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'Scorpions Revisited'
(UDR Records)
Release Date: March 10th 2015

tony conley
Tony Conley

uli jon roth

The big news here is that Uli Jon Roth is playing guitar and singing as well, if not better than ever.

The German maestro has been touring for several seasons now celebrating the 40th anniversary of his joining The Scorpions, a band he helped take to the very brink of international stardom before he exited the group to follow his own muse, and now he's documented the current state of his musicianship, his fine band, and the durability of some of the most adventurous hard rock music ever written and recorded.

Uli Jon Roth is a legend - he was there at the creation of a guitar movement that came to be known by the unfortunate name of shred, and in all actuality he may have been the first guitarist who married the feral excitement and soul of Jimi Hendrix with a sophisticated sense of harmony and the technique that had previously been left in the realm of serious jazz guitarists.

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No one had quite mastered the use of the Fender Stratocaster's tremolo bridge system - even Hendrix never approached the sheer mastery that Roth achieved with his customized extra sturdy arm that enabled him to wrestle dynamics and drama out of the instrument that allowed him to find the full expression of his almost endless bends, pull ups and dips.

Even that instrument itself ultimately found itself supplanted by Roth's self designed Sky Guitars which with their scalloped frets, seven strings, and fully functional 34 frets, allowed the guitar to keep up with the imagination of its player.

'Scorpions Revisited' is a something of an enigma. It demands that the listener suspend certain beliefs and remembrances in order to fully embrace both its mission and its achievement. Again, the pluses all relate to the singing and playing. Roth plays with all the stunning accuracy and death defying fearlessness as he did so many years ago, and his range of tones is unquestionably greater today than it was in the seventies, but it is admittedly not quite as wild and untamed as it was then.

However, it may also be that Roth's playing is even more controlled, and as a result emotionally more accurate than in the past. The downside is that this is 2015, and while the album sounds very, very good, it simply doesn't achieve quite the sonic splendor that was achieved with two inch tape, all analog circuitry, and the magic that producer Dieter Dierks captured on The Scorpions early efforts. This point will be debated by the hardcore loyalists, but I love this music as much as anyone on the planet, but I must see this all very soberly. All told, this is a grand and successful achievement.

One thing that makes this project so interesting is that Uli is joined by two guitarists, David Klosinki, the left handed prodigy now on tour with Roth on his American tour, and Niklas Turmann, who also supplies some ancillary vocals. This lineup allows for a very cool fleshing out of the music in terms of a greater tapestry of guitar sounds than exhibited on the original recordings.

I won't lie and say I don't miss Rudolf Schenker's right hand on the sledge hammer rhythm riffs, he's one of the best in history, and while the flavors provided by Roth's young apprentices are delightful, they are of a different breed than Rudy's sheer (and beautiful) savagery. As for Roth, his playing is pretty much without reproach - the man is probably the most underrated of all the greats of his era, and as a pure original he stands proudly beside Hendrix and Jeff Beck.

Vocals are handled by newcomer Nathan James, and he must be given great credit for capturing as much as the original flavor and style as he can, and he's no slouch on the high notes, either - his range is superb, his tone and intonation are quite good, but it must be said that there is simply no one who will quite match the brilliance that Klaus Meine brought to the songs back in that time so long ago. Meine was as underrated as Roth, and his unique and incredible voice simply have no match when it comes to these songs. That being said, James does great work on every track, and his future seems assured.

Rounding out the band we have Corvin Bahn on some very tasty keyboards and vocals, whose keyboard work brings some arrangements freshness to the classic tracks, drummer Jamie Little who brings a deft touch to the proceedings, and best of all we have longtime Roth sideman and bandmate Ule W. Ritgen, whose bass playing actually supersedes anything found on the original material - Ritgen's superb tones and confident playing adds great texture to the tracks (I even wish he was a tad bit higher in the mix, but that's just me nitpicking).

Finally we get to the material, and as one would expect, the leaning is towards the material that Uli either wrote himself, or was closer to in spirit, and the tracks that some may find missing are the classic Schenker tunes like 'Robot Man', 'Top Of The Bill', 'Speedy's Coming' and 'Steamrock Fever'. Still, the 19 song set list should disappoint no one who knows what they're getting themselves into here, and every tune is a surefire winner. It's only when taken as a whole does one begin to see just how many great songs The Scorpions recorded in Roth's relatively short five years with the band.

The lineup of songs will be familiar as an old comfortable pair of shoes for most who come to this party, and I can only imagine the joy of discovery that anyone would get if they were to arrive new to this material. In fact, fathers should buy this album for their sons, in hopes that this next generation may come to understand true greatness of rock 'n' roll, and the electric guitar.

My personal favorites include 'Catch Your Train', 'Sails Of Charon', 'Yellow Raven', 'Pictured Life', 'In Trance', and 'Life's Like A River'. My favorite moments are when Uli derivates from the original and throws in some new fire and inspiration, and when his original harmony lines are so incredibly recreated by himself and Klosinski. There's great magic at work when all these guitars get mixed together.

At the end of the day, if you're a fan of Uli Jon Roth, you're going to adore this record. If you're new to the world of Roth and his Scorpion legacy, you will be amazed by the gift of rock that will beseech you, and if you are a hard core Scorpions fan, you may have slight reservations, but you'll find that after a few listens that there are magnificent goods to be discovered and remembered here.

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Wacken Winter Nights 2018 takes place between February 23rd and 25th 2018 and the great news is that you can now experience a full-on, top class German Metal Festival easily and affordably.

It only takes an hour to fly to Hamburg from London and we've had longer journeys than that within the capital and they were certainly more expensive than the £33 air ticket that just appeared in our 'flights to Wacken Winter Nights' search.


Wacken Winter Nights is organised by the same team who are responsible for the world's greatest Metal festival, Wacken-Open-Air and the 2018 bill includes Skyclad, Orphaned Land, Elvenking, Finntroll, Grave Digger, Aeverium, Comes Vagantes, Coppelius, Corvus Corax, Die Pressgëng, Elvellon, Heimataerde, Hell-O-Matic, Ignis Fatuu, Ingrimm, Irdorath, Johnny Deathshadow, Krayenzeit, Letzte Instanz, Mr Hurley und die Pulveraffen, Pampatut, Pat Razket, Schandmaul, Sündenrausch, The Aberlour's, The Moon And The Nightspirit, Torfrock, Visions Of Atlantis, Vroudenspil, Wind Rose and more.

Besides this rich billing of superb Metal bands, there is so much more to see in the festival area including the medieval market and also the walking acts and jugglers you will meet at the theme worlds, including Robert Blake, three-time World Cup winner of street magic.

Wacken Winter Nights is something not to be missed and you can check out the amazing ticket and accommodation prices right here.

We just priced up the whole four day trip with hotels, flights, shuttles and festival tickets for less than £300 and we don't think you will get a better value festival than that, anywhere.


MetalTalk recently sat down with Wacken founder and owner Thomas Jensen and that interview will be online next week and it's a fascinating insight into how Wacken originated from nothing to become the world's premiere Heavy Metal event.


Wacken 2018 takes place from 2nd to 4th August 20218 and as with Wacken Winter Nights, if you have never experienced all it has to offer, then you owe it to yourself to remedy that.

Already announced for Wacken 2018 are Judas Priest, Nightwish, Running Wild (exclusive), Arch Enemy, Dirkschneider, Doro (Special Anniversary Show), In Extremo, Sepultura, Amorphis, Amaranthe, Firewind, W.A.R., Belphegor, Mantar, Knorkator, Deserted Fear, Watain, Night Demon, Epica, Knorkator, Belphegor, Firewind, Deserted Fear and many more and we'll have more Wacken 2018 announcements during December.

As well as being the greatest Heavy Metal festival in the world, it is without a doubt the Mecca of Metal and the one thing that every single person who loves our music should have on their bucket list.

For 2018, MetalTalk have joined forces with Wacken-Open-Air to help you get to Wacken easily and inexpensively and you can peruse the ticket and travel options right here.

If you are interested in going to Wacken 2018 and have questions, please fill out the form below and we will contact you with answers to all your enquiries. You are under no obligation whatsoever by filling this form out. We won't add you to any mailing lists or send you loads of spam - all we will do is help you get to Wacken as easily and inexpensively as possible.



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