Of all the musical groups out there, no matter what the genre, Scooter always seems to surprise me. This majestic team, featuring the musical genius of Rick J. Jordan and the unmistakeable vocal shouts of H.P. Baxxter, have spun my head around so many times with their pure energetic sound, their thumping beats, and their ability to spawn creativity year after year, album after album. Sure, they borrow the occasional bit from other artists, but they seem to make it interesting. Subsequently after I find this out, I have the urge to hear the original to which these bits come from (isn't that nice publicity?).
Before I continue with the review, I'd like to note that there are many MANY anti-Scooterites out there who try and take the music beyond face value. Don't do that; it's just meant to be fun frolicsome music, and nothing more! Call it crap if you wish, but it's not meant to be epic music...
Anyway, this is their most recent (as of the writing of this review) full-length album, and it had high expectations. They usually put out an album every year, but they didn't put one out in 2002 (just a couple of compilations), probably due to the fact that their DJ, Axel Coon, left and was replaced by "the new guy", Jay Frog. With their new member, they put out the phenomenal single "Nessaja" in April 2002, hitting #1 all over the place (and in the Top 10 all over Europe). Soon, everybody was getting back into the Scooter groove and yearning for another album, but it took a year to get it out (but they also got it RIGHT). This is one of their more powerful albums, and one of their best, in my opinion.
The record starts off with a short intro that all dance albums seem to have these days. This one, entitled Ignition, is from a movie, I think. It starts with some computer blipping and so forth. About twenty seconds in, the announcer says, "Ignition sequence start..." and a quick orchestration which leads into the next track, Maria (I Like It Loud). This became their third single, and with good reason: this song is wild! It's probably the one most likely to be hummed in the hallways by German high schoolers (or so I've heard). Oddly enough, "I Like It Loud" seems to have been done by a few other artists (Marc Acardipane, Club Robbers), and in fact, Scooter teamed up with Marc Acardipane and Dick Rules for the single version. Dick Rules has a grating voice. Thankfully, he's out of the album version, and so you may prefer the original. It's funny how H.P. starts off his vocal trip with "Alright, everybody... tie your shoes!" We apparently left our shoelaces untied, so we'd better tie them before dancing. Thanks for the safety tip.
Weekend! was the first single from the album, and it's the one that got everybody hyped for the album's release! It has the pitched vocals that have made Scooter really popular (and sometimes abhorred). It takes its high-pitched chorus from the 1979 Earth & Fire song "Weekend" (yes, it's a different group than Earth, Wind & Fire), and adds a nice beat to it. Definitely worth the listen (and possibly worth the price alone).
After the fine croonings in "Weekend!", we are treated to what sounds like a revamp of "The Ants Go Marching". Take A Break is an interesting track that has a flute gradually convert into a synth (quite effectively)! It is gratifying to hear such a thing. Personally, I think the beat is a little slow for H.P., as he is used to dubbing his voice onto faster tracks; he sounds like he's straining a bit with this one. Nonetheless, a gripping song that will bring back fond memories of ants marching two by two ... or of burning them with a magnifying glass.
If anyone was a big Vangelis fan in the 1970s, then chances are, you'll recognize the fifth tune, Pulstar. In fact, the name is the same as the first track off one of his more popular albums, "Albedo 0.39" from 1976. It's basically the same, except that it's been ravaged by a more disco-based sound, and there are two interludes of a high-pitched voice singing "You make me feel...so real...I can never get enough..." within the song. I like the vocals best, honestly.
The second single from the album, The Night, is also certainly the best of the three released singles (at least in my opinion)! The chorus has been borrowed (notice a pattern) from "The Night" by Valerie Doré circa 1984. However, this version has certainly sped it up, since the original is way too slow (although it was a hit anyway). Once again, the vocals are pitched, and it's great! Mix that with some sweet background synth-funk, as well as interspersement of H.P.'s original voice shouting out stuff like "Soon, I'll have you movin' in time! It ain't my fault, just the lyrics that rhyme!" Pure salivation delight indeed, but the version found on the single is the superior of the two versions and more fine-tuned (with a computerized voice saying "Here comes the night..." and some piano-synth as well).
In Roll Baby Roll, the track takes its bagpipish chorus from ABBA's song "Arrival", but it's a generally good song even if you detest the works of ABBA; this is a track you probably won't skip over. However, due to copyright infringements of some diabolical nature, this song was renamed "Swinging in the Jungle" in more recent pressings, and the melody was even changed. Both versions are good though, so don't feel as though you're getting a raw deal either way. Following that is Level One, a remix of an old song by Chris Hülsbeck from the game "Turrican". I'm making the assumption that it's from the first level of the game. Duh. It's actually a very nice techno-trance tune. This song makes me want to play Turrican and see what it's all about.
Like Hypa Said is my personal favourite track, simply because it boasts a healthy mix of soft, soothing sounds and some wickedly loud thumping dance music in one carefully tied package! First is H.P. giving his shouts, telling us "Don't need a knife, don't need a gun! Like Hypa said, we just want some fun!" And he's right. I'd rather have fun than shoot or stab some guy. Next is an angelic chorus from what seems to be a small female choir (or it could be one woman's voice, layered several times over). Just when you think that's all you get, the hard pounding and the wild synthesizer clash in an immensely powerful fashion! This whole process repeats for a second time (although this time around, everything is in shorter doses). Damn, I love this! You really ought to hear it, if you haven't already!
The thrills of "Like Hypa Said" lead into a majestic two-track samplefest, consisting first of Liquid is Liquid, a bass-driven piece that samples from the long-defunct group Liquid. The second of the two samplers, A little Bit Too Fast, takes from "I'm Rushing" by Bump. I've also heard the same samples in "I'm Rushin'" by Pulsedriver! Of the two sample-heavy songs, this one I prefer, only because there's a bit of an additional mechanical sound closer to the end. If you have wise and experienced ears, you can hear it.
Scooter has a reputation of having a killer instrumental track at the end of their albums, and Soultrain keeps the vibe alive as per usual! Jay Frog's instrumental skill certainly shines in this song! This is absolutely wild as we bump 'n jump up the scale. It's not exactly soul music, but it will make you want to form a soultrain! Synth, piano, and a dangerously hard beat around the 1:40 mark form an impecable piece!
This is the kind of album that dance music enthusiasts such as myself get all warm and tingly over. And thank God there's no repeat of "Summer Wine" from the 2000 album "Sheffield". What were they thinking... H.P. should NOT sing Western tunes. Nonetheless, it is an very decent effort by the Scooter trio. The album not only met all of my standards for a Scooter album, but by far surpassed them. This is probably my favourite Scooter album to date! The effects of Jay Frog is very much apparent. I hope that they continue to make fun albums such as this, even if it means taking from everybody else and improving it! (And they did in their 2004 album, "Mind The Gap"!)