Scorpions – Eye II Eye (1999, Koch Records)
- To Be No. 1
- 10 Light Years Away
- Mind Like A Tree
- Eye To Eye
- What U Give U Get Back
- Yellow Butterfly
- Freshly Squeezed
- Du Bist So Schmutzig
- A Moment In A Million Years
Klaus Meine – Vocals
Rudolf Schenker – Guitars
Matthias Jabs – Guitars
Ralph Rieckermann – Bass
James Kottak – Drums
Producer & Keyboards: Peter Wolf
Total Time – 1:02:49
After such a great run of success from 1982 through 1993, the Scorpions stuggled to find an identity in the fast changing world of Rock music. After the poor sales of 1996’s PURE INSTINCT, the band was faced with either disbanding, becoming an act based on nostalgia, or they could try something new. Deciding to continue as a working band, the Scorpions released the highly experimental EYE II EYE (1999).
Opening the album, ‘Mysterious’ treads a thin boundary between modern ’90s Rock (U2) and the LOVE AT FIRST STING era. The drums are more an electronic sound than a true drum sound and the bass is very prominent during the verses. This lends the Pop sensibility to the track but the guitars do kick in during the chorus. This recording is nothing compared to the live version. I had the pleasure of seeing the band on this tour and I can vouch that ‘Mysterious’ comes out harder, more like true Scorpions, in the live setting.
‘To Be No. 1’ is the first single and video from the album…..unfortunately. ‘To Be No. 1′ is highly experimental in employing an obvious drum machine, cheap keyboards, and a bit of “funky’ bass. The guitars do kick in at the bridge but disappear during the chorus. Is that a Bon Jovi-esque talk-box I hear as well or is it an electronically distorted guitar solo? Either way, I can’t tell. This is Electronica at it’s worst and certainly not the band’s strong suit. Fans were obviously confused when they heard the hard rockin’ Scorpions doing dance music.
Thankfully, ‘Obsession’ is a nice simple ballad. Say what you want about the Scorpions and ballads but they do them well and ‘Obsession’ is a welcome attraction after the previous song. The feature here are the vocals of Klaus Meine, who sounds the same as he did in the early ’80s. There is also some nice acoustic guitar guiding the vocal to the chorus.
Ballad #2 is ’10 Light Years Away’. Normally two ballads in a row would kill an album but the Scorpions do have a serious pedigree in the art form. Kottak keeps decent time while Jabs and Schenker layer acoustics with the vocal. Again, nice and simple and Klaus is in fine voice. My only complaint is Klaus’ famed tambourine is way up front in the mix and it gives it a slight Pop feel. Still, the song is a winner.
‘Mind Like A Tree’ is harder than the previous songs but the music leans toward the combination of Grunge/Alternative and late ’90s Rock like Creed. Another attempt to be current and trendy, especially at the breakdown three minutes in where the band uses some keyboards. The guitars are heavy but not the typical Scorpions sound. Like ‘Mysterious’, this song is better in concert than it is on record but it is one of the stronger tracks on EYE II EYE.
The title track is ballad #3 and it’s a combination of ‘Obsession’ and ’10 Light Years Away’. The vocal and guitars are similar to ‘Obsession’ while the tempo and percussion give it the mainstream Pop sound like ’10 Light Years Away’. Actually, the drums sound too electronic and processed.
‘What U Give U Get Back’…..ballad #4. This is a solid ballad, the only criticism is the keyboard loop that is very prominent during the verses. The loop is trying to sound like percussion but it’s just bad. Pull that out and keep it all acoustic and you have a winner. Again, Klaus Meine’s vocals are the highlight with the rare electric guitar solo smack in the middle. This sounds like ’80s Scorpions.
I want to call ‘Skywriter’ ballad #5 but it borders between ballad and mid-tempo. The song does kick in a little around the chorus but it retains that dance-oriented drum sound. I also don’t like the little drum fills that are put in to fatten the sound, they sound hollow and too perfect. As with the rest of the songs so far, the acoustic guitars are a nice compliment to the overall guitar sound but on ‘Skywriter’ they are over powered by the funky bass and drum machine. It’s a quiet song and I like it, it’s something different, but by this time I want to Rock out.
‘Yellow Butterfly’ follows the ‘Skywriter’ mid-tempo model but it kicks in a little come the chorus. Obviously, the band is focusing on their strong suit (Klaus’ vocals) because this is another “quiet” song during the verses. Three minutes in there is a breakdown with some poor keyboard and guitar effects that lead to a quick guitar solo. Overall, I still like the acoustic guitar as a base and, is that a sitar I hear in the background? I could be mistaken but it sounds like one and, if it is, it adds to the acoustic backing. It’s a decent song but it’s sounds like the others, not much originality.
The Scorpions try and be too modern on ‘Freshly Squeezed’, very U2. It tries to be hard during the chorus, dance-pop during the verses, and is keyboard and drum machine laden. At one point you barely hear a basic guitar! I skip this song everytime.
Finally the band decides to do what they do best and Rock out. I could hear ‘Priscilla’ coming from CRAZY WORLD (1990) or FACE THE HEAT (1993). There are electric guitars, what sounds like real drums, and barely any keyboards. A welcome change for sure! The lyrics are a bit odd but Scorpions lyrics have always been that way. ‘Priscilla’ is a winner on this record and I think it would have been a better lead single than the experimental ‘To Be No. 1’. This is a favorite of mine on this record.
It’s a little hard to believe that the band has never recorded a song in their native German tongue until ‘Du Bist So Schmutzig’. Of course, I have no idea what the words to the song mean because they are in German but I can tell you that the James Kottak rap (in English) at the bridge is just awful and unnecessary. The music is upbeat and reminds me of Def Leppard around the SLANG (1996) era.
‘Aleyah’ is another modern sounding Rock track that retains it’s heaviness and could have come from a previous Scorpions album. Aside from the poor chorus (“Aleyah” sung over and over by the backing vocalists), the song is very good. Klaus is in fine form and there are more electric guitars…..there is even a guitar solo! This would have been a good lead single/video…..it’s a little experimental and modern in the chorus area but the song does retain a classic Scorpions vibe. This is one of my favorites on the album.
‘A Moment In A Million Years’ closes the album and is Ballad #5, or did I count ‘Skywriter’ #5? Either way, it’s another ballad but definitely the best ballad here. Very simple: a superb vocal over a piano accompaniment. There is also orchestration but there is no credit in the liner notes so I am assuming that it’s orchestration via the keyboards.
Experimental, modern, electronica, dance-pop, light, mostly ballads and mid-tempo. Basically the Scorpions are searching for an audience AND an identity at the end of the 1990s. This is definitely only for the diehard Scorpions fan or a completist collector that needs to have everything the band does (like me).
The album is average at best but I like most of it. It’s not my favorite Scorpions album, and I would certainly rate it as one of the lesser ones overall, but there is enough contained herein to almost salvage it. I admit to being a little biased because I saw the tour (with Deep Purple & Dio) and the songs they played from the album translated better live due to the lack of electronic studio effects.