Scorpions – Minden 1974 (Zodiac 491)

Minden 1974 (Zodiac 491) 

Grille, Minden, West Germany – May 3, 1974 

(73:51) Hey Little Woman, Far Away, This Is My Song, They Need A Million, Drifting Sun, Fly To The Rainbow, Hey Hey Hey, Far Across The Ocean, Speedy’s Coming, Long Tall Sally, Johnny B. Goode, Voodoo Child (incl. Third Stone From The Sun) 

In August of 2021 a recording appeared that many fans had hoped would, a live performance of Scorpions with Michael Schenker on lead guitar from the Lonesome Crow era. The recording was made by a music fan named Herb Smith. Scorpions were opening for UFO who were certainly taking a hard look at Schenker who would soon leave Scorpions and join the British Hard Rock act. Surprisingly, this recording never made it past the CD-R titles, the quality of the recording, for its age, is excellent. A little over a year later Herb would record the Scorpions again, Michael was long gone and the band now featured another virtuoso guitarist, Uli Jon Roth. 

Herb had updated his recording gear from a UHER 714 Reel to Reel Deck and “Quelle” Single Dynamic Cardioid Mic to a Sony TC 377 Reel 2 Reel Deck and Sony ECM 100 or 101 Mic, the results are excellent. Herb’s 47 year old recording is excellent, the balance is near perfect, all vocals and instruments are clear and well defined. There is a small amount of tape hiss but nothing that interferes, this is an excellent capture and sounds quite powerful at loud volumes, for fans of Scorpions this is an essential document. This recording came with some notes from the taper I think are worth reading, take it away Herb: 

In Herb’s original words …
12 and a half month after their 1973 concert, opening for UFO, the Scorpions returned to Minden with a new line up. Michael Schenker had left the band, moved to England, joined UFO and was the major influence on their new, third album PHENOMENON. Only Rudolf Schenker and Klaus Meine remained from the original Scorpions and merged with “Dawn Road” members Uli Roth, Francis Buchholz and Jürgen Rosenthal, using the Scorpions name, as the massive concert schedule and the 1972 album Lonesome Crow had established this band name on the German Live scene.

In early 1974 I had changed my Uher 724L tape machine for a Sony TC 377, 3 May was the second time I carried it to the legendary “Zur Grille“ concert hall . I knew the members of the local opener ADDITION, so it was easy to get access to the venue early in the afternoon. As usual I positioned my gear in the middle of the hall, got the right level and mic position during the soundcheck. I well remember that Rudi Schenker came to me to talk about the tape machine, he had bought the same model for his father and both we were very impressed by it´s performance. In no way was he against my intention to record his band that night, maybe because we were known to each other, as I had visited him in Laatzen (Hannover) in late ’73, to buy parts of the Scorpions former PA system.
These circumstances made it possible to documentate the band in it’s new incarnation with new material, not even recorded yet for their forthcoming album, released in November of 1974.

That nights setlist mainly drafted from their new stuff , no songs from the “Lonesome Crow“ album anymore. It needed not more than 2 minutes of their opening song to make clear, that with Uli Roth the band had found a guitarist to fill the big shoes of Michael Schenker. Melodic, easy accessible Hard Rock was the formula, sometimes contrasting with Roth’s spacy Hendrix influenced material. Nearly 20 minutes of the set were dedicated to R&R classics and lengthy guitar improvisations. Maybe at that time they lacked more stage ready original material.

After This Is My Song, Meine referrs to the Scorpions last appearance in Minden with than lead guitarist Michael Schenker. “Last time we were here in Minden, some of you will have heard, we played with Michael, Michael Schenker, he played lead guitar with us, we played with UFO, some of you will recall, ya, (pause …, laughs) – since than he plays with UFO…(long pause) that’s life … in this respect, Minden does have a certain significance for our group.“ This underlines what Rudi Schenker and Klaus Meine said in several interviews: The 1973 Minden concert seemed to be Michael’s initial step towards leaving the band and joining UFO. Not to forget my old friend Vestus, from the earliest schooldays until today! He was the guy, who dragged the heavy tape machine and all our gear (on foot), all the kilometers from my parents house to the Grille location, and back home late in the night.. We were 16: Whereas I invested every Mark and Pfennig into my recording system, his main interest became photography with main focus on live music. Herewith you can see the beautiful results of his efforts from that very night !

The recording begins with Hey Little Woman, a simple Rock and Roll song, it was part of their live set for some time as it appears on the live recordings from 1973 to 1976 and was never released on an album. Far Away would be released on Fly To The Rainbow yet dates back to earlier incarnations of Scorpions. A bit more ballad like it features an excellent solo by Uli, interesting to hear this version to the 1973 one with Michael. Uli was 19 years old at the time of this recording, incredible to listen to his playing as it is stunning. We get into familiar territory with the excellent This Is My Song, the band was in the process of recording Fly To The Rainbow, this sounds very close to the studio version. 

Klaus’ between song chatter is all in German, he gives a long introduction to They Need A Million thankfully partially transcribed in the notes. The song features the vocals of both Klaus and Rudolph giving the song a unique contrast, it seems near complete although the ending is awkward. Drifting Sun is early Uli classic, its Hendrix influence is obvious and he plays a bit more free form than the structure of the previous songs. It’s obvious this song is still in progress, the lyrics have not been completely defined. Even in this working stage it is a force, once refined it will become classic. I am also very much enjoying the drumming of Jurgen Fechter, more of a percussive drummer versus straight ahead Rock, just what this material needed. 

Fly To The Rainbow has origins that date back to Michael Schenker’s time in the band as he is listed as co writer, If I had to guess the opening portion was his, the psychedelic dream portion is certainly all Uli, very heavy in this version and some very nice improvisational playing and lyrics, Uli’s dive bombs finish the song proper in a blaze of haze. Hey Hey Hey is a clap and sing along jam, from here it goes into the Alice Cooper song Halo Of Flies from the Killer, Klaus loosely improvises the lyrics focusing on “I crossed the ocean”. This is an obscure reference most would not have caught but a few listeners did thankfully correcting this concert as well as May 5, 1975 which Halo was also played at. 

I first heard Speedy’s Coming on the Best Of Scorpions compilation, that cassette started my love with the 70’s Scorpions output. Speedy is a nickname of Rudolph Schenker, the Alice Cooper reference is now obvious. A tape flip follows and we are back with a couple of Rock n Roll classics jam style with Long Tall Sally into Johnny B Goode, the band is smoking and Uli rips some killer leads. Uli takes lead vocals on the latter with Klaus singing harmony of the chorus. Again Uli plays the leads straight with no effects pedals. The band says goodnight afterwards and a tape pause, the recording picks up with Uli taking a quick solo spot then breaks into the familiar opening of Voodoo Child (Slight Return) played as an instrumental although Uli does a spoken word thing in the middle. About four minutes in Uli breaks into Third Stone From The Sun. This encore jam is played with just Uli, Jorgen, and the great Francis Bucholz on bass. Having seen Uli several times, seeing him interpret and pay homage to Hendrix is always a personal highlight. 

The packaging is excellent, the source of the recording also included photos from the night, the inserts are wonderfully adorned with these intimate shots. The front and rear cover also use official Fly To The Rainbow graphics, the interior tray and numbered sticker feature an early promo picture. This is how it is done, complete homage to this wonderful evening. I love 70’s era Scorpions, this recording is a total joy to listen to, it demands to be played loud and often, many thanks to Herb and Luciferburns for sharing this recording with the world. Zodiac please release the March 19, 1973 recording, it needs to be released proper. 

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