sheen that seemed so clearly evident in the stuff I was more familiar with.
While both albums were wonderful, Fly to the Rainbow was such a departure from my expections that it immediately captured my imagination. Who was this band? Spanish Acoustic Guitars? Hippy Trippy escapist lyrics? Musicianship based on something other than shredding guitar solos? This was music you closed your eyes and swayed your head to - with your fists conspicuously unraised.
Fly to the Rainbow spent the better part of my senior year alone on my turntable. It did not seem to be good driving music, but that may be because I came to associate so much with deep thought by myself alone in my room. Writing poetry and sketching between homework assignments and even my pathetic attempts to maintain any kind of adolescent social profile were flavored with the ambiance of this 1974 masterpiece. All these years later when I listen to it, it still sounds like the most earnest attempt at artistic transcendence that I have ever heard from the Scorpions. History seems to have claimed them as an internationally flavored party metal band.
It seemed to be more fundamentally Scorpion-flavored than anything I had heard before and I still put it on to get in touch with that young man seeking to define himself in relation to that world of the late eighties. I have soft spots for a lot of music by the Scorpions but this album is singular for me as an unapologetic example of music for music's sake and who the Scorpions were before the "Hurricane."
Fly to the Rainbow indeed...