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Uli Jon Roth
Scorpions Revisited

Company: UDR
Release: 2015
Genre: Traditional
Reviewer: Vinaya
  • A real treat for guitar lovers



  • As a longtime fan of Germany's Scorpions- and specifically the band's pioneering 1970's output with Uli Roth on lead guitar- I have been pleased to see the guitarist finally getting some recognition in the press Stateside, and even more pleased that Roth himself increasingly seems to be embracing his legacy with that band. Roth's seemingly increased comfort with his Scorpions past- from which he seemed to have distanced himself for a time, as he moved further from the world of rock and the machinations of the mainstream music industry in general- has culminated in this two-CD studio album, consisting entirely of new interpretations of his classic Scorpions-era work (plus a lovely, previously unreleased instrumental called "Rainbow Dream Prelude," which prefaces the closing run-through of "Fly To The Rainbow").

    For this set, Roth has assembled a group of mostly little-known but skilled and caring musicians to flesh out his new interpretations of the songs, the most familiar name probably being bassist Ule Ritgen, who played in Roth's first post-Scorpions band, Electric Sun. The most noticeable contributor (other than Roth himself), however, is vocalist Nathan James, who delivers a strong, reverent and versatile performance- mostly delivering the songs in a stylistically appropriate manner without aping the distinctive voice of Scorpions frontman Klaus Meine. His voice has a completely different tonality to it, with more midrange grit (Jeff Scott Soto immediately comes to mind). The only drawback to James' performance, in my opinion, is that he tends to overdo it a bit on the upper register wailing. (See his otherwise excellent performances on legendary Middle Eastern-flavored "The Sails of Charon" and at the end of "In Trance.") Otherwise, this is one solid set of performances from all involved, and Roth seizes the opportunity to unleash stirring flurries of notes that are often at least as stunning as on the original versions, with several of the songs extended to include more improvisation. "Dark Lady" and the aforementioned "...Sails..." in particular get some some interesting instrumental sections added on.

    Of course, not all of the original elements of the songs' arrangements are replicated here, but what appears in their place is often an interesting variation on the original, if not necessarily an improvement. For the most part, things found on here that could be considered improvements come in the form of sonic clarity (marred only but somewhat overly hot mastering- those damn Loudness Wars again!) and Roth's lead work, which has evolved quite a bit since the '70's and makes use of his trademark Sky Guitar's extended pitch range. One really cool thing about this album is that, although it is a studio recording, Roth and his bandmates often seem to interact as if they are playing live in front of an audience- which means no fadeouts, and the use of two co-guitarists (Niklas Turmann and David Klosinski) to help replicate parts that originally relied on overdubbing (such as the stunning, fully harmonized "In Trance" solo).

    For newcomers, this will make a decent introduction to both the songs of Roth's Scorpions tenure and his playing as it stands today. And of course, longtime fans will relish the fresh takes on many of the band's classic works, particularly for the new playing ideas that Roth brings to the table. Minor aforementioned shortcomings aside, it's a real treat for guitar lovers.


    About this Writer:
    Vinaya Saksena // Vinaya is either a writer who dabbles in guitar playing, or a guitar player who dabbles in writing. A Maximum Metal staffer since 2004, he has also served as a reporter for several newspapers in Rhode Island and Massachusetts. Although his obsession with music is such that it does not allow time for much else by way of hobbies, he also enjoys traveling, trivia, photography, British comedy and the occasional A-Team re-run.

    Maximum Metal Rating Legend - Click for Full Details
    5 Excellent - Buy it and say a prayer to the metal gods that you were tuned on to this masterpiece. A classic.
    4-4.5 Great - Almost perfect records but there's probably a clunker or a lacking somewhere to keep it from perfection. You won't feel bad about dropping some bones on these.
    3.5 Good - Most of the record is good, but there may be some filler. This is the OK range where you'd search for the record on sale or used.
    3 Average - Some good songs, some bad ones at about a half/half ratio. Could show skills but be dull overall. Redeeming qualities for indy bands are effort and passion. Majors that don't try or suck outright end up here.
    2-2.5 Fair - Worth a listen, but best obtained by collectors. There is much better metal out there.
    1-1.5 Bad - Major problems with music, lyrics, production, etc.
    0 Terrible or an otherwise waste of your life and time.

    Note: Reviews are graded from 0-5, anything higher or not showing is from our old style. Scores, however, do not reveal the important features. The written review that accompanies the ratings is the best source of information regarding the music on our site. Reviewing is opinionated, not a qualitative science, so scores are personal to the reviewer and could reflect anything from being technically brilliant to gloriously cheesy fun.

    Demos and independent releases get some slack since the bands are often spent broke supporting themselves and trying to improve. Major releases usually have big financial backing, so they may be judged by a heavier hand. All scores can be eventually adjusted up or down by comparison of subsequent releases by the same band. We attempt to keep biases out of reviews and be advocates of the consumer without the undo influence of any band, label, management, promoter, etc.

    The best way to determine how much you may like certain music is to listen to it yourself.



    ALL FULL REVIEWS FOR: ULI JON ROTH
    CD
    TITLE BAND
    DOR
    REVIEWER DATE
    Scorpions RevisitedUli Jon Roth
    2015
    Vinaya Saksena5/1/2015
    Under a Dark SkyUli Jon Roth
    2008
    Vinaya Saksena7/17/2009


    ALL SUMMARY REVIEWS FOR: ULI JON ROTH

    No Summary reviews currently exist for them.


    ALL INTERVIEWS FOR: ULI JON ROTH
    INTERVIEW BAND INTERVIEWER DATE
    Uli Jon RothUli Jon RothVinaya Saksena5/20/2015


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