Born in 1954, one-time Scorpions axe-slinger Uli Jon Roth is not only highly regarded as one of music’s most virtuoso players, but he has also amassed one hell of a catalog to back up his reputation over the last 40 years.
Roth got his start in music with the band Dawn Road in 1970, eventually merging with the Scorpions in 1973 when then guitarist Michael Schenker left after the Lonesome Crow album to join UFO.
On top of the four albums Roth recorded with the Scorpions, he also recorded three albums with the band Electric Sun and 10 as a solo artist, as well as composing four symphonies and two concertos.
To meet the ever-growing demands Roth put on his instrument, the guitar wizard introduced his own custom made Sky Guitar in the 80’s. It was a six octave instrument with over 30 frets, to mimic the high notes of a violin.
Roth even joined the Scorpions on stage at Wacken in 2006 for the Night To Remember Show, playing four Roth-era Scorpions classics that hadn’t been played since he left the band in 1978.
At the age of 60 Roth is far from done, releasing his newest album Scorpions Revisited on UDR Music in March. The album is a Reimagining of 19 Scorpions classics, spread over two glorious cds that were recorded where the rehearsals for the four Roth era Scorpions albums took place back in the 70’s.
Roth really hasn’t messed around with the arrangements much, but the subtle changes and little liberties he did take, coupled with the benefit of digital recording equipment, breathes new life into these already brilliant masterpieces.
The bulk of the material is taken from the Virgin Killer and In Trance albums, but the two tracks chosen to represent the Taken by Force album “The Sails of Charon” and “We’ll Burn the Sky” are nearly nine-minute long epics that showcase some of Roth’s most impressive fretwork to date.
Elsewhere, Roth has managed to turn “Polar Nights” into a seven and a half minute funk tinged behemoth with hints of Ian Gillian era Deep Purple, while at the same time songs like “Virgin Killer,” “Catch Your Train” and” “All Night Long” are no holds barred, balls to the wall rockers.
Whereas the versions of “Pictured Life” and “Hellcat” aren’t far removed from the stunning originals, “Evening Wind” and “Life’s Like a River” sound more like Kansas with David Gilmour from Pink Floyd filling in on lead guitar.
The intro guitar and slower moments of “In Trance” are acoustic perfection, beautifully counterbalanced by the hard rocking choruses that really let vocalist Nathan James shine.
By stark contrast, closer “Fly To The Rainbow” together with it’s introduction counterpart the “Rainbow’s Dream (Prelude)” from the Fly To The Rainbow album are a whopping 15 minutes combined and close the album in the grandiose fashion it so richly deserves.
Here’s the bottom line. If you consider yourself a true guitar aficionado, then Scorpions Revisited is without a doubt the album for you.