MTV Unplugged in Athens

Sony (2014) Kevin Fitzpatrick

Scorpions – MTV Unplugged in Athens cover artwork
Scorpions – MTV Unplugged in Athens — Sony, 2014

In the interest of full disclosure, this reviewer would like to go on record as saying that he loves The Scorpions. They are exceptional musicians and have a catalog of hard rock classics that go far beyond the power-ballads they became synonymous for in the 80's and 90's. There's been the odd misstep over the years (see Eye II Eye) but hell, they can't all be zingers.

The cd consists of 15 tracks - beautifully produced but the track selection is...interesting. Of the fifteen tracks, five songs are unreleased (in 2013. Two songs have since appeared on the band's 2015 album Return To Forever). The rest of the album consists of mainly hits, which given the unplugged treatment, have varying degrees of success. The band themselves, sound fantastic, and singer Klaus Meine has honestly never sounded better. Accompanying the Scorpions is a full string section that compliments the songs beautifully in most cases. But arrangements on some of the heavier songs, like "Rock You Like A Hurricane" and "Blackout" just plain doesn't work.

In contrast, the DVD contains the whole 25 song set. The DVD ultimately, is the winner of the two formats - here, you see just how stunning this theatre they've chosen really is. The DVD is not without its drawbacks, however, one of them being how Euro-centric it is. The guests that are invited to sing a few of the numbers are, I'm sure very famous across the Atlantic, but here? Literally not one familiar name is to be found and ultimately they do nothing to add to the proceedings. The good news is the set is much more diverse when fleshed out - including some older deep cuts that fans of the Uli-John Roth years are sure to appreciate, such as "Pictured Life" and "Speedy's Coming".

Throughout the evening, Matthias Jabs continues to show what a truly great guitarist he is - one who has really never gotten the recognition he deserves. Don't believe me? See how effortless he seems to make songs like "Send Me An Angel" and "When The Smoke Is Going Down". As always, his rock steady partner in crime, Rudolf Schenker stands (or in this case, sits) stage right, dotting every i and crossing every t with his rhythms. He's become famous as the wild card of the group, but in an acoustic setting, he really gets to shrug off the facade and show his versatility.

Overall, this isn't the great album that it could have been, but the pluses far exceed the minuses and may have just been the catalyst to the group deciding to forego their retirement.

Scorpions – MTV Unplugged in Athens cover artwork
Scorpions – MTV Unplugged in Athens — Sony, 2014

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