VERSUS: Love at First Sting vs. Whitesnake

VERSUS: Love at First Sting vs. Whitesnake

Welcome to Versus. The series where we look at two albums in metal history, compare them to each other, and see which one was the better record.

Today, we are diving into the excess, big haired era of the 1980's with two of the biggest bands to come out of the time. A German metal band that would create some of the most memorable rock songs of the 80's. The other, a British band that would transition from the blues rock sound of their early works, into a glam metal band, creating catchy power ballads. With the help of one legendary 80's music video, they would help create the birth of the video vixen. So, spray your hair in Aqua Net, try to fit into those ripped jeans, and walk around with a vest and no shirt, as we tackle this classic battle of 80's legends in this matchup that I'm calling "The Sting Versus The Bite"

In this corner, we have Scorpions with the band's ninth studio album, 1984's Love at First Sting. With the band having three huge singles with this release, including the legendary track "Rock You Like A Hurricane", this would be one of the band's best records. Though facing a censored cover due to WalMart being unhappy with the original front cover, the album would still be a success and went double platinum by the end of 1984. It also has the distinction of being the first digitally recorded heavy metal record ever released. How do these German juggernauts stack up again their opponents?

The album opens with the wailing opening guitars of "Bad Boys Running Wild". With its iconic 80's main riff and wailing highs, the song starts with a thumping bass and pounding drums. Vocalist Klaus Meine's vocals ring out, loud and strong in the mix. Aggressive in the guitar tone, the track has such a machismo-esque energy to the pulse of the song. The guitar solo by Matthias Jabs is short, but strong, and shows off his skill and gets-in/gets-out without over soloing and "shredding just to shred". Along with the vocal harmonies and a driving kick drum, amongst a rising guitar solo, ends the song on a strong note and a great opening track for the album.

The legendary opening riff and drum strikes opens the classic "Rock You Like A Hurricane". With a driving rhythm section and wailing guitars into that simple riff and cannon firing drum strikes. The vocals start off soft and low before building as the pace of the song and the band pick up. With a catchy chorus and Meine's vocals, the song has that arena-rock feeling sound down to a T. As you listen to the song, you can imagine the crowd clapping along with the snare hits, along with the cries of "HERE I AM". Meine's vocal cries before the guitar solo still gives me goosebumps every time, no matter how many times I hear it. The bridge of the song, with thundering drums, builds such anticipation for the rest of the song. An 80's classic and one of my favorite songs from not only Scorpions, but the 80's themselves. "I'm Leaving You" opens with a nice, classic rock, slightly bluesy tinged riff with another driving drum section by Herman Rarebell. The acoustic guitars, over the verses, into the electric guitars is a nice transitional section. I love Francis Buchholz' bass peaking through on the verse, adding that groove to the rhythm of the track. Another strong guitar solo that immediately wants you to air-guitar along to it.

"Coming Home" has a somber and simplistic opening riff, soaked in reverb. Meine's vocal performance shows such emotional delivery and almost a sorrowful feel to it, even though the song has positive lyrics. Then, the band kicks the door in near the halfway mark of the song, and we have the energy and bravado of classic heavy metal. Meine's vocals manifest from the sadness and doom and gloom feel to his normal, high energy delivery and the riff has an instant headbobbing effect to it. The band is channeling acts like Judas Priest and Iron Maiden in the solo section at the bridge. Giving off that feeling of driving bass, fast, upbeat guitars and impressive soloing. With "The Same Thrill", the song has a opening drum roll, matched with a matching guitar section before the pace picks up. The song has that up-tempo, party anthem feel to the song. Which was a popular trend of songs and bands of the era. With ringing guitars and Meine's vocals matched with strong gang vocals on the chorus. The song is fast in it's tempo and pacing, almost in a speed metal sound going into the guitar solo. The ending of the song just shows the band going full pedal to the metal as it heads towards the finish line as the wheels are falling off and enjoying every second of it.

"Big City Nights" has a great opening riff, reminding me of Thin Lizzy in its play style. Drums are prominent on the track with the main riff hanging back to let the rhythm section lead the song. The chorus is classic Scorpions, catchy, sing-along chorus, short and sweet with a wailing guitar at the end of it. With the aura of a pre-party/tailgate anthem, the song just instantly gives you that "Let's Go" attitude to it as you're about to enjoy the night of partying. The guitar solo by Rudolf Schenker is a little more simplistic and not as complex as previous ones on the album, but fits the motive of the song and feel, which works. "As Soon as The Good Times Roll" starts with a demanding bass and cannon-like drum opening. Buchholz & Rarebell lead the charge of the track with little guitar sections peaking through into the chorus. The song has a slow groove to the song, which is different then a lot of the album, but it does create a nice break and shows a more midtempo feel for the band. The almost military like drum opening of "Crossfire" rings out with electric guitars behind it, almost with an anthemic delivery to it. I actually got an Iron Maiden vibe with the song, since it sounds like an intro from one of their earlier records. Although, for me, I am actually not a fan of this track, I feel the track is very one note. The drums get amplified at the halfway mark, drenched in reverb and chorus in the mix, but I feel like the song is just missing something. Maybe some strings/orchestral accents, or maybe some pounding toms or bass drums along with the snares behind it. The album closes with "Still Loving You". A beautiful opening guitar peace, with Meine's vocals, being a hybrid of breathy, whispering vocals to emotional, longing style vocals. The wailing guitars over the simple sounding main riff, segues into the drums entering the track. With the drums punching through and adding a punching snare sound in every hit. An emotional vocal performance by Meine, with the band bringing this song and album to an emphatic close.

In the opposite corner, we have Whitesnake, with their self titled seventh album, in 1987. The album would mark a transition in the band's sound. Steering away from the moody, blues rock sound of their previous albums. Towards a more radio friendly, hard rock sound of the times. With vocalist David Coverdale stating he wanted Whitesnake's sound on the record to be "leaner, meaner and more electrifying". With the new sound and the success of two of the singles on the album, along with their accompanying music videos, would make this the band's best selling album. Going eight times platinum and peaking at number two on the Billboard 200 for ten nonconsecutive weeks. What do these British heavyweights bring to the table in this battle?

Just a note, this album had different versions for North America and Europe with the tracks listed in different orders, I will be reviewing the North American version of the album with that track listing.

The album opens with "Crying in The Rain". Vocalist David Coverdale's wailing, bluesy like vocals, along with a building riff behind him, kick the song and album off strong. The groovy guitar of John Sykes bounce along well with Coverdale's vocals. The chorus and vocal harmonies sound so good on the chorus. The rhythm section of Aynsley Dunbar on drums and Neil Murray on bass keep the rhythm and pulse of the song booming throughout the track. Sykes' solo at the halfway mark is complex, intricate and impressively fast, reminding me of Zakk Wylde in the play style. I love the keyboard additions by Don Airey after the solo, adding depth and filling up the mix of the track. A strong opening track, with the band displaying their new 80's hard rock/heavy metal sound that they debuted with this album. "Bad Boys" has a great, high energy opening riff with driving drums by Dunbar. The song definitely has that 80's hair metal, machismo feel to the song's energy. Sykes again delivers a strong guitar solo with Dunbar, adding punch and rhythm to the solo. Showcasing how well both of them play well off of each other. I think Dunbar even has some double bass sounds at some points of the song as well.

"Still of The Night" has a great, ringing opening guitar, before Coverdale belts out his verses. I love the song's simplicity, with just drums and Coverdale showing so much punch and power. Sometimes less is more when you have the right mix. The song has a sultry sound to it, instantly picturing the song appearing at a strip club at the height of 80's excess. Coverdale really shines on the track with most of the verses showcasing just him and Dunbar with just a hi-hat or light drum accents. The synth chorus effect at the halfway mark, add tension and build, with Dunbar's drums slowly rising and a synthesizer string section adding dynamics to the track. Definitely one of the band's best songs, along with two others songs that appear on this album.

Next is the song the band is most known for with "Here I Go Again". With the appearance of legendary video vixen Tawny Kitaen, delivering a sultry performance and famously doing a cartwheel onto two Jaguar XJ's. Kitaen would go on to marry Coverdale two years later. With that classic opening piano and synth, the song instantly channels that power ballad, lighters in the air feeling during a live performance. With the vocals of Coverdale building into that classic chorus and drums by Dunbar, the song is just quintessential 80's hard rock/heavy metal. The elements of synths, that classic and memorable riff, and a strong vocal performance, the song is a trademark of the genre and potentially the band's best song. Coverdale's high vocal delivery and Dunbar's drum strikes before the solo just hit with so much bravado and oomph, it's just so good. On "Give Me All Your Love", the track has a heavy synth and guitar opening, almost like an intro to a TV sports package. The pulse of the bass and drums add a nice bounce to the track. With a wailing, almost dive bomb-esque guitar solo by Sykes, the song showcases his impressive talent with the guitar and impressive speed in his playing. I love the bridge of the song, with just a bass, synth pads and simple drums with Coverdale belting to the balcony, the song just showcases the band's energy and new sound perfectly.

The other memorable song from this album was the ballad "Is This Love". With opening string synths and driving drums, the song slows the pacing of the album down. Coverdale's vocals are more toned down and lower in pitch. The rhythm section adds a driving, but midtempo heartbeat to the track. I love the piano accents on the chorus of the song, as the band's performances gives a beautiful accent to Coverdale's melancholic vocals on the track. Sykes & Dunbar work well again during the solo of the song, before one last chorus before the song fades out. One of the best power ballads of the 1980's hands down. The aggressive, sounding opening riff of "Children of The Night" instantly made me think of Blizzard of Ozz-era Ozzy Osbourne. The song is almost a call to arms in its vocal delivery by Coverdale, almost picking the listener back up from the two power ballads. The song is very up-tempo, with Coverdale giving a motivational speaker-esque lyrical performance with his commanding voice, calling to the listener to be ready to rock. Sykes has another impressive guitar solo in the track, making me want to deep dive into his musical career with Thin Lizzy and Tygers of Pan Tang. His horse-like guitar wails and pinch harmonics and speed, makes me instantly think of Wylde, the late Dimebag Darrell and countless others in his performance on the album. "Straight For The Heart" has great opening drums and synths. The song is aggressive in an upbeat way. Commanding vocals, a simple but powerful guitar riff on the verse. A catchy chorus into another impressive and fast guitar solo by Sykes, with nice accenting synths behind him near the close of the solo. The album's closer "Don't Turn Away" starts with a mellow and emotional guitar passage with synth pads behind it. Coverdale delivers a nice mix of emotional and quiet vocals in the beginning to a rising, commanding vocal performance into the chorus. The song has elements of everything throughout the album on this track. It has the ballad-like build of "Here I Go Again", a catchy chorus of "Give Me All Your Love" and an emotional guitar solo of "Crying in The Rain", along with synths rounding out the track and closing out what some would say is the band's best record.

After hearing both of these nostalgic and classic 80's records, which album stands atop of this battlefield, the scorpion or the snake? In my opinion, the winner is Scorpions with Love at First Sting. Both of these records are really good, with each band channeling the best of what the 80's were known for. Scorpions had the anthemic feel, attitude and sound. Whitesnake had the emotional, power ballad and keyboard/synths down to a science. Whitesnake had the impressive guitar work of Sykes. Scorpions had the more recognizable, hard rock/heavy metal songs like "Rock You Like A Hurricane" and "Big City Nights". It all boiled down to the simple deciding factor. Once it's done playing, which one would I start back over again? For me, Scorpions had stronger songs musically. I do agree that Coverdale is the stronger vocalist between these two, but musically I lean more towards Scorpions. Whitesnake did have some strong songs like "Still of The Night" and "Children of The Night", but I think they just weren't as strong as Scorpions' on Love at First Sting. At the end of the day, both records are strong 80's classics and are staples in any record collection for this era in heavy metal and hard rock.

Scorpions would continue to tour and release music following the success of Love at First Sting, though would not capture the same commercial success of that record. The band released their nineteenth studio album Rock Believer in 2022, which featured new drummer Mikkey Dee of Motörhead fame. The band is currently on tour in the United States. They will then go on a European tour in the spring and summer of 2024.

Whitesnake would also continue to release new music and tour. Though the band would not reach the success of their self-titled album like their opponents today, they would tour consistently up to the modern day. The band originally embarked on a farewell tour in 2022, with other classic rock acts like Foreigner and Europe. The band was on tour with the Scorpions before the band had to withdraw from the tour due to Coverdale needing time to recuperate from an infected sinus and trachea. The band is currently planning to go on a summer tour in April.

Do you agree with my decision? Who do you think should have won? Cast your vote on the poll below, leave your comments on our social media, and your suggestions who you think should step in the ring next. I’m Justin, your friendly neighborhood metalhead, for This Day in Metal and this has been Versus.

VS: Love at First Sting vs. Whitesnake - Online Poll - StrawPoll
What’s your opinion? Vote now: Love at First Sting, Whitesnake…

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