Almost 20 years down the road after the founding of the Scorpions in 1965, the 1984 album Love At First Sting marked a major peak of this famous band’s career. I still do not think it is their best album, though. Blackout and for sure Lovedrive really took care of this fame thing to a large extent. In other words, this new album surfed onto shore on the gigantic waves the latter two records created so well.
And a huge tsunami it indeed proved to be. The chart and certification numbers just speak by themselves. Scorpions sold an insane number of records of Love at First Sting at a scale that is very difficult to reproduce in this day and age. By 1995 the album hit Gold in Germany, twice Platinum in Canada and three times the same in the US. One gotta repeat this kind of blockbuster first.
And that data fits right in with the success in the charts – with a remarkable focus on North America. The US Billboard 200 – for instance – had the album on for a solid 63 weeks. Yet it already peaked at rank 6 in June 1984. A splendid performance!
Whereas in Western Europe the performance was more of a mixed bag. Love At First Sting landed in the mid top 10’s, which is pretty good all things considered. But it was less well received in Scandinavia and remained quite unknown in Southern Europe. So in essence, having conquered North America led this album to new and unknown heights.
Compared to Blackout, Scorpions‘ penchant towards crisp hard rock and early-age crystal-clear Heavy Metal got another booster rocket attached this time around. This proved to be too much goodness for some fans though. If I am to judge a bunch of opinion pieces I had the pleasure to read. Yet, this turn of events is – if anything – nothing new under the sun of the ’80s. Let’s not forget that just around this time Heavy Metal was on the upswing. Steeply so. Iron Maiden just released Powerslave that same year and Dio unleashed his stellar piece Holy Diver just a few months earlier in 1983. AC/DC started to reach platinum nirvana and stayed there for many years to come. Whereas bands like Krokus enjoyed one of their greatest successes.
So, in retrospect, Scorpions did not really play Starship Enterprise. And for sure did not visit places where no-one went before. Much to the contrary, they got themselves on the mainstream money train and left no real wrinkle in the space-time continuum to speak of. But all of this is fully in line with the contemporary idea of mainstream of the ’80s. This is what people liked. And – hey – whatever floats people’s boats is game, right? To be fair though, Scorpions had this knack to hit the taste buttons of the ages, and reaped the rewards for it – rightly so. Which – in part at least – explains the tremendous success Love at First Sting was able to enjoy.
Because the album itself is not all that stellar, come to think of it. Don’t think so? First, let me mention the lyrics. We surely don’t ask for poets to populate the rock and metal world. Far from it. But – boy – you need to be a real master of disaster, if you shred a text as badly as in I’m Leaving You. And that is just one song out of nine. Yet, all in life is perspective, right? And in this light, Love at First Sting just continued the momentum of the past. Thus, this should not give us much more of a hangover than Blackout ever did.
The record for sure brought its resounding successes, too. Rock You Like a Hurricane in all its deliciously salacious detail, for example. Or the aforementioned Still Loving You that took MTV and any other channel by storm. In my neck of the woods this track endlessly played on all available channels for an endless amount of months. And it shows: The single charted well in what was Western Europe back then.
Big City Nights enjoyed less enthusiasm from the fan crowd. Yet – still – it stayed on the Billboard 200 for a respectable amount of time. Now, in amongst the duds you’ll also find kind of funky, solo-laden pieces like As Soon as the Good Times Roll that have a certain merit. Love At First Sting indeed presents a few crown jewels of the Scorpions playlist. Yet those are sadly mingled into some medium-sized performances. And a couple of fillers that should never have been there in the first place. A mixed bag, and all on a painfully short track list.
To conclude, Love At First Sting owes its success largely to the prep work done with Lovedrive and – surely – the 1982 album Blackout. Those two set the course for the conquest of the North American continent, resulting in a tremendous success that still resounds to this day. Back this up with a more subdued, but still pretty stellar performance all over Europe and you got yourself a bestseller.
The record is not Scorpion‘s best, no doubt about that. But the sheer power of former glories, coupled with a few outstanding hits on Love At First Sting brought about one of the most stunning successes in their extremely long career. An album that should – without doubt – live in your music collection, if Hard Rock and Heavy Metal are anywhere near your passions.
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