I’m disappointed with Scorpions; they issued one of their best albums to date in 2010 with Sting In The Tail after spending the past 20 years issuing lackluster records. Since that time they announced their retirement then rescinded it. Which is fine because they are an incredible live band; however it’s the things that they’ve done since Sting In The Tail that has me feeling indifferent about the band.
In 2011 they recorded a number of Scorpions classics which didn’t capture the energy of the original recordings. In addition they recorded a handful covers and packaged them together as Comeblack. As you might imagine it wasn’t well received; it was contrived and haphazardly put together. I understand the reasoning behind recording the classics for licensing for use in film, TV or commercials. They would have been best suited for the long overdue Scorpions box set that that’s been talked about for a number of years now. As a stand alone release it simply didn’t cut it.
This brings us to Unplugged In Athens which was recorded in Athens, Greece in September of 2013 for MTV Europe. If you’ve followed Scorpions you know they’ve done the ‘unplugged’ thing already. In 2001 they recorded an acoustic record in Portugal with horrific results. It was more ‘world music’ than rock ‘n’ roll. The new arrangements didn’t work and the whole thing was overindulgent and grueling to listen to. You can say the same for Unplugged In Athens. They cover most of the same ‘hits’ in this performance and it fares slightly better but not by much. Again the arrangements don’t always hit the mark and again there’s too many people on stage, too many nameless ‘guests’ and a drum solo that is as unnecessary as it is long.
It would have been interesting if Scorpions did revisit the ‘unplugged’ concept and go into the studio with nine or ten classics to record them acoustically. Truly acoustically as in acoustic instruments with limited percussion; that would have been something. In the end Unplugged In Athens serves as a release for the curious or those that haven’t listened to or missed the 2001 Acoustica release. There are a handful of shining moments but those were few and far between like “Can’t Live Without You,” “The Best Is Yet To Come,” “Send Me An Angel,” “Still Loving You,” “Big City Nights,” “Wind Of Change,” and “No One Like You.” The rest was predominantly flat. While Scorpions are in full cash grab mode you just know they’re in discussion to revisit the symphony idea — again. We know how well that worked the first time around, don’t we?