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Non-Prog CD Reviews

Uli Jon Roth

Earthquake

Review by Greg Olma

When Uli Jon Roth left the Scorpions, that old excuse of "musical differences" did actually apply. While the Scorpions went on to write more commercial rock songs, Uli Jon Roth decided that he was not going to compromise his musical ambitions just to chase the dollar (or Deutsch Mark as in this case). If I had to compare the style of this CD to another artist, I would have to say that it fits closest with Frank Marino. Both guitarists have a Hendrix vibe but they mix in some jazz elements to make it their own. This reissue on the SPV label adds 3 bonus tracks from a more recent (and hard to find) Uli Jon Roth release. My only complaint about this disc is the 3 bonus tracks. Since Uli is most noted as a guitarist, adding 3 classical piano pieces does not make sense. There is nothing wrong with the songs themselves; it's just that they don't fir with the rest of the album. A couple of live tracks or demos from this time period would have been more appropriate.

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2006 Volume 3 at lulu.com/strangesound.

Track by Track Review
Electric Sun
Uli is not afraid to wear his influences on his sleeves. This track is very Hendrix-y with some vocals that have a bit too much echo on them. It's a fantastic opener and would have made a great Scorpions song.
Lilac
As a song this is not that good but the guitar work really saves it. The lyrics are really spacey and have a '60's hippy feel to them. The vocals are also kind of presented as someone reading poetry over music and less like regular song lyrics.
Burning Wheels Turning
This track has a similar feel to a lot of Frank Marino songs. It has a good melodic guitar solo and at times, Uli slips in a little jazz in his playing.
Japanese Dream
As the title would suggest, there is some Japanese styled guitar playing on this cut. Aside from the guitar work, the rest of the tune has a very Pink Floyd spacey feel.
Sundown
Now this is more like it. Uli Jon Roth puts in a great guitar performance with an especially passionate solo towards the end of this track. This could have been a single because it moves along nicely and has the type of melody that keeps repeating itself in your head.
Winterdays
This is a short instrumental and it sounds just like the title. It is slow and a bit "bleak," just like a winter day.
Still So Many Miles Away
I never thought that I would be writing this about this CD, but this track has an early Blue Oyster Cult vibe to it. I think the main reason is Uli sings in the same sort of phrasing style as Eric Bloom. There is also a bit of Thin Lizzy sounding guitar work. Since Uli Jon Roth is the only guitarist, he must have overdubbed the instrument to give it that signature Thin Lizzy double guitar sound.
Earthquake
The title track is an instrumental that starts off with some guitar sounds. Then at about the 5-minute mark, this turns into quite a guitar workout. This is definitely the showpiece of the album and at 10 ½ minutes, it is quite an impressive tune.
Aquila - The Eagle And The Rainbow (Bonus Track)
This is the first of the 3 bonus cuts that come from the Aquila Suite. It is a classical piano piece that is about 2 minutes long. I'm not quite sure why this was added to an early release that is mainly guitar oriented.
Endymion - The Eternal Sleeper (Bonus Track)
Again, we get another track from Aquila Suite and it is a short classical piano piece. 
Ballerina - Dance With Infinity (Bonus Track)
Although the playing is very good on these 3 bonus tracks, I don't think their inclusion on this album is worthwhile. I know labels want to give something extra when reissuing but I think it would have been better had they just released the initial album. I also don't think that anyone who buys this disk will be influenced enough to purchase the Aquila Suite CD because the 2 styles of music are from very different genres. That being said, Uli Jon Roth plays the piano as impressively as he plays guitar.
You'll find concert pics of this artist in the Music Street Journal members area.
 
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