The Scorpions Remain Optomistic


September 28, 2007

It is only natural to approach new albums by classic bands with skepticism, so doubt if you must. But I’ve listened to the new Scorpions album, Humanity Hour 1 like a hundred times since I got it, and not because I needed that much, you know, interview prep, but because it freakin’ rocks.

The press and the band have been touting this as the Scorpions’ “best in years.” Vocalist Klaus Meine (whose voice sounds fantastic!) says that the record stands out as a return to the rock, but also as a collaboration with some of the music industry’s heavy-hitter songwriters and producers. Humanity producer Desmond Child, who also co-wrote many of the tracks, has had a writing credit on hits for many of rock’s most popular bands, including Kiss, Bon Jovi and Aerosmith (not to mention his fine work on “The Thong Song”). As a result the record has a palpably commercial feel and sound, with big, memorable hooks and radio-friendly melodies.

Meine explains: “To make an album with Desmond Child, it’s also a decision when you want him as a producer, since he is such a legendary songwriter, of course you want him to be involved in the songwriting process as well. So this time that’s probably what’s really different from most of the albums we did — it was a collaboration … and when Desmond came up with the concept and the idea of Humanity Hour 1, we went along with it and it gave the record a red line, and I think it’s not only an album with lots of attitude that has a powerful rock feeling, it’s also an album that carries a message.”

The album’s “concept” is fairly loose — despite a theme in the artwork and some of the tracks of humanity on the brink (of disaster?), it also works as simply a collection of songs showing off what the Scorpions have always done best — big rockers about rocking (“321”), lovely ballads (“The Future Never Dies,” “Love Will Keep Us Alive”), and a touch of politics (“Humanity”).

Though the album’s overall imagery and the band’s sound on concept-defining tracks like “Humanity” and “Hour 1” tend toward dark and heavy, Meine maintains that the Scorpions message is one of hope and love, in the face of a much needed global wake-up call, saying “when I sing ‘humanity goodbye’ of course it means ‘humanity it’s time.’ I’m singing ‘humanity goodbye’ but it’s an ironic way or a more drastic way to get this kind of global awareness in music.”

Meine acknowledges that “a song cannot change the world,” but remains dedicated to the idea of the healing and healing power of music.

“We know what impact music has,” says Meine, “especially on a young generation, and we see, in all the places we go to, especially when you play concerts in the Middle East, like in Israel, or even in Cairo in front of the pyramids, you see how much music is connecting people. And this is what we try to do with our songs — connect people and try to add something out there sending positive energy and bring[ing] the world to a better balance in the sense that hopefully we can all live together in a more peaceful world … We saw the impact of music when we played in Russia in ’88, ’89 in the old Soviet Union, surrounded by KGB agents, and we saw the world changing right in front of our eyes, and we saw the Cold War end. Rock music definitely had a huge impact on the young generation in the Soviet Union back then — the world was changing. So we are always very optimistic that music has a very connecting, a very healing kind of effect.”

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