With a few exceptions, creativity and ingenuity are finite forces. Even the Beatles all individually “dried up” only a little while after the release of Abbey Road and Let It Be (and I don’t even want to get into how downhill things went for Michael Jackson after Thriller). Many recording and performing artists run into the same problem once the udder of inspiration runs completely dry: “giving up” - despite all indications that doing so would be a supported and exquisite choice - is typically inconceivable to the artist, resulting in geriatric embarrassments that catastrophically strip away entire legacies. Enter Comeblack by the Scorpions, which is simply a collection of sterile and submissive rerecordings of past hits, and of covers by their influences (cover versions of “Tainted Love” by Gloria Jones, “Children of the Revolution” by T. Rex, “Across The Universe” by the Beatles, “Tin Soldier” by the Small Faces, “All Day And All Of The Night” by the Kinks, and “Ruby Tuesday” by the Rolling Stones constitutes the latter half of the album).
While pretty tame compared to similar cash-ins, the Scorpions are by no means on their A-game here. If there’s any motivation behind these rerecordings of decade-old material other than pecuniary attainment, it isn’t obvious. The sonic differences between the old and new recordings of “Rock You Like a Hurricane”, for example, are largely inconsequential, and in the few instances where changes are noticeable, the old versions still reign supreme. The vocal performances on these rerecordings are markedly worse, and the recordings themselves sound cold and “digital” and lack the jagged quality of the old versions. Most everything about the covers on the last half of the record are deplorable, and while the Scorpions’ decision to “Scorpitize” the covers on the record is admirable, the amount of modifying they do to the original arrangements mitigates the power and intent of the songs immensely: the ridiculous guitar solo and excessive heavy metal note-bending in their version of “Children Of The Revolution” make it seem as if the lead guitarist wasn’t even familiar with the source material; Klaus Meine’s vocal gymnastics in “Across The Universe” totally diminishes the John Lennon’s diary-intimacy of the original version and remains one of the most disgraceful and unfaithful Beatles covers I have ever heard; “Tin Soldier” has an entirely different structure and lacks the vacillating, first-kiss giddiness of the incredible Small Faces original; Meine totally misses all of the brilliant subtlety in Ray Davies’ vocals and lyrics that characterized the Kinks’ rendition of “Day And All Of The Night”, and “Ruby Tuesday” simply can’t work as a hard-rocker (or that’s probably how the Stones would have done it).
Comeblack is a difficult record to review. On one hand, it’s tantamount to a best-of compilation; but the selected “hits” are just insubstantial (and unjustified) rerecordings of songs that by no means deserve the treatment, and this impregnates the entire album with a confused and disreputable essence. On the other hand, it’s a cover album, a truly miserable and impersonal one. Comeblack is guaranteed to leave fans of classic Scorpions scratching their heads, and those looking for an introduction to the group are advised to search elsewhere.
// Notes from the Road
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