Tales from a Metalhead: Chapter 30: Blackout

Tales from a Metalhead logo

This chapter is part of a book called Tales from a Metalhead written by Metal Express Radio’s President Stig G. Nordahl. The chapters will be posted one at the time and you can find them all here.

I actually don’t remember when I started to listen to the Scorpions. They have kind of always been there. Hailing out of the 70s of course, but I really connected to their early 80s era first. It was hard to find a mix tape in my collection in the 80s without some Scorpions tracks on it. I even listened to ballads every now and then, which I rarely do now. Everyone knows “Still Loving You” and “Holiday,” which were often found on these tapes. As I got to know the band’s back catalog I found ballads that I like even more, like “Lady Starlight” and “When The Smoke Is Going Down.” Maybe just because the most famous ones were played to death. I won’t even go into the song with the whistling on it… At least not yet. The ballads obviously gave the band a lot of attention. Hey, why am I talking about the ballads? I am not really a sucker for ballads at all. Scorpions rock! The tasty and catchy guitar licks and solos by Rudolph Schenker and Matthias Jabs, not to forget Michael Schenker’s earlier contributions along with Uli Jon Roth. …and there is of course Klaus Meine’s nasal, but very likable voice.

The very first album I got by the band was actually Fly To The Rainbow (1974). It was just accidental that this became my first album by the band. It was probably low priced or a present. I don’t remember. Being into their early 80s music it didn’t strike me that this 70s release would sound very different being released in a different decade with a different lineup. It was a huge disappointment back then, but the album grew on me many years later. There is some really good stuff on there. I just had to mature a bit and get ready for the 70s vibe.

The Blackout (1982) and Love at First Sting (1984) albums were the ones I played to death. There was a long wait between Love at First Sting and the next album, Savage Amusement (1988). But the live album World Wide Live (1985) shortened the wait. I love that album; 4 sides of pure gold. In my humble opinion, the album can stand up to Live After Death, Strangers in the Night, Live… in the Heart of the City, and Made in Japan. It’s definitely on my top 5 list. The only thing I never liked was how they sometimes would extend tracks by just playing noise instead of just ending the song in a normal way. I tried to get my hands on the VHS concert video for years, but I never succeeded. I saw it for the first time just a few years back on YouTube. World Wide Live sums up the early 80s era in a perfect way. Just like Tokyo Tapes (1978) does for the 70s. Another brilliant live album!

Savage Amusement tour

When Savage Amusement was finally released a lot of people claimed the band had lost their edge and that they were overproduced. I see what they mean, but I enjoyed the album nonetheless. It doesn’t hold the same standard as the previous ones though. I think the real downfall started with the next album. The band came to Norway for a press conference to promote Savage Amusement. They didn’t do one-to-one interviews. Well, at least I didn’t get the offer. Instead, the whole band was lined up at the SAS hotel in Oslo to answer questions from the press. This was one of the first times I experienced being at a press conference with reporters from the tabloid papers; guys that don’t have a clue about the band and that probably don’t like the albums either. They were only there because Scorpions was a big band and their questions were always nonsense. At least to music reporters who were into the band and had a genuine interest in having their more in-depth questions answered. Those questions would of course not fit the tabloid format. I brought my cassette recorder with a looong yellow cable (that you can see in the picture) connected to the mic that I had to place in front of the band. I have told you before, but I hate it when I cannot record my own questions. It is so much harder to edit. What to do? Retake questions? Just play parts with explanations from the studio? I don’t remember how I solved it back then and I can’t even find the tape. It was cool to see the band of course, so I took a lot of pics with my pocket cam.

Scorpions press conference in Oslo 1989

During the press conference, Matthias Jabs scribbled down some drawings on a paper in front of him. Maybe he was bored because Klaus and Rudolph always talk a lot! I grabbed the drawings after the press conference was over. They’re probably not worth much, but it’s a nice memory. He isn’t too bad at drawing actually. I had planned to display the drawings here for fun, but I couldn’t locate them right now. Will post later!

Janet Gardner Vixen
Janet Gardner from Vixen on tour with Scorpions

The band returned to Norway during the Savage Amusement Tour. This was the first time I saw the band live. They played here at Drammenshallen in January 1989. They brought Vixen with them as a support act which was cool. Vixen had just released their debut album and were on a hype train as an all-female band. Scorpions didn’t do interviews during the tour, but Vixen did of course to use the opportunity to promote their album. Drummer Roxy Petrucci, who we already knew from Madame X, and vocalist Janet Gardner did interviews before the show. I got an interview scheduled with the latter. It is far from my best interview as I was quite new to the whole thing, but Janet was really nice. I still have the tape, but I’ll never post it online. We actually still run the station ID on Metal Express Radio that she made 33 years ago. What I remember the most is that she put on lipstick before taking our picture. Appearance is everything! I believe this is the most 80s looking picture I have, mostly thanks to Janet. I didn’t meet Roxy before the show, but we met backstage at Sweden Rock Festival in 2014. They had just released a new single and played their comeback show at the festival. It was cool to see them live. I had an interview appointment a couple of hours after the show. I went to the backstage bar to kill some time. When it was time for the interview I had already had a bunch of beers, but as soon as I came to the Madame X camp I was obviously not the only one in a party mood. The band members were celebrating the show and the comeback. We were pouring down red wine

Party with Madam X

before, during, and after the interview. It was a great time! Maxine was walking me down to the gate. I think we actually walked hand in hand. Just in a friendly manner of course. Her husband was present as tour manager… or was that Roxy’s husband? I am not sure.

In 1989, Scorpions went back to Russia to attend the Moscow Music Peace Festival. Scorpions were one of the few bands that actually had played behind the iron curtain. There is so much to read about that event. I wasn’t there so I won’t go into that, but it was exciting to see the broadcast with Scorpions sharing the bill along with Mötley Crüe, Ozzy, Cinderella, and Bon Jovi. The biggest downside is that the experience inspired the band to write “Winds of Change”. Here comes the whistling… Another important ballad for the band, of course. It charted in many countries, but I just found it really annoying. The track found its place on the next record Crazy World (1990). This is where I started to lose interest. There are some really good tracks on the album like “Tease Me Please Me” and “Hit Between the Eyes”. Maybe some more that I cannot recall as I haven’t listened to the album since it was new. They even added another ballad “Send Me An Angel.” I think that became a minor hit as well.

Matthias and Klaus returned to Oslo for another promotional tour before the album was released. This time it was a one-on-one interview. Well, one-on-two actually because I talked to them both. We met in a suite at the Radisson Plaza Hotel; a brand new and super modern hotel in Oslo at the time. The guys were amused by a remote control that would control the curtains, lights, and pretty much everything in the room. The first few minutes of my time were spent playing with that thing. I had lined up a lot of questions, but when we started the interview the guys talked so much when answering each question that I felt I barely had started when the PR woman from the label opened the door and showed me the cutthroat sign. I threw in one more question and of course, I took another ten minutes for the guys to answer that. The PR contact became rather furious when I didn’t leave the room so she came back in while the guys were still blabbering. I felt I couldn’t interrupt them either. I had planned to take a photo with the guys, but after running over time and with this furious PR person I didn’t even dare to ask. I just had to gather my stuff and get out of there.

The band members were really cool with everything though. I guess I should have given the photo priority, but I never expected the answers to be that long. I actually found the tape from the interview. It is obvious that the batteries on the tape recorder were running low because our voices were high-pitched when I played it. I’ve tried to edit it back to near normal speed. What I didn’t remember from the interview is how pissed the guys were at their longtime producer Dieter Dierks and how happy they were to get out of the deal for the new album.

The band returned to Oslo for the tour. At the time there was a new arena in the center of Oslo, called Oslo Spektrum, that had just opened. Norwegian Pop band A-ha was the very first band to play there as far as I remember, but Scorpions was the second and the first Hard Rock act at that. Well, that is not completely true. Winger was the support band and they played first of course. I did an interview with Winger before the show. I’ll get to that in a later chapter I guess.

After this, I’ve never had much interest in Scorpions’ new releases. Particularly not after the Eye II Eye (1999) album that was a complete disaster and a poor effort to sound modern. Even the band admit that today. Scorpions headlined the Sweden Rock Festival that same year. They put on a solid show as always, but new tracks like “Du Bist So Schmutzig” (You’re so Dirty) made me laugh more than rock.

Klaus Meine at Sweden Rock in 2004

Scorpions visited Sweden Rock Festival several times. In 2004 the band did another press conference. I didn’t bother to record it for reasons I have explained earlier. I had one goal though, that was to have Klaus Meine to record a Metal Express Radio station ID. When the press conference was over and the band was on their way out of the tent, I yelled for Klaus to come back to record the ID. The security guys tried to stop me, but Klaus was cool and came back. This was back in the terrible MiniDisc days. If you check out the first chapter you can read about an ID I did with David Coverdale that I thought didn’t make it to the disc (which it had, but was deleted later by accident). Well, this time I was in a rush as the band waited for Klaus. I really thought I was recording this time, but as Klaus left I noticed the MD didn’t record it. I didn’t dare to call him back again. We have several Scorpions station IDs, but none by Klaus. Dang!

Klaus and Matthias live

I have seen the band several more times live later, both in Oslo and at the Sweden Rock Festival. At one of the shows, original guitarist Uli Jon Roth came on as a special guest. That prompted the band to play more of their older material, which was great. Put on Sails of Charon… Say No More!

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  • Stig G. Nordahl

    Stig is the founder and the president of Metal Express Radio, based out of Oslo, Norway. He has been around doing Metal radio since the mid-eighties. In fact, running Metal Express Radio takes almost all of his time. Is it worth it...? "Most times, yes," Stig says. "My philosophy is to try to give all Metal releases a fair chance to get promoted in one way or another. As you can imagine, it can be an arduous task to listen through about 20 albums every week! Still, I know we have the best METAL dedicated radio on this planet, and that is a reward in and of itself. I hope one day the whole Metal community can and will make listening to Metal Express Radio part of their daily rituals! Yeah, right..."

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