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Roth; Uli Jon: Scorpions Revisited

Fifty years….!

It's a long time in anyone's book, however in terms of an industry where most acts last a matter of months, for any band to hit the half century is unbelievably impressive. Hence it's no surprise that as the Scorpions hit the fifty mark, so there's a host of releases to celebrate the fact. The band themselves have just released their Return To Forever album, while their ex-drummer Herman Rarebell has also just put out Herman's Scorpions Songs, factor in a new Michael Schenker album and Scorps fans will need fat wallets this year. However possibly the most interesting of the lot (with respect to the band themselves) is Scorpions Revisited, from Uli Jon Roth. Roth was the guitarist in the band between 1973 and '78 (sandwiched between two of Michael Schenker's short tenures) and as such added his unmistakable tone to four albums; Fly To The Rainbow, In Trance, Virgin Killer and Taken By Force. With the mega-success that would follow with Schenker rejoining (briefly) his brother Rudolf, before Matthias Jabs took over co-six-string duties, the Roth quartet of albums are often overlooked and as such, this two disc, nineteen song collection is most welcome.

What strikes you first and then again and again across Scorpions Revisited is just how fired up Roth sounds, his trademark sky-guitar positively burning as he pounds out riffs, licks and solos that belie their age. All four albums he performed on, plus the live Tokyo Tapes, are represented here and in truth, picking out the highlights is a true challenge, for the standard simply never drops. "Sun In My Hand" hits as a fresh, newly laid down song only should, while "The Sails Of Charon" dances as though its rocked up funky jaunt was only cooked up in the last five minutes or so. Singer Nathan James (Trans Siberian Orchestra) does a superb job, refusing to ape Scorpions frontman Klaus Meine, while still managing to stay true to how the songs were originally conceived. Obviously it's Roth who shines brightest here, but his singer sure ain't far behind, with the smooth tones employed on "Yellow Raven" an absolute joy to hear.

Throughout Roth stays true but not constrained by the originals, solos expanded and extended upon, without stepping too far from what is known and loved. Although he does allow himself the indulgence of "Rainbow Prelude", where he conjures up a new, improvised introduction to the set closing "Fly To The Rainbow". However the manner in which both "Pictured Life" and "Hell Cat" smack you round the chops is, considering this pair of songs' age, really quite remarkable.

In a year to celebrate and rejoice over one of the bands who've to a great extent shaped the European Rock scene that many of us have grown up with, don't let this excellent album from one of their early protagonists pass you by. He may not be their most famous ex-member, in fact he may not even be their most famous ex-guitarist. However for many it is the early albums Uli Jon Roth re-presents here that really still hold true as the Scorpions at their best. Whether you count yourself in that number or not, there's simply no way you won't be bowled over by the superb songs and performances on Scorpions Revisited.

See more about this release on our recent YouTube show!

Track Listing
CD 1
1. The Sails Of Charon (Taken By Force)
2. Longing For Fire (In Trance)
3. Crying Days (Virgin Killer)
4. Virgin Killer (Virgin Killer)
5. In Trance (In Trance)
6. Sun In My Hand (In Trance)
7. Yellow Raven (Virgin Killer)
8. Polar Nights (Virgin Killer)
9. Dark Lady (In Trance)

CD 2:
1. Catch The Train (Virgin Killer)
2. Evening Wind (In Trance)
3. All Night Long (Tokyo Tapes)
4. We'll Burn The Sky (Taken By Force)
5. Pictured Life (Virgin Killer)
6. Hell Cat (Virgin Killer)
7. Life's Like A River (In Trance)
8. Drifting Sun (Fly To The Rainbow)
9. Rainbow Prelude (Improvisation)
10. Fly To The Rainbow (Fly To The Rainbow)

Added: March 29th 2015
Reviewer: Steven Reid
Related Link: Uli Jpn Roth online
Hits: 1923
Language: english

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Roth; Uli Jon: Scorpions Revisited
Posted by Pete Pardo, SoT Staff Writer on 2015-03-29 07:05:26
My Score:

All these years after the fact, it's amazing how well these old Scorpions songs still hold up. For someone who has been listening to the band since around 1982, in most cases when I'm in the mood to rock out to some Scorpions, it's generally the Uli Jon Roth era that I reach for. Having the pleasure to see Roth a few times over the past few years play these Scorpions classics live on stage, I was more than excited to hear of this upcoming release, and I have to say the guitarist and his band have really done this material justice. Along with Nathan James (vocals), Niklas Turmann (guitars/vocals), Jamie Little (drums), Ule W. Ritgen (bass), Corvin Bahn (keyboards), and David Klosinski (guitar), Roth recorded 19 early Scorpions staples, live at the Aula, a small concert stage in Germany, with no audience over the span of a few days and minimal overdubs. The results are as you would imagine very impressive, and while not meant to usurp the originals, they stay true to the themes of all these great songs but also add some improvisational flair in spots that really make them all the more intriguing for the listener.

While all the mainstays are here, like "Sails of Charon", "Virgin Killer", "In Trance", "Catch Your Train", and "We'll Burn the Sky", (and all performed incredibly) it's the more Hendrix inspired pieces like "Sun in My Hand", "Hell-Cat", "Drifting Sun", "Yellow Raven", "Evening Wind", and of course "Polar Nights" that just blows this out of the park, as Roth's sensational lead work on his Sky Guitar just soars to the heavens. James for his part also wows throughout, instead of giving a Klaus Meine impression he attacks these songs with an almost Bruce Dickinson meets Glenn Hughes styled flair, and it really works, signaling the arrival a new force on the hard rock/metal vocal scene. Other highlights include a massive "Dark Lady", the funky metal classic "All Night Long", "Pictured Life", and of course, the set stealing finale of "Fly to the Rainbow", which for my money probably outshines the original version from the album of the same name, though falling a hair short of the superb live take on Tokyo Tapes.

More than just a fun trip down memory lane, Scorpions Revisited is an affirmation of just how great these songs still are nearly 40 years later, as well as the fact that Uli Jon Roth has been one of the most important guitarists on the hard rock & metal scene for equally as long. Highly recommended.

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