Monday, May 10, 2010

Scorpions: "Loving You Sunday Morning"

Got in one of my periodic metal moods the other day. Metal is good for working out in the gym. This time around it was the Scorpions.

Priest, I decided last time, was about precision. Scorpions have a little of that, too, but the overall impression is slightly different; one of orderliness. (I'm talking classic Scorps here: I know nothing about them before Lovedrive.) Drawing on my high-school level knowledge of music I can observe that their basic mode is the constant monotonal eighth-note rhythm of the second guitar and bass in unison, over which they lay various carefully-measured riffs and fills. "Can't Live Without You" is maybe the best example of it.

"Loving You Sunday Morning," though, is my favorite Scorps. It has all their virtues. Again, that absolutely orderly (the essentialist idea of German efficiency springs to mind, and for all their bad-boy posturings I do think the Scorps embody that) rhythmic bed. At the time it sounded so hard, so much less squishily human than anything else on the radio - now that metal has explored all sorts of industrial hells, the essential safeness of the Scorps is revealed. But that's not a bad thing, either.

Over it they have a melody that's almost - dare I say it? - soulful. That chorus, with those careful harmonies - it's a late spring Sunday morning driving fast on the back roads in dappled sunshine through the deep woods, maybe the mountains. A German car, of course, black interior, but it doesn't have to be a Benz; a VW is more like it. Maybe even a microbus - it's still the '70s, after all. Anyway, you're tooling along, the road's got enough dips and curves to be exhilarating, you've got a pile of tapes in the passenger seat, all's right with the world, no emotional baggage, just pure clean feeling. The Scorps' limited English works in their favor: "I never ever want to lose your love / so I will change my life." It's jejune, and it captures some kind of youthful sincerity in love. When was the last time you were willing to change your life for someone? And why?

The guitar solo. The solo itself, yeah, but more than that how they lead into it. "Ahhhh" - that soft psychedelic touch, the gentle introduction of a tragic mood - "bapbapbapbapbap" - the rising tension - and then dig how neatly and certainly they carry you over the top of the roller coaster, and zooom, the guitar solo kicks in. The rhythm changes to something a little more agitated, while still quite orderly and clean, and the guitar solo comes in to rearrange your face a little bit. Let it: you'll look better once it's done.

It's a classic bit of pop songcraft, is what it is, delivered in a metal sonic vocabulary that was still fresh in 1979.

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