Uli Jon Roth - Scorpions Revisited

Uli Jon Roth Scorpions Revisited cover
Uli Jon Roth
Scorpions Revisited
UDR Music
Uli Jon Roth, the legendary guitarist, who in the 70s was an integral part of the Scorpions, has always been more or less, first and foremost an artist and secondly a guitarist, (actually one of the greatest) so those who just recognize his “Scorpions” legacy but are unaware of the solo work he did and I would imagine, would be a great majority of people, who have a more or less passing or skin deep relation with rock music are missing out on some great music.
In the past Uli was gracious enough not to disown but also not to try and promote himself based on the popularity of his former band and whenever he’d chose to recreate some of his best “Scorpions” related work he did so with, brilliant bands/collaborators. Now comes, some 40 years after the fact, a double album, of nineteen re-imagined, songs from the “Scorpions” catalog, songs that the “maestro” helped compose, perform and some of which he’d occasionally even sing, back in the day. Apparently, it was due to popular (or company) demand that this “Scorpions Revisited” collection was born.
While the album, makes a decent effort to pick and choose representative songs from the 70s era of the Scorpions and generally manages to “cover” most of the 70s “hits” of the band, there are a two things that are working counter-intuitively, to the whole project. Firstly the production and mix, which are rather retro and weak, when Uli has proven that he can achieve much better results, in the past. The overall vibe might be closer to the originals but that doesn’t mean that they should sound the same or worse than “they” did... secondly, when I had the pleasure to watch Uli perform some of these songs in the “Unity” tour, I was deeply disappointed that he used his fellow guitar player to sing, who wasn’t a singer. Some of those songs are fairly demanding and instead of using some world class vocalist like Mark Boals or Tommy Heart, both of which, Uli has used in the past, the vocals are handled this time by Nathan James a fairly decent singer, who got some fame from a “reality” show, is doing a tour with the x-mas, spectacle known as TSO… (the non-metal version of Savatage, that sells its soul to a family friendly audience… for a nice price) and so on. Not to knock off the guy too much, but he’s average, at best and most of his performances lack in depth and sentimental attachment. In rockers, that isn’t so much of a concern, but in the ballads/slower epic songs, its more evident… the songs sound as if they were performed by an excellent cover’s band, with a singer, who’s more  like a bad “Dickinson” with maybe the range, but a mediocre timbre and a rather unpleasant voice color, so he’s nowhere near being a “Klaus”...
Also, the maestro, stays pretty close, to those songs, when re-interpreting them, still as rock n roll songs, (as they were pretty perfect and spot on, as written) with maybe elaborating a bit more in some solos, offering the odd improv, here and there and just slightly “touching them up”… but not really changing them. Something more daring, like attempting to rearrange them – at least some of the mellower ones for orchestra, might have been a bit more exciting… to be quite honest. Who needs a second rate cover, with slightly alternate orchestrations, when the originals were pretty awesome?
For the story books, the tracklist is: “The Sails of Charon”, “Longing For Fire”, “Crying Days”, “Virgin Killer”, “In Trance”, “Sun in My Hand”, “Yellow Raven” in a rather underwhelming performance (at least vocally, when live, Boals, really antagonized Klaus’ recorded version), as Uli had mentioned that the band, or he had never performed the song!? I wonder if that’s true and if so, why? “Polar Nights” and “Dark Lady” on the first CD, with Uli actually reprising his vocal performances, where he originally sung…
And on the second disk: “Catch Your Train”, “Evening Wind”, “All Night Long” (rather obscure selection(s), even if it was included in the “Tokyo Tapes”), “We’ll Burn the Sky”, “Pictured Life”, the wacky, “Hell Cat”, which is even more psychedelic and Hendrix’d up here... “Life’s Like a River”, and from one of their more psyched albums “Drifting Sun”, an instrumental noodle entitled “Rainbow Dream Prelude” that segues into the title track “Fly to the Rainbow”
I’d be far more interested in Uli concluding his “Under a Dark Sky” opus with a second part, led by the aforementioned Boals, or a new original album, rather than this frankly unnecessary album. The songs themselves are brilliant, but the overall premise of the album as well as the end result, are rather mediocre at best. No Grade. Strictly for completists…