Scorpions

Tokyo Tapes

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If you played in a hard rock band during the '70s, what were you likely to be doing circa 1978? Why, recording a live album, of course. Preferably a double vinyl set, and in Japan to boot. The Scorpions were no exception, and in fact, their Tokyo Tapes were captured only days after Cheap Trick's At Budokan in April 1978. Though hardly as inspired or successful, the Tokyo Tapes set still serves as an ideal greatest-hits collection of the Scorpions' first decade. This recording also showcases the spectacular playing (and occasionally, the dreadful singing) of guitarist Uli Jon Roth, who would soon leave the band for a misguided solo career, but displays some jaw-dropping technique here, most notably on the epic "We'll Burn the Sky." The rest of the band also puts in competent performances on such early standards as "In Trance," "Fly to the Rainbow," and "Speedy's Coming." The material on disc one is consistently strong, and though a number of pointless covers ("Houng Dog," "Long Tall Sally") and that most dreaded concert spectacle -- the drum solo -- break the flow on disc two, the band still closes strong with the crowd-pleasing Japanese folk song "Kojo No Tsuki" and frenetic versions of "Dark Lady" and "Robot Man." Ultimately, if you have any curiosity about the Scorpions' early material, Tokyo Tapes provides the perfect introduction.

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