I am going to take a wild guess and say that most of the people reading this have not listened to the Scorpions’ 1976 album “Virgin Killer.” Heck, most of you probably haven’t even come in contact with this album at all unless you’ve come across it in a used record store of some type. That would be my story behind buying the album and it’s not even the American version (it was a German import). But is this rarity worth the trouble of searching for it high and low?
For starters, what makes a Scorpions album without some risqué cover artwork, because nearly every single one of their albums is guilty of this crime. But out of their entire catalogue of albums featuring suggestive album covers (“Lovedrive”, “In Trance”, etc.), the original “Virgin Killer” artwork has to take the cake for the most controversial, as it displays a young girl (really young!) completely nude. It was so controversial in fact that it is quoted as “potentially illegal” under current UK law. The album artwork above was the alternative cover used for countries under which the original was banned.
Major controversy aside, what is the album itself like? I will say right now that there is very little resemblance to what the Scorpions would later become with albums like “Blackout” and “Love At First Sting.” Listening to it personally, I found several stylistic traces of bands like Thin Lizzy, Van Halen, Rainbow and other such bands. It’s just kind of that typical grimy sounding distortion in the guitars and the easygoing feel that gives me that impression. Unfortunately, “Virgin Killer” is nowhere near as memorable as the band’s later efforts.
With only nine tracks, there is not a huge variety to work with, but I’ll attempt to display both the good and the bad. The album begins with the uplifting “Pictured Life,” which may be the track closest to sounding like the average Scorpions song. Something about the dueling guitars and the vocals by Klaus Meine just resonates so well and makes it one of the best tracks on the album. The next track “Catch Your Train” and the album’s title track “Virgin Killer” have quite a bit in common according to myself. They both have this very dirty but very fun-loving atmosphere made apparent by the added touch of guitars tuned down half a step. They both groove rather well and the tempos are just right.
Those aforementioned three tracks are easily the best tracks according to my tastes. Everything else ranges from all right to very average. There are two slower and mellower tracks on the album: “In Your Park” and “Yellow Raven”. “In Your Park” moves at a slow, almost dance-like tempo, has particularly quiet verses occupied mostly by vocals and mildly intense choruses. Ultimately, the track goes by pretty quick and is not terribly memorable. “Yellow Raven” has a peaceful vibe and is even delicate enough to include sound clips of seagulls in the background. Decent vocal dynamics and guitar work on this track, but just like “In Your Park,” it goes by rather uneventfully and will most likely not be memorable for the listener.
The second to last song “Polar Nights” plays out very much like the Thin Lizzy track “Bad Reputation.” By that, I mean that dueling guitar riffage and quick, complex drumwork drives it until the very end. The track is a decent listen, providing just enough fun to get you through. “Hell Cat” is a track that utilizes some guitar effects that sounds odd at first, but becomes effective as the song continues. The vocals on this track did get on my nerves however. This is understandable, as Ulrich Roth (the lead guitarist) sings lead instead of Klaus Meine on this particular song (along with “Polar Nights”).
“Backstage Queen” has an exceptionally classic-rock kind of feel. It is set at a medium tempo and the guitar riff sounds kind of like a better version of KISS. Even the lyrics/singing style relates to a typical classic rock track. Overall, the song is decent but still nothing incredible. “Crying Days,” however, is set at a slow tempo and at certain times the guitar riffs, along with vocal backtracking in the chorus, create a haunting ambience. The track gets interesting toward the end, but ultimately ends before anything to exciting happens.
“Virgin Killer,” while not bad, is still nothing worth struggling to locate. Maybe if you come into a large used record store that has the album used at a low price you can pick it up and see for yourself. For me personally, while the album had a few decent tracks, it was not entirely worth the amount of time I searched for this gem.
Note: This album review was supposed to be released between February 12th and February 14th. Sorry. I don’t know why I was so lazy in posting stuff.