Uli John Roth – “Scorpions Revisited – Volume 1” 2CD (UDR Records)
Ulrich Roth is the legendary virtuoso guitarist of the Scorpions who stepped into Michael Schenker’s shoes when he left for UFO. Heavily influenced by Jimi Hendrix, Roth played on 4 albums “Fly to the Rainbow”, “In Trance”, “Virgin Killer” and “Taken By Force” – as well as their internationally acclaimed gold selling double live album “Tokyo Tapes”. Ironically after Roth would leave to pursue a solo career in Electric Sun through the 80s, which was very much in the spirit of Jimi with its astrally guitar driven hard rock. In the 90s Roth entered a new phase of creative work involved in classical music, composing concertos and performing with symphony orchestras under the name ‘Uli John Roth’. Unsurprisingly, he is today seen as one of the earliest influences of the neo classical metal genre, with a reputation further reinforced through the invention of his Sky guitars and his Sky Academy tuition seminars and concerts. Reminiscing of those early days which began 40 years ago, Roth’s desire to re-connect to the songs that he wrote grew stronger over a year until he formed a band to actually record in the same Hanover hall used by the Scorpions for rehearsals between 1973 and 1978 – bet that brought back a few memories! Totaling 20 tracks across this double CD package, the sound is nothing short of par excellence, with crystal clarity and of course, Roth’s own guitar work being nothing short of orgasmic. With songs like ‘In Trance’, ‘We’ll Burn The Sky’ and ‘Pictured Life’ taken from all of the above albums, Roth has brought this vintage material back to life in an intense, emotional experience by brilliantly keeping to the original spirit of the music, while giving it a dignified, modern take. This isn’t retro, nor some embarrassing cash in on early glories but the culmination of Roth’s own creative journey in the worlds of music, philosophy and art brought together to revisit songs long grown apart but still dear to his heart. The new band too show their measure in not trying to compete with the Scorpions but rather capture the essence and more crucially, the subtleties of the original work that allows that personal connection to be made, especially for older fans like me. Nathan James does a particularly good job vocally, not just in terms of his range but moreover, the softer tones of his emotion that once again don’t show him competing with Klaus but rather offering a honored take to the Scorpions vocalist while being himself, as do the rest of the band. “Scorpions Revisited – Volume 1” is nothing short of superb, and needless to say I can’t wait for volume 2!