We should not have worried though... as shown in the past (with a few notable exceptions) Schenker has knack of choosing band members with the necessary talent and temperament. Add to this the luxury of his own, state of the art, recording studio and you get the impression of a kid with a new toy!
Having said that, this album is not one of those 'instant classics'... the first couple of times through there's almost a feeling of deja-vu... as if this is just 'The Unforgiven II'... but it grows on you... and grows on you fast.
Certainly one of the things that strikes you is that Schenker can still cut it: forget his rather lack-lustre live performances recently, he has rarely let himself down on studio albums - and this album is no exception. Listen, for example, to the soloing on 'Because I Can', or the catchy 'Blinded By Technology'... when he's on form very few can come close. Now if he could only get some kind of stability in the MSG line-up then there is still real potential for something special.
On vocals, Chris Logans enthusiasm shines through on every track, helped perhaps by a longer writing/recording period than the week or so that Kelly Keeling had on 'The Unforgiven'. It will be interesting to see how he performs the old MSG numbers live, but for this album his vocals complement the guitar work nicely.
Playing with MSG live is, apparently, not an option for Jeff Martin anymore of course, but on this album both he and Reverend Jones perform flawlessly. However, you get the impression that they have not been given the artistic freedom which some previous band members have enjoyed, and their contribution seems a little understated.
There are also still some of those annoying disjointed verse/chorus affairs that have become a staple part of MSG albums over the past number of years, where the chorus riffs don't always seem to be part of the same song... but with repeated listening you get used to them... maybe it's me, and I just don't get it! Certainly after the first couple of times through they are hardly noticeable and the change does then seem to work.
So overall, 'Be Aware Of Scorpions' IS a really good album, but it may take a little bit of patience for some die-hard fans to appreciate this fact. How it will fit in with the substantial MSG back catalogue only time will tell... it is certainly not comparable to the early 80's efforts... but then we shouldn't always be trying to make that comparison. As a certain guitar virtuoso called Michael Schenker once told me... "that was then, this is now".
Dave Wood 21st October 2001
Many thanks Codger and to Peter Knorn for the advance copy.