Germany's Scorpions waited 'til 2001 to get on the unplugged bandwagon, but then they always were rather unfashionable. Recorded earlier the same year at live shows in Portugal, Acoustica is essentially a greatest-hits package, complete with the mandatory two new songs. Considering that it follows on the heels of Moment of Glory, their 2000 collaboration with the Berlin Philharmonic, it is perhaps slightly disappointing for longtime fans who can't wait for the Scorpions to rock out again. Then again, considering that those longtime fans have all grown old and gotten mortgages, Acoustica's recasting of the band's lite-rock legacy in the language of adult contemporary may just be what the doctor ordered. The track selection is entirely predictable, roping in most of the big ballad hits from the post-Lovedrive era, plus a few covers (Kansas' "Dust in the Wind," "Drive" by the Cars, and Queen's "Love of My Life"). The power chords may be missing, but Acoustica is far from stripped down: Guitarists Schenker and Jabs can't resist decorating most songs with pretty little acoustic guitar figures; this works in some cases, doesn't in others. The same goes for the Latino rhythm stylings, string sections, and lush backing vocals which make the band sound unsettlingly like Enrique Iglesias' backing group on more than one track. The final result is a sort of faceless, mid-tempo tastefulness that is oddly frustrating: You keep expecting the band to break out into the glorious, cheesy excesses they're famous for, but it just doesn't happen.
by Leslie Mathew