Forever and A Day
directed by Katja von Garnier
starring The Scorpions
Not many bands have held together for 50 years, but these guys have. They started rocking in 1965 in Hanover, Germany and cranked out 18 albums while riding 21 tours yielding 5000 concerts. There MIGHT be a harder working band, but I’ve yet to hear about one. This documentary looks at their history and follows them on what they claim is their farewell tour, and focuses on the band’s earliest days in Germany and their latest world tours through Russia. All the drama of break ups and reunions and that unpleasant cruft is swept away. After all, this documentary surveys triumphs, not regrets. Rudolf Schenker is the heart of this band, he founded it and has been lead singer for most of those years. You may know his brother Michael, he played in the Scorpion’s early days but split off to lead a competing band UFO. Lead guitarist Mathias Jabs has been around almost as long, this has been an amazingly stable group.
The tour shots are all cool as is the on-stage performance footage, but what really intrigued me is the culture journey the band takes. When they began, there was no demand for hard rock in Germany; the musical audience was more interested in sappy pop love songs and traditional folk music. Schenker and the band made a crucial decision – they would sing in English, and play outside of their native land. This made them European pop gods and got them air play in the United States which contributed to their early success. They also were very adventurous, they played the Far East before any other hard rock band, and it looks like they had a good time doing it. This is all a prelude to their boldest move – playing the Soviet Union just before the Berlin Wall collapsed. The Soviet Union was wound tight, and the show was a financial disasters (a 500,000 euro disaster; possible a record at the time) but an artistic success. They went far from Moscow: one segment shows Schenker swimming in Lake Baikal and nearly freezing his guitar picks off. Amazingly, they picked up a big fan in Michael Gorbachov; he appears here in a later interview extolling the band. If you can bring an old school politburo man to your side with crashing guitars and driving drums, you’ve certainly got something on the ball. The entire Scorpions band and staff all appear here at one time or another, this seems like more than rock and roll family: it that oh-so-rare HAPPY rock and roll family.