I'll take the bait here and join the internet glut of articles following the announcement today of the band's intention of ending their 40 year career.
For me The Scorpions haven't been very relevant for some time, but I'll also add that they have been amongst my favorite outfits for some 35 years. They put Germany on the rock and roll map, probably being far bigger than any other non-anglo outfit except maybe ABBA. As they grew larger in popularity their artistic relevance shrank, but that's not what I want to focus on here.
Uli Roth joined the band when they had lost Michael to UFO, who were a much better opportunity for Michael at the time, giving him musical control for the first time, at a time when his riff writing skills were becoming apparent. Roth brought to The Scorpions a voice that was extremely unique at the time. His playing captured both the wildness of Jimi Hendrix, and a technical prowess previously unmatched in the realm of rock. His solos fused trem-bar madness with exotic scales for the first time. No other guitarist ever outdid Roth at using Hendrix as a stepping stone and not just a high water mark. Roth went far beyond Jimi in many ways. Roth has never been quite given his due, but his technical abilities far outshined those of the more illustrious Ritchie Blackmore, the only other true contender for the title of Father of Shred Guitar.
What made The Scorpions great in the Roth era is exactly what finally drove the gypsy guitarist from the nest. The Scorpions were on the verge of breaking out on a much larger scale and at the same time Roth had the urge to follow his more eclectic muse, so a parting of ways on made sense.
What had made The Scorpions perhaps the most interesting and progressive metal band of their time turned out to be not only what seperated Roth from the band, it also lead them to huge worldwide success. Such is the strange mix of music and commerce.
Always overlooked were the tremendous vocals supplied by Klaus Meine, as fine a singer as has ever recorded. His huge range was matched by his ability to self harmonize and creatively arrange massive amounts of overdubbed singing. I've always been stunned that he never got the acclaim he so deserved for his skills. I'll chalk it down to the band's german heritage and their tendancy to let the music do the talking.
It's not my intention to shortsell Matthias Jabs or the fine work he's done with the band, but everyone knows this already. His melodic soloing has always been one of the hooks that captured the world's ear, but he never developed a signature style as had Michael, and Uli Roth. I've always thought he might do something on his own to highlight his talents, but I remain waiting. Maybe now?
It'll be very interesting to see where this leads both Rudolph Schenker and Klaus Meine. I know Klaus has historically battled throat problems, but I certainly hope we've not heard the last of this amazing voice. As for Rudolph, maybe we'll finally get him back together with his brother (they've been promising this for years). At any rate, if we never get a note out of any of them, we all owe more than we know to the greatest German rock and roll band to ever stalk the tundra, The Scorpions.
Incidentally, I'm aware that years ago the band went to using simply Scorpions, but that's not really the band I've been writing about. Go back and find the early stuff and you'll be more than amazed. This band was so very much more than Rock You Like A Hurricane.
Thanks to a great band for so much great music for so many years.