Perfect Tokyo Tapes Vol. 1 (Tarantura TCDS-1, 1-2)
Nakano Sun-Plaza Tokyo , Japan Sunday April 23, 1978
Disc 1 (59:51) Monitor Check, All Night Long, Pictured Life, Backstage Queen, Polar Nights, We’ll Burn The Sky, Suspender Love, In Trance, In Search Of Peace Of Mind, Fly To The Rainbow, He’s A Woman, She’s A Man, Speedy’s Coming
Disc 2 (56:46) Band Introduction, Catch Your Train, Top Of The Bill, Drum Solo, Top Of The Bill (reprise),
Hound Dog, Long Tall Sally, Steamrock Fever, Dark Lady, Nojo No Tsuki (The Moon over the Ruined Castle), Robot Man, Hell Cat, Tokyo Jam / Kimigayo / Star Spangled Banner / Third Stone From The Sun, SE / Announcement
In the early 80’s I started listening to The Scorpions, first with Blackout and then the other recent releases by the group. I joined a mail order music service and got a bunch of free cassettes and a couple I picked were Best Of The Scorpions Vol 1 and 2. The music found on these cassettes was different from what I had been enjoying from the band, they had a different sound and feel to them and I was instantly hooked. The guitar playing was far above average and the songs had a harder edge, I was intrigued but did not know anything about the group except what I read in music magazines like Hit Parader and Circus.
This was the pre Internet age and it took years before I found out the band had a long back catalogue and as I did with UFO, became obsessed with getting these old gems and found some incredible music within starting with the Lonesome Crow release. I eventually found my way to the phenomenal live opus from the early years Tokyo Tapes, recorded on the bands inaugural visit to the land of the Rising Sun. This latest release from Tarantura documents the bands show from the Nakano Sun Plaza in Tokyo from that first tour.
The recording used is a wonderful audience source from the master, Mr Peach. The sound is very good, clear with all instruments clear but the bass frequencies are overpowering, not distorted but giving a muffled sound. The audience is respectful and there is virtually no interference by the recorder, the set list was consistent throughout the tour and of course features the classic line up of Klaus Meine on vocals, Uli Jon Roth on Guitar and vocals, Rudolph Scheneker on Guitar, Francis Buchholz on Bass and the great Herman “Ze German” Rarebell on drums.
The band hit the stage with a non LP (in America?) track All Night Long, the audience clap politely and settle down to enjoy the music, a great Pictured Life follows with guitar virtuoso Uli Jon Roth playing the leads perfectly and who also had is hand in the lyric about “Dark Meditation”. Another song from the incredible Virgin Killer record follows, Backstage Queen is a good time romp and a song that would lay the bands foundation for the latter worldwide successes. Uli introduces another from Virgin Killer and asked the audience to clap along as he whips out some Hendrix inspired sounds for them as Herman “Ze German” keeps time and the band play a great version of the Roth classic, as with a lot of the bands early catalogue Roth’s playing is a vocal point.
The band has a couple of what I call epics in the set list, the first is We’ll Burn The Sky from the Taken By Force record and also on the Best Of set where I first heard the song and dreamed of one day hearing the full song as the version from Tokyo Tapes on the record faded before the conclusion. The has incredible origins with music written by Rudolph Schenker and lyrics by Monika Dannemann who was Roth’s wife and also was also the girlfriend on Jimi Hendrix and who’s flat Hendrix was at when he passed in 1970. The songs a tale of love and death and is the focal point of delicateness and intensity, with the quiet soft opening with heartfelt vocals by Klaus to the incredible soloing form Uli this song is one the bands finest moments.
The band play a gentle In Trance that garners cheers from the audience and features the wonderful soaring vocals from Klaus who entices the audience to join with him.
The nights second epic is in almost two parts beginning with the beautiful ballad In Search Of The Piece Of Mind from the Lonesome Crow record, Roth playing his best Michael Schenker but instead of the heavy ending of the original the band goes right into a majestic Fly To The Rainbow, the audience is entranced and are following the music’s every turn. Interestingly enough is the songs music is credited to Michael Schenker while the lyrics are by Roth. The mellow Hendrix inspired interlude is the perfect blend of psychedelia and mystical themes with a haunting quality and the heavy ending is brilliant.
Rodolph starts the next song with a little jam that has the audience clapping along and turns into the tale of transvestite infatuation He’s A Woman, She’s A Man. The songs riffing style would influence the Metal community notable fellow German’s Accept. The audience love them and help the band by clapping and cheering. Klaus thanks the audience as tell them they make him feel at home, a wonderful compliment. He introduces the next some as a song about Rudolph’s nickname and is dedicated to all the girls in the audience and a great fast pace version of Speedy’s Coming is at hand, Roth is ripping into it like and animal into flesh with some aggressive leads. The song is always a highlight for me and was an influence on many musicians worldwide, Van Halen has stated it they used to play it during their club days.
The second disc starts with Klaus introduces the band followed by Catch Your Train from the Virgin Killer (the album is probably the bands finest during the 70’s, every song is, pardon the pun, KILLER) and a great Top Of The Bill with a great drum solo by Herman Rarebell, the audience seems to love drummers and they show him a lot of love. The good times flow as the band rip through their oldies section beginning with a nice and fast Hound Dog, again Roth solos so effortlessly and plays a great rock and roll solo. This is followed with Long Tall Sally also played at breakneck speed, the audience is loving it an clap through the songs.
The band take a breather before encore time, they will need it for what follows as the audience clap and scream for the band until the sound of a jack hammer can be heard. Steamrock Fever is the opening song on the Taken By Force record and has the same feel as He’s A Woman, fast and aggressive that pummels the listener but is a lot of fun, this version is no different. Roth slays the listener with a smoking version of Dark Lady, again a classic I love the harmony vocals by Klaus, almost like two people telling a story of bewitchment with the guitar riff that at times reminisces Spanish Castle Magic meets Ritchie Blackmore.
Klaus asked the audience for help singing the Rentarō Taki composed song written about the Oka Castle ruins and lyrics written with inspiration of Aoba Castle and Aizuwakamatsu Castle. The audience is very willing and together they perform a beautiful version of the song. A great version of Robot Man follows and the sound becomes slightly more muffled but includes a great almost funky jam section that sounds like Roth almost gets into a little Third Stone but not quite but it has a Hendrix feeling and some call and response going on between Klaus and Uli.
One last visit to the Virgin Killer record is Hell Cat, the song has a great funky Wah petal influenced riff and features Roth’s best Hendrix impersonation and has Klaus sharing the vocal duties that leads into a the great Tokyo jam that begins with Roth’s interpretation of Japans National Anthem Kimigayo that sounds almost like its shrouded in the mists that leads into the Star Spangled Banner ala Jimi Hendrix with a Sabbath like sounding jam that leads into Third Stone From The Sun as Roth seems hell bent on conjuring up Hendrix from the afterlife in a cryptic fashion and a literal feast for the ears coupled with distortion.
A phenomenal played concert, this CD has a place on my shelf next to my copy of the original Tokyo Tapes (the two cd version of course) that is signed by Roth and Buchholtz.
The packaging is typical Tarantura, glossy gatefold sleeve adorned with flowery Japanese art with pictures from the tour in the center along with the ticket stub and master cassettes. I was very excited when this title was announced in late December 2011 and getting a copy proved to be difficult but to coin a phrase “with a little help from my friends” was able to secure a copy and I am glad I did. This is an excellent release and from what I can gather was completely sold out, the cover does say Volume 1 so we can cross our fingers in hopes getting a volume 2 as this era of The Scorpions history is for this reviewer the definitive one! Two thumbs way up and highly recommended.