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Uli Jon Roth - Scorpions Revisited Award winner

Uli Jon Roth
Scorpions Revisited
by Daniel Fox at 17 February 2015, 11:05 PM

Uli Jon Roth; one of Metal and Rock’s icons that guitarists live up to; understandably so, with a 40-year career under the virtuosic German’s belt. Coming to fame as the lead guitarist for SCORPIONS from 1973 until 1978, but has since boasted an ever-growing and ephemeral solo career. Famous for forming a style out of a fusion of Classical and Blues guitar, he is undoubtedly one of the world’s most important guitarists.

Come 2015, 7 years following the last release (and first in the series of his “Symphonic Legends” project), “Under a Dark Sky”, “Scorpions Revisited” is, essentially, exactly how it sounds; a double-album of 19 tracks, each and every one a re-imagining (as opposed to a strict re-recording) of Uli’s favourite tracks from his time in SCORPIONS.

I suppose “The Sails of Charon” had to be the track to open the album; containing arguably one of his most recognisable solos, and being nearly 9 minutes long, it is certainly one of the juggernauts of the release. The album was apparently recorded in the same hall in Hanover, Germany, in which the SCORPIONS traditionally rehearsed during his tenure with the band. Learning this after listening to this track, I could see why; the acoustics are strongly audible, and “The Sails of Charon” is one of the best tracks on the album to capture that sound. It’s not a live album, but it’s not a studio recording; it is sound-engineering genius. The guitars carrying a thick, dirty twang, and the track gives off strong Middle Eastern vibes; the man sings with his guitar, but I was indeed also blown away by the musicianship of the new line-up; singer Nathan James stepping up to the plate and delivering one hell of a belt. “Longing For Fire” was to follow suite and features a jarring change of pace; light-hearted, upbeat and airy, Nathan’s vocals reach a higher register with absolutely perfect vibrato, and contains infectiously catchy leads. It is not often old classics from a band like SCORPIONS can be taken and re-imagined and embellished to such outstanding results.

“Virgin Killer”, a number sure to pique the interest and ears of longtime SCORPIONS fans, the new vibe applied to this classic breathes new life into the track, originally teetering on the razor’s edge between Heavy Metal and Hard Rock; undeniably heavier music that still carried an almost-comical, swing vibe to the riffs, with the new guitar lines Uli is laying down projecting the track as one of the most important on the album. Just when I thought I was done being thrown a genre-bender, I come across tracks like “Polar Nights”, “Dark Lady” and “Catch Your Train”. A release like this is a genius move, when you think about it; to put 5-years-5-albums-worth of a band’s career together, to splice it and weave it together on the one album is to offer an especially rare and delightful kind of retrospection; you get to learn how (dauntingly) diverse the band’s music is, and gives at least a hint as to the depth of the mind of Uli. “Polar Nights” is certainly one of the “what?” moments on the album; veering towards the Progressive spectrum, the guitar work is most exquisite; I cannot recall off the top of my head where else I have heard such guitar dynamism jam-packed into 8 minutes. “Evening Wind” brings the album down to more balladic vibes, with a slow and lilting tempo, and guitar lines even more on the emotive side than usual; the wah-work is impeccable.

Of course, “Fly To The Rainbow” would make the spot of last on the tracklist. One of the longest pieces he has ever played, it certainly takes the place as the longest track on the album, and is truly a Progressive titan. It wades effortlessly through multiple movements; the first 3 minutes is an upbeat, incredibly melodic passage that is filled to the brim with beautifully-harmonising guitar licks. Although belied by the heavy and dirty interlude, the middle ‘chunk’ of the track (arguably a massive interlude in itself), is essentially 5 minutes of airy, atmospheric and wailing guitar mastery, screeching away at impossible registers. The remainder of the track feels like a massive, encroaching crescendo that builds up in heaviness and suspense.

“Scorpions Revisited” doesn’t necessarily convey the musical splendour contained within the album, because a re-visiting alone doesn’t describe what Uli and co. have pulled off this year.

4 Star Rating

Tracklist:
CD1:
1. The Sails Of Charon
2. Longing For Fire
3. Crying Days
4. Virgin Killer
5. In Trance
6. Sun In My Hand
7. Yellow Raven
8. Polar Nights
9. Dark Lady

CD2:
1. Catch Your Train
2. Evening Wind
3. All Night Long
4. We’ll Burn In The Sky
5. Pictured Life
6. Hell Cat
7. Life’s Like A River
8. Drifting Sun
9. Rainbow Dream Prelude
10. Fly To The Rainbow
Lineup:
Uli Jon Roth - Guitars
Nathan James - Vocals
Jamie Little - Drums
Ule W. Ritgen - Bass
Niklas Turmann - Guitars, Vocals
Corvin Bahn - Keyboards, Vocals
David Klosinski - Guitars
Record Label: UDR Music
     


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