Due to the uncertainty surrounding the production of the album Blackout (vocalist Klaus Meine had undergone surgery on his vocal cords), expectations of the music’s quality were rather low at the time. But in March 1982, this enthusiastic Scorpions fan bought the album the day of release, out of good faith, and was pleased enough by it. It wasn’t an album like In Trance or Taken By Force, two albums that excelled with guitarist Uli Jon Roth‘s nearly mystical playing. Nor was it Lovedrive or Animal Magnetism, which had all the needed ingredients of consistent hard rock. But with Blackout, the band would prove they still knew how to rock hard, and with a few radio/MTV hits to make their music more marketable for the masses.

Blackout turned out to be the Scorpions breakthrough album in America led by the mainstream hit “No One Like You” (however, after the slap-happy “Arizona,” it is the weakest track on the record, IMHO).

The underrated gem here is the moody “China White” — melancholic and rich with hypnotic guitar chugs and pleading vocals. This could have easily been the standout track on Lovedrive or Animal Magnetism.

Meine’s vocals sounded terrific in every song — unstrained. The all-out chutzpah of the title track and the manic “Now,” the jagged guitar chop of “Can’t Live Without You,” the NWOBHM-era-sounding “Dynamite”  — this was heavy music for its time. Shortly after this era, many a metal artist/fan would only care about which tunes could be faster, heavier, and most outrageous. It quickly became unchallenging, predictable, tedious, and trite. It nearly killed the genre. This in itself makes me appreciate the well-balanced hard rock/metal of Blackout more so now than upon its original release.

Of course, all this richness of Blackout is brought out to its fullest extent with the release of this SACD by Audio Fidelity, making it a worthy purchase, for sure.