When the Scorpions announced their retirement way back in 2010, neither Germany's biggest selling band (100 million records world-wide) or their fans would never have dreamed they would still be here in 2015 celebrating their fiftieth anniversary! Better still was the news of a new nineteenth Scorpions studio album, Return To Forever to be released. It all started with the band planning on re-recording eight songs for a fan only release - but new material was written in the studio so eight songs turned into a whopping nineteen! Twelve songs have made the cut to the standard format and seventeen to the deluxe edition. So much for going for a pension !!
"Return To Forever" is certainly not the sound of the Scorpions treading water in their twilight years. In fact these songs are so vibrant it makes it my favourite Scorpions album since the 1982 release of Blackout. Yes it really is this good. Klaus Meine’s vocal delivery is as powerful as ever on the rockers and sublime on the ballads. When it comes to rock ballads the Scorpions always deliver and the three here are as gripping as ‘Holiday’, ‘Still Loving You’, ‘Always Somewhere’, ‘When The Smoke Is Going Down’ etc. As the teasing blue grass intro leads into the seismic riffs for the chorus and even some Rolling Stones like guitar lines midway to the aptly titled opener ‘Going Out With A Bang’ proves that this is no nostalgia trip but the sound of a band chomping at the bit. They continue with the radio-friendly stadium anthem ‘We Built This House’, It’s ‘Rock You Like A Hurricane’ like intro, use of “whoa oh oh oh’s” and a chorus that gets straight in your head make it my track of the album for what its worth..
Other highlights are ‘Rock My Car’, full of hefty ‘The Zoo’ like riffs and an over the top guitar solo from Matthias Jabs as Klaus bellows “Rock, rock, rock my car, lets put some pedal down to the metal”. Yes, he really does sing that ..! The first of the three ballads is next. ‘House Of Cards’ has a spine tingling vocal over acoustic guitars with minimal stabs of electric. You can see the arenas now with all the phone lights on and a superb electric guitar solo mid-song just tops it off. ‘All For One’, an on the road song brings the heaviness back with a abrasive main riff and a huge chorus of “All for one, standing tall through high and low”. 'Rock'n'Roll Band' is a fast rocker that reminds me of the early days of the band. The guitars are roaring, the rhythm section is pushing - a song that is right to the point. One of the best of the new songs for yours truly....
The almost Sweet like intro to ‘Catch Some Luck And Play’ gives way to a thick, almost grunge like main riff with yet another razor sharp Matthias solo midway. The Rolling Stones vibe raises it’s head once more with the main riff of ‘Rolling Home’ akin to ‘Honky Tonk Woman’ as James Kottak’s thumping drum patterns lead to a monstrous chorus. ‘Eye Of The Storm’ strays into power ballad territory with the wistful vocal of ”Another year running is through my veins, some moments wasted, some will remain”. The languid opening verses are given a shot in the arm when the power chords kick in.'Return To Forever' ends on the third and final ballad ‘Gypsy Life’ - which is another on the road number with the lyrics reflecting on relationships whilst on tour.
And so to sum up..: 'Return To Forever' is a huge exclamation mark in the career of this legendary band. It combines all the strengths and trademarks this band is known for. For sure there aren't any experiments here and the Scorpions deliver what they can do best, but within the genre. 'Return To Forever' shines with its variety and great performances by all band members. If the Scorpions can hold this high level I really hope these guys have returned to stay with us forever!. However, if this indeed is the last album, then thank you for the music guys... And see you at the inaugural Ramblin’ Man Festival in Maidstone at the end of July at your only UK show for yet another farewell appearance !!
Track listing :-
1. Going Out With A Bang
2. We Built This House
3. Rock My Car
4. House Of Cards
5. All For One
6. Rock'n'Roll Band
7. Catch Your Luck And Play
8. Rollin' Home
9. Hard Rockin' The Place
10. Eye Of The Storm
11. The Scratch
12. Gypsy Life
13. The World We Used To Know (Bonus Track)
14. Dancing With The Moonlight (Bonus Track)
15. When The Truth Is A Lie (Bonus Track)
16. Who We Are (Bonus Track)
17. One And One Is Three (Bonus Track)
Wrinkly The Silver