“Do you see the microphones up in the air? Do you see them? Do you know what we’re doing tonight? We’re doing a live recording tonight!”
Those words spoken by Scorpions’ lead singer Klaus Meine are ingrained in my mind and my ears. Hearing him address his captivated audience always brings a smile to my face as I attempt to mimic his German accent by repeating his lines. When I think of the greatest live albums from the Silver Age of Heavy Metal (the 80’s), only two come to mind, Iron Maiden’s Live After Death and the Scorpions’ World Wide Live. I’ve already given Live After Death its due, so now it’s time to lend my thoughts on the other stellar live album by the most famous hard rock band to come out of Germany.
Following the release of their previous studio effort, Love At First Sting, the Scorpions embarked on their most successful world tour to date. Although not quite as extensive as Iron Maiden’s legendary World Slavery Tour, the ‘84-85 Sting Tour was still impressive. Spanning 152 dates, the Scorpions performed for thousands of fans throughout Europe, Japan, South America, Canada and 41 states in the USA. World Wide Live captures not only the intense energy of this quintet but the enthralled fans as well. The entire tour is encapsulated on this one record.
“Year after year out on the road
It’s great to be here to see you all
I know for me it is like coming home”
Released in the same year as Live After Death in 1985, World Wide Live touches on all the most popular tracks from the Scorpions four best albums; Lovedrive, Animal Magnetism, Blackout, and Love At First Sting. The period during which those four records were made (between 1979 and 1984), the Scorpions created their most lasting music and established themselves as one of the true hard rock heavyweights of the 80’s. Each track is a lesson in Simple Songwriting 101 – melodic rhythms marked by memorable lyrics that will stick in people’s minds (“Rock You Like A Hurricane”, anyone?). Their sizzling grooves and irresistible hooks are executed to perfection and highlighted by the cheering crowds. Their showmanship is nearly upstaged by the excitement of their fans.
“Day after day out on the road
There’s no place too far that we wouldn’t go
We go wherever you like to rock’n roll”
More than just a cassette tape…
When I was in high school, this was the tape my friends and I would to take down to Riverside Park next to the Mississippi River. We’d hang out all night, shoot the breeze and listen to World Wide Live on continuous playback. As the prototypical teenagers cutting our teeth on various post-puberty crises, we were indestructible and on top of the world. Our anxieties were always more important than anything else and the only things that mattered more were our self-declared independence and our music. In 1985, World Wide Live become the soundtrack for our lives and took us away to place we would only dream about.
“Year after year out on the road
It’s great to be here to rock you all
I know, for me it is like coming home
Like coming home…”
We wanted to be rock stars like the Scorpions. We wanted to come home to the stage like they did night after night. We wanted an entire audience in Paris, France singing the lyrics to “Holiday” back to us. In a way, the Scorpions allowed us to live our fantasy through them. Though unrealized, World Wide Live kept our dream alive and gave us hope. When I hear this album now, I am quickly returned to that park pavilion where the moon dances off the slick picnic tables providing the only light. My friends entertain with cigarette tricks as the music blares from the first generation jam box. For a few moments, we are rock stars.
“Let me take you far away
You’d like a holiday
Exchange the cold days for the sun
Good times and fun
Let me take you far away
You’d like a holiday”
Scorpions’ fans know that World Wide Live capped off a series of their finest work. This album is as good as it gets and will have a permanent place in the heavy metal history books. Sadly, this record will be dog-eared because it ended a marvelous run that the Scorpions would never come close to duplicating. Although, it should be remembered for more. The Scorpions will be forever defined by their 80’s brand of AOR hard rock/heavy metal and the enthusiasm of their fans world over. World Wide Live demonstrates both equally. I cannot recommend this album high enough to fans of 80’s hard rock and heavy metal.