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In 1980, a friend of mine gave me a cassette tape by a band he said I had to check out. I was 13 years old and new to the world of hard rock, and I was taking in everything I could get my hands on. The album was by a band called the Scorpions; it was titled Animal Magnetism. I popped in the cassette, and the opening notes of "Make It Real" blasted through my headphones. A while later the opening chords of "The Zoo" smashed into my skull, and I was changed forever.
I went to the local used record store and bought every used Scorpions album they had in stock. Soon I was an expert on the band and knew every song, lyric and guitar solo by heart. I discovered the band used to have a guitar player named Uli Jon Roth and another named Michael Schenker. I was memorized by every note. It is hard to believe that 27 years later, I am still cranking up albums by the Scorpions, including the band's latest offering, Humanity Hour I, which will be released in the United States Aug. 28.
The band has taken a new direction with the album and brought in outside songwriters, including Desmond Child, to collaborate with and take the band into the year 2007.
Humanity Hour I is a daring release as the band changes their guitar sound and writes about more mature themes than can be found in most of their biggest hits such as "Rock You Like a Hurricane," "No One Like You" and "Rhythm of Love."
Child has led band members to push themselves artistically and the result is a solid album that the band hopes will be another important chapter in their musical repertoire.
I spoke with Scorpions' vocalist Klaus Meine about the making of the new album. We discussed why they went with outside writers, as this is often seen as a sign that a band is tired and out of fresh ideas. We compared Humanity I with failed efforts of experimentation, such as the disastrous Eye II Eye album from 1999.
It became clear that Meine and the rest of the band did not hire Child to save them from oblivion. Instead, they wanted to stretch out and bring the band to the modern day but still retain the Scorpions' sting. The band worked harder on the making of this album then they have in years and they believe in the music and the global message it contains.
We also chatted about recent gigs with former guitar players Uli Jon Roth and Michael Schenker, and how the band welcomes their past with the same reverence that they welcome their future.
The Scorpions are showing signs of maturity with the release of Humanity Hour I, yet they still remember the power that comes from rock 'n' roll. The rest of 2007 sees the band touring the world once again, reminding us all that there really is no one like them.