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Ex-Scorpions guitarist gone solo.

Earthquake Uli Jon Roth/Electric Sun - Earthquake (Griffin/Castle) 1979

1. "Electric Sun" (5:16)
2. "Lilac" (2:49)
3. "Burning Wheels Turning" (6:41)
4. "Japanese Dream" (3:52)
5. "Sundown" (4:06)
6. "Winterdays" (1:25)
7. "Still Many Miles Away" (4:40)
8. "Earthquake" (10:31)

Electric Sun
Vinyl pressing of Electric Sun - Earthquake

Uli's first solo output after his split with the Scorpions, released under the band name Electric Sun, gave the guitar prodigy a chance to stretch out a bit and explore his love for all things Hendrix and psychadelic. There are also some Eastern influences, an influence that he also brought into some of the early Scorps records. Uli's fascination for Japan is also quite apparent with songs like "Japanese Dream". There are lots of self indulgent guitar antics on "Earthquake" as well as a few more straight forward cuts. Uli's vocals have always been a bit odd to my ears and are a bit of a distraction, albeit a distraction that diminishes with repeated listens. However, who listens to Uli for the vocals? It is quite obvious listening to this album why Yngwie Malmsteen was so inspired by this German guitar hero. (After all, Yngwie's "Rising Force" moniker was directly lifted from the name of the artwork on this album.) Uli played like few others in the 70's, save for perhaps Frank Marino and Ritchie Blackmore. A pleasant disc, and one that I quite enjoy, despite the slight distraction from the vocals.

My CD copy is autographed by Uli, who I met at the House of Blues in Hollywood, CA in 2002 opening for the Michael Schenker Group.

Fire Wind Uli Jon Roth/Electric Sun - Fire Wind (Griffin/Castle) 1981

1. "Cast Away Your Chains" (3:56)
2. "Indian Dawn" (5:16)
3. "I'll Be Loving You Always" (5:00)
4. "Fire Wind" (5:03)
5. "Predlude to Space Minor" (1:23)
6. "Just Another Rainbow" (3:54)
7. "Children of the Sea" (3:23)
8. "Chaplin And I" (5:45)
9. "Hiroshima" (10:37)
...a. Enola Gay
...b. Tune of Japan
...c. Attack
...d. Lament

I have to admit that while I love Uli Roth's Hendrix inspired guitar playing and find the material he did with the Scorpions to be some of their best, I am not as big a fan of Uli's vocals. They just sound odd to me. However, I still enjoy listening to his solo material and have grown accustomed to the vocals over the years. Without a doubt Jimi Hendrix is a big influence on this album, sounding like a mix of Jimi and some of those early Scorpions CDs. However, 'Fire Wind' is not a blatent attempt to sound like the Scorpions. As a matter of fact, I think Uli was trying to distance himself from his former band a bit, sounding much more ethereal and experimental. Album opener "Cast Away Your Chains" may be the exception to that rule, sounding like an attempt at a single. My favorite part of this disc is when Uli lets loose on his Fender. He is a grossly underrated guitarist.

Beyond the Astral Skies Uli Jon Roth/Electric Sun - Beyond the Astral Skies (EMI) 1985

1.   The Night the Master Comes (4:16)
2.   What Is Love? (3:24)
3.   Why (4:48)
4.   I'll Be There (5:02)
5.   Return (Chant of Angels) (3:27)
6.   Icebreaker (2:39)
7.   I'm a River (4:45)
8.   Angel of Peace( 3:43)
9.   Eleison (6:56)
10.  Son of Sky (2:21)

Beyond the Astral Skies
Vinyl pressing of Electric Sun - Beyond the Astral Skies

"Beyond the Astral Skies" was the third and final album for Uli Jon Roth's Electric Sun. There is a difference between an artist and a rock star. Uli Roth is an artist who paints musical landscapes with his guitar and compositions. With that in mind, most of his Electric Sun material is mood music for me. It's not head banging heavy metal, but rather music to sit back and reflect.

On "Beyond the Astral Skies" Uli explores orchestral and neoclassical influences, mixing them with his guitar-based, hard rock foundation. The album was recorded at a point in Uli's career just before he completely devoted himself to combining rock and classical music. As such, there are still some touches of the early Scorpions. "Night the Master Comes", for example, is a neoclassical metal number that opens the album and sets the tone for the rest of the album. This song easily could have been recorded for "Fly of the Rainbow" and has that psychedelic quality that some of the early Scorps material had. "What Is Love" is a more straight forward hard rock track, not unlike some of the material Uli wrote for albums like "In Trance" and "Virgin Killer". Of course, Uli's Hendrix influenced guitar playing is the centerpiece here. His playing is intricate, layered and sometimes mind-blowingly fast, though never to the point of it sounding messy. "I'll Be There Sticks" sticks out as one of the more inspired pieces with  a nice jam section that echoes Hendrix coupled with Uli's unique, melodic soloing. Uli's guitar melodramatically tells a story as his fingers effortlessly run along the fretboard. As usual, Uli employs his own 'unique' vocal approach that can be a bit off-putting. It's part of the 'mood' of the record.

Also on board are vocalist Nicky Moore (Samson) and drummer Clive Bunker (Jethro Tull). My copy is autographed by Uli.

Uli Jon Roth - Legends of Rock-Live At Castle Donington (SPV) 2002

DISC ONE
1. "Sky Overture" (7:36)
2. "Aranjuez" (3:00)
3. "Let It Roll" (4:45)
4. "Rock Bottom" (11:58)
5. "Sunshine of Your Love" (7:18)
6. "White Room" (5:08)
7. "All Along the Watchtower " (5:13)
8. "Little Wing " (4:33)
DISC TWO
1. "Trail in the Wind" (1:43)
2. "Midnight Train" (5:12)
3. "The King Returns" (2:25)
4. "Spoonful" (10:15)
5. "Doctor Doctor" (7:06)
6. "Fireworks Jam" (10:24)

I have always been a sucker for live albums and I enjoy the energy and magic they capture that often cannot be recreated in a studio.  "Legends of Rock" captures a historic concert featuring Uli Jon Roth and special guests Michael Schenker, Phil Mogg and Pete Way from UFO, Jack Bruce from Cream, Don Airey (Deep Purple, Rainbow, Black Sabbath), Barry Sparks (Dokken, Ted Nugent) and drummer Clive Bunker (Jethro Tull).

The show opens up with a couple of Uli Roth, finger flying originals before the guests start to come out on stage for performances of some well known songs. UFO joins Uli first for spirited renditions of a couple of UFO classics. I can't imagine two guys whose personalities seem to be more polar opposites than Uli Jon Roth and Micheal Schenker, but the two together on one stage is magic. Without seeing the video it's hard to tell who is playing most of the leads on the UFO material, but it sounds to me like it's mostly Schenker taking the leads on the songs. 

Roth gives a diverse and spirited performance throughout switching from Hendrix inspired playing on songs like "Little Wing" to Clapton's riffs on "Sunshine Of Your Love". As would be expected, Uli's interpretation of Hendrix's classics are outstanding. The man is often thought of as a prodigy of Hendrix, even if his style isn't exactly the same. While keeping the spirit of the original songs, Uli plays the songs as only Uli can. He has a very unique style and sound, thanks in part to his custom Sky Guitar. "Legends of Rock" is a fantastic live album with a distinct 70's flare. 

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