German Metal Machine (Book Review)
Released: 2016, Indie
It took decades before someone wrote a book about the Teutonic titans and suddenly three appear on the market in relatively quick succession, much to the delight of myself and many Scorpions fans. Greg’s new book GERMAN METAL MACHINE: SCORPIONS IN THE 70’s is another self-published title and maintains his usual standards of presentation and design.
I was a bit skeptical that he would tackle Scorpions as a band and the 70’s as an era because his area of expertise and interest seems to lie more in the grunge/alternative realm of the 90’s with books about Primus, Mr. Bungle, Faith No More, Stone Temple Pilots, Bad Brains, Meat Puppets, Blind Melon and more. However, he does have a an appreciation for melodic Metal with books about Iron Maiden, Eric Carr and Tommy Bolin and now we can add Scorpions to the list.
There is a nice back-story about this book. In his introduction Greg talks about being a Metallica fan and when Kirk Hammett would talk about Uli Jon Roth, Prato would try to check out the old Scorpions stuff. Years later, around 2009 to be precise, he found a renewed appreciation for the 70’s era of the band via TOKYO TAPES. The opportunity was there to write about that era and in a nice piece of symmetry, none other than Kirk Hammett writes the foreword to the book so it all comes full circle.
I’ve reviewed a number of Greg Prato’s books and initially I wasn’t a huge fan of the oral history / interview style he frequently employs. However as time goes on, the more I like the format. I would have liked a bit more technical information; he could have quite easily added a discography, track-lists, some tour dates, the album covers and a few pictures would have been nice. As it stands it is a bit bare bones in terms of presentation, but very readable. Prato interviewed over 36 people in preparation for this book! In one of my other reviews of one of Prato books, I was mildly critical of him interviewing grunge people to ask what they thought of Metal. In this instance the people he interviewed are all full-on Metal people, guitar heroes, people who have toured with the band, ex-producers and several ex-members of the band as well for a well-rounded cross-section of relevant opinions and personalities. Everyone has something interesting to say. He follows a chronological pattern with a bit of history, but not overly so, and then goes roughly album by album and dedicating chapters to major shifts in band personnel, Roth out, Schenker in, etc… What becomes evident that despite everyone having certain favourite albums or songs, the influence of the band is profound. Even thrash guys in Exodus, Exodus and Slayer love Scorpions…not too mention the guitar heroes, there are a number of Guitar gods to pay homage to Uli and Schenker and each say much the same thing, Uli was very innovative for the time.
GERMAN METAL MACHINE is a great book about a great band, and although Scorpions are going strong today, in a slightly different style, the 70’s era has a permanent and deserved spot in the development of Heavy Metal as a whole. This overdue book brings that concept to the fore and should be in the library of every Scorpions fan.