Various Artists Beyond Inspiration: A Tribute To Uli Jon Roth
Released: 2003, Lion Music
Reviewer: Lord of the Wasteland
Uli Jon Roth is a guitar legend. Roth replaced original Scorpions guitarist Michael Schenker in 1974 and played on their landmark albums IN TRANCE, VIRGIN KILLER, TAKEN BY FORCE and the classic double live album, TOKYO TALES. After that album’s release in 1978, he split from the band to begin a solo career. From the late 70s through to the present, his solo work has fallen under various names including Electric Sun to his own name. He has also moved back and forth between hard rock and metal to classical guitar compositions. BEYOND INSPIRATION: A TRIBUTE TO ULI JON ROTH is a tip of the hat to his skills as a guitar player and songwriter who has influenced many musicians. While Roth is not a “household” name among guitar gods like Malmsteen, Van Halen, or Satriani, his influence is nevertheless felt by scads of players who felt inspired to contribute to this recording. Lars Eric Mattsson is the driving force behind this album and he has collected the services of over musicians to help him realize the project. Personally I have only heard of three of the musicians on the album but they all do a superb job of reinventing the songs of Uli Jon Roth.
Of the 14 tracks on the CD, only 5 are Scorpions songs: “Sails of Charon”, “Dark Lady”, “Yellow Raven”, “Pictured Life” and “Polar Nights”. “Sails of Charon”, which has previously been recorded by Testament and Yngwie Malmsteen, is given an excellent reproduction here. The guitarwork on this song and “Dark Lady” is incredible! “Polar Nights” has a cool riff and the vocals sound a bit like Sebastian Bach. “Yellow Raven” has a great acoustic intro and vocals from Alf Wimmerlind. This track and “Pictured Life” have more of a hard rock sound reminiscent of bands like Triumph and April Wine.
Of the non-Scorpions tracks, “Electric Sun” has a funky bass line that reminded me of early Red Hot Chili Peppers or Fishbone. “I’ll Be Loving You Always” is a Led Zeppelin-like ballad featuring female vocals from Condition Red’s Ella Grussner and has an intro similar to Jimi Hendrix’s “Little Wing”. “Firewind” is a catchy track. The two instrumental tracks feature some impressive acoustic and classical guitar, but “Paganini Paraphrase” is especially interesting since it is an interpretation of a classical piece done on electric guitar.
Outside of his time with The Scorpions, I was not familiar with Uli Jon Roth’s work, however this tribute album seems to be an admirable reflection of his career. The artists who participated in BEYOND INSPIRATION have shown the man a great deal of respect with their renditions of some fine songs. While not exclusively metal, Roth’s work showcases a guitar legend who never quite got his due.
1. Electric Sun
2. Sails of Charon
3. I’ll Be Loving You Always
5. Dark Lady
6. Yellow Raven
7. Burning Wheels Turning
8. Still So Many Lives Away
9. I’ll Be There
10. Indian Dawn
11. Pictured LIfe
12. Return (Instrumental)
13. Polar Nights
14. Paganini Paraphrase (Instrumental)
Guitars—Chris Steberl, Joop Walters, Lars Eric Mattsson, Tony Hernando, Rolf Munkes, Petrossi Duchan, Torben Enevoldsen, James Byrd, Cyril Achard, Thorbjorn Englund, Neal Grusky, William Stravato, Alex Masi, Eric Sands, Paul Nelson
Bass—Matt Cistone, Weine Johansson, Lars Eric Mattsson, Tony Hernando, Rolf Munkes, Franck Hermany, Thorbjorn Englund
Vocals—Brad Shumway, Lance King, Ella Grussner, Torgny Stjarnfelt, Alf Wemmenlind, Michael James Flatters
Drums—Gerald Kloos, Ian Haughland, Francesco Ciaciarelli