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Ghost Canyon

Title - 'Blackout' (Hybrid SACD)
Artist - Scorpions

To make a good pop-metal album, one needs to master the art of the hook. Fortunately, this is something that Scorpions have always seemed to have down pat ever since their inception in 1965. Another important attribute is to be competent enough musicians, not a problem with this German quintet, who center their songs around air-guitar-inspiring licks and solos. And once you add fairly conventional and very accessible songwriting to the mix, the end result is a sound that is simultaneously heavy and commercial.

1982’s Blackout, here newly released as a Limited, Numbered Edition Hybrid SACD (see last paragraph for more info on this), the Scorpions’ eigthth full-length release is also quite possibly their finest. And influential? You can say that again! It was through original albums like this one that the whole pop/hair/glam metal genre as you know it today (and groups like Fozzy, Helloween, and Megadeth) would come into existence.

The set kicks off with the title song, a lively, up-tempo and hard-rocking good time, before it delves deeper into pop-metal territory with 'Can’t Live Without You,' which features falsetto vocal hooks, really memorable choruses, and a screaming guitar solo that comes ripping through. The album’s obvious (and wisely-chosen) lead single, however, comes in the form of 'No One Like You,' which is heavy with infectious choruses and pyrotechnic guitar shredding.

Then, following a loose, jangly, and jazzy power ballad ('You Give Me All I Need'), Scorpions drop in 'Now!,' which just might be the heaviest moment on the whole record. This comes from the tune’s abundant use of its steady, meaty, and energetically up-tempo guitar chugging. 'Dynamite' is an even bigger standout, though, as it is a fun-loving rawker in the same vein as some vintage AC-DC stuff, and is home to a contagious, swinging groove, and one the absolute finest guitar solo sections that the band has ever written.

The next two tracks ('Arizona' and 'Child White') are both rich with some more excellent and exceptionally memorable melodic (and, in the case of the former track, screaming) guitar soloing. But things all then proceed to wind to a calm close by the time 'When The Smoke Is Going Down' rolls around. It is, after all, a darkly moody and even borderline ambient closing ballad with lightly-plucked strings, accomplished clean singing, and everything.

The bottom line, here, is that Blackout is nothing if not a promising and enjoyable affair. So even though none of the tracks can really be deemed mind-blowing, this is a good enough effort, especially when considering its historical importance and significant influence, to be labeled one of the most quintessential hair/glam metal releases of the Eighties.

Super Audio CD (SACD) is a read-only optical disc for audio storage, introduced in 1999. It was developed jointly by Sony and Philips Electronics, and intended to be the successor to their Compact disc format. Indeed, this SACD format can offer more channels (ie: surround sound), and a longer playing time than regular CDs.