"Beyond Inspiration: A Tribute to Uli Jon Roth" (Lion Music; 2003)

Reviewed by Christopher J. Kelter

One of the guitar players that I've always been meaning to check out is the legendary Uli Jon Roth. So I find it kind of funny that I've never gotten around to hearing Uli Jon Roth, but I end up doing so in a parallel fashion by listening to and reviewing a tribute album dedicated to the very man discussed here.

Roth is probably most widely known as one of the original guitarists in Scorpions, but reached higher acclaim within a smaller circle of guitar aficionados. Roth is credited, along with Deep Purple’s Ritchie Blackmore, as being one of the forbearers of the rise of the neo-classical guitar in heavy rock. Roth achieved this by emulating the techniques of Jimi Hendrix within his own drive and determination to become a complete musician by including classical music in the heavy rock format. 

Because I've never gotten around to getting any of Uli Jon Roth’s material it is obvious that I can't compare this tribute album to the originals. However, from the liner notes by the project coordinator Lars Eric Mattsson, one could surmise that these versions do not stray too far from the originals.

Basically this tribute album became a primer of sorts for me to understand Uli Jon Roth's style and abilities both as a songwriter and as a soloist. Obviously, I hear a lot of what influenced Yngwie Malmsteen due to the infusion of classical music to the heavy rock format. I also got the sense that Roth was one of the few heavy rock composers to actually achieve an acceptable balance between strong musicianship and vocals that don't detract from the songs. Personally, my favorite tracks were Joop Walters' rendition of the hard rocking "Sails Of Charon" and William Stravato's version of the classical-tinged "Return" which features the superbly talented Alex Masi as a soloist. It was also nice to hear Torben Enevoldsen (who has been highly touted by our own R. Scott Bolton on these very pages) on the track "Burning Wheel Turning."

Over the course of the entire album each song features a facet of Roth's abilities that I've been made aware of only because I've read about it somewhere in magazines in my younger days or on the Internet over the last decade. I consider the album to be a success for that very reason. I get to hear about Roth's legendary fluid style and flirtations with classical, blues, and other forms of world music. While this tribute doesn't exactly make me want to reconsider my initial intentions about purchasing Uli Jon Roth material I can definitely say that musical listen experiences and my CD collection have benefited from "Beyond Inspiration: A Tribute To Uli Jon Roth."

"Beyond Inspiration: A Tribute To Uli Jon Roth" was coerced, massaged, and lovingly arranged by Lars Eric Mattsson.

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Rating Guide:

A classic. This record will kick your ass.

Killer. Not a classic but it will rock your world.

So-so. You've heard better.

Pretty bad. Might make a nice coaster.

Self explanatory. Just the sight of the cover makes you wanna hurl.


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Copyright © 2003 by R. Scott Bolton. All rights reserved.
Revised: 04 Oct 2018 19:54:50 -0400 .