After the excitement of seeing Accept the other week it's great to find that Germany's most famous rock band – The Scorpions - are firing on all cylinders with their latest album 'Sting In The Tail'.
I want to ensure I use my column to showcase fantastic rock and Metal albums which the mainstream music press tend to ignore. And because this is likely to be The Scorpions last ever studio album, it's a genuinely sad moment in music.
This album came out in March 2010 and has been playing on my I-pod ever since for two key reasons. Firstly, the band has very sadly announced their retirement and are mid-way through their last ever world tour. And secondly, because quite simply it is bloody brilliant.
It's a massive pedal-to-the-Metal rock album that just crackles with energy from the first riffs of opener 'Raised in Rock' and just keeps going to a surprisingly emotional close. I cannot recommend it highly enough.
So who are the Scorpions? Let's be honest if you're under 35 you probably won't know much other than 'Wind of Change', which turns up on every dreary rock compilation and Father's day album going! But this is the band that took the US by storm in the 1980's with their classic album 'Blackout', and has been touring for over 40 years!
I saw them in the UK in 2005 as special guests of Judas Priest and they were stunning – quite literally rocking Hammersmith like a hurricane!
Distilling all the best moments of their career into a retirement album could go horribly wrong but The Scorpions have made it sound easy. Opening track 'Raised on Rock' has a fresh, driving riff that immediately sets the tone.
Guitarists Rudolf Schenker and Mathias Jabs sizzle with controlled power and vocalist Klause Meine sounds incredible. But it's second track 'Sting In The Tail' that really takes it up a notch into pure fist-pumping stadium rock territory with a huge stomping Germanic riff and an air-guitar chorus. It's irresistible.
There's more to it than party rock though and slower number, 'The Good Die Young', is a surprisingly emotive take on the tragedy of young life lost in war. Up-tempo tracks 'No Limit' and 'Rock Zone' just burn out of my speakers and there's a real control and class to the riffs, which makes you want to play the tracks again and again.
What's so outstanding about this album is that, whereas Whitesnake or Accept are firing on all cylinders – but in a classic, timeless way, 'Sting In The Tail' sounds modern, fresh and urgent. There's a huge nod to their classic-era sound but this is very much a 2010 release.
The ballads are out in force too – fans of 'Wind Of Change' will be in their element! Lorelei is predictably cheesy but 'SLY' (Still Loving You) is relatively sincere and very hard not to like. But my favourite moment is album closer, 'The Best Is Yet To Come.' This is a huge crowd-pleaser and, for me, definitely a major nod to their impending retirement.
Building to a fantastic anthemic chorus Klaus Meine sings: "And how can I live without you, you're such a part of me. And you've always been the one keeping me forever young. And the best is yet to come." And the power-ballad highlight of the year kicks in when he roars: "How can we grow old when the soundtrack of our lives is Rock 'n' Roll?"
It's a brilliant closer and packs a massive emotional punch. The Scorpions have been one of the world's great rock bands and they will be missed. 'Sting In The Tail' is without question one of The Scorpions greatest moments and a fitting end to their career.
With Accept flying the flag for Metal, The Scorpions proving their class and Whitesnake on incredible form, I think the bar has been raised for Judas Priest. Come on guys. If you're going to consider retiring, please don't let the patchy 'Nostradamus' be your legacy. Take note of the Scorpions' 'Sting In The Tail'.