I walked into Mother’s Records in Winnipeg in late 1978 ready to buy Kiss Alive II, but hesitated when I heard a new, different live album playing through the store speakers. This was the first time I had ever heard of Scorpions, let alone their music, and I was quickly absorbed by the album. Suffice to say I left the store with `Tokyo Tapes’ rather than the album I had come to purchase.
Scorpions had yet to reach star status internationally, but in Japan, the second largest musical market in the world, the band were already legitimate superstars. Following the release of `Taken By Force’, it was only natural that Scorpions would tour Japan. The response of the fans, plus the sheer energy coming off the stage, prompted the group to record two sessions at Budokhan (only days after Cheap Trick’s recordings), and those recordings became `Tokyo Tapes’.
If you don’t have any early Scorpions, this could serve as a worthy introduction. They hit all the high points of their first four albums (excluding `Lonesome Crow’), as well as throwing in a few covers (unneccesary, in my opinion), and winning the crowd even more with their rendition of the Japanese folk song, “Kojo No Tsuki”. Even though the sound quality is at times muddled, what shines through is the musicianship. Klaus Meine is on his game, the rythym section thunders, Rudolf Schenker shows adept ability, but it’s Uli Jon Roth’s virtuoso, and at times otherworldly playing that is the highlight here. His performance alone is worth the price of the album – check out the playing on “Robot Man” and “We’ll Burn The Sky” and you’ll see what I mean. This is the last Scorpions album of any sort that Roth plays on, and his departure and subsequent addition of Mattias Jabs clearly defines the transition between the “old” Scorpions sound and “new”, cleaner Scorpions sound.