Since they announced their “farewell” in 2010, the Scorpions’ activity level has curiously taken the opposite route. With a hodgepodge of four albums in as many years, including re-recorded hits and covers, live material and an original studio prior to this acoustic offering, this band’s last breath is turning into more of a creative heave.
This first-ever MTV Unplugged album recorded in an open-air venue, at Athens’ Lycabettus Theatre in late 2013, is wiped clean of “stripped” clichés. The strength here lies within the custom modifications of classic cuts, as well as five new tracks special to the occasion. Let a collective jaw be dropped at the beauty in which A-ha vocalist Marten Harket duets with the ageless-piped Klaus Meine on the 1990 ode to glasnost, “Wind of Change,” or the folk accents within “When The Smoke Is Going Down,” with Swedish musician Hans Gardemar on accordion, augmented by an eight-piece Greek string section.
Guitarist Rudolph Schenker’s lead vocal on the gorgeous new ballad, “Love is the Answer,” is an eloquent curveball, while the duet with German pop/folk songstress CÄTHE on “In Trance” rages with shadowy orchestral intensity. Even the anthemic “Rock You Like a Hurricane” swells with a Wagnerian-wind pump of classical inspiration.
A sensual accomplishment in arrangement, the Scorpions don’t require amplification to lay down a good sting.
– Mark Uricheck