Scorpions – Taken By Force
My first Scorpions experience was Tokyo Tapes courtesy of a friend.
And I grew up as an Uli Jon Roth fan.
Fast forward many years later, I’m reading interviews of artist, who mention Uli Jon Roth as an influence. Guitarists like George Lynch, Marty Friedman, Dave Mustaine, Alex Skolnick and Kirk Hammet just to name a few. I heard his style of writing in Adrian Vandenberg and Randy Rhoads. And although Yngwie Malmsteen was classed as a Richie Blackmore clone, he also had Uli Jon Roth influences.
And for Uli Jon Roth, he was a Hendrix devotee. So he merged those Hendrix influences with Euro Classical music and the result’s is a fusion of blues, rock and classical.
So let’s relive a very underrated and more or less forgotten Scorpions album from the glorious Uli Jon Roth era who as a lead guitarist had free reign to paint whatever leads he wanted.
“We’ll Burn The Sky” starts off with those clean tone arpeggios and a haunting vocal from Klaus Meine. And it moves into this staccato riff, which is the embryo of melodic rock.
That, ahhhhh breakdown from about the 2 minute mark, leads back into those clean tone arpeggios. This one is written by Schenker and lyrics are provided by Roth’s partner, Monika Dannemann, in tribute to Jimi Hendrix, who she was with at the time of his death.
“I’ve Got to Be Free” is a Roth cut with a wicked guitar riff and a Boston “Peace Of Mind” solo section.
“The Riot of Your Time” is a Schenker and Meine cut. For those questioning Meine’s abilities to write social conscious lyrics, then they should check this out. And those people pushing the theories of “Winds OF Change” being written by a CIA operative, should also check out this song.
“The Sails of Charon” is Roth’s shining moment. It’s been covered a lot. The title is enough to get me interested. Then there is the riff. A fusion of Classical and Spanish scales.
And that lead break over the intro riff.
It gave birth to the Shrapnel Label and shred guitar because it wasn’t just fast pentatonic licks like most of the guitarist’s did in the bands. This was a lead break like the lead breaks from the instrumental fusion artists like Al DiMeola, John MacLaughlin and Alan Holdsworth.
How good is “Your Light” which is another Roth cut, a mixture of funk, blues and rock?
“He’s a Woman – She’s a Man” is a Schenker, Meine and Herman Rarebell. I first heard this song when George Lynch covered it for a Scorpions tribute album. That intro riff and everything that comes after, is like a riot.
Thin Lizzy – Bad Reputation
It was a backs to the wall album. If you want to read the story behind, click on this link for Loudersound.com.
It wasn’t until the 90’s that I got a chance to really dig in to their 70’s output.
“Soldier Of Fortune” has nice harmony guitars in the Chorus, while “Bad Reputation” has a nasty guitar riff in the verses with funky bass lines.
“Opium Trail” is one of my favourite cuts. I heard John Norum’s cut first with Glen Hughes on vocals and became a fan instantly.
“Southbound” and that opening harmony riff. Listen to it.
And I still don’t like “Dancing In The Moonlight”, but I do like “Killer Without A Cause”.
And that harmony intro to “That Woman’s Gonna Break Your Heart” gets me playing air guitar and drums.
“Dear Lord” is the closer. Check out the lyrics from Lynott who was already experimenting with his potions and pills.
I’m in deep and I need your help / there’s no one to turn to and I can’t help myself / Dear Lord hear this call / oh Lord, save my fall.
No one heard the call as it all came crashing down by the mid 80s.
Judas Priest – Sin After Sin
This album is one of those underrated albums. A bridge between the start of the band and the peak commercial success of the band.
To record this album on a major label, it meant the band had to forfeit their rights to their first two albums to their original label, who kept the masters with them.
It’s also the album in which Judas Priest toured the US as support to REO Speedwagon and Foreigner. Seeing those three bands together on a bill is all wrong.
I love “Sinner”. So many great movements, like the intro/verse riff, the start of the solo section in the middle, then another outro solo and it just keeps on rolling and rolling and rocking.
“Diamonds And Rust” is a melodic rock gem, a cover of a Joan Baez folk song, but the way Judas Priest do it, it’s basically the sound which The Night Flight Orchestra built a career on writing songs like it.
“Starbreaker” chugs along on it’s F#m note.
“Last Rose Of Summer” sounds like it came from a Bad Company album, and very similar to “Shooting Star” while “Call For The Priest” has a harmony lead break which makes me want to hear it again. “Here Come The Tears” is one of those ballad like songs but in the 70’s it didn’t feel forced or pretentious. And the last two minutes is full of melodic lead breaks with a repeating baritone vocal line and then a high banshee vocal line.
“Dissident Aggressor” starts off like “Roadhouse Blues” merged with “Children Of The Grave” before Halford’s banshee operatic wail kicks in.
How good does “Race With The Devil” start off and then from the 28 second mark it moves into this blues like riff?
And most of the songs are forgotten, very rarely finding their way into the set lists. But it’s a worthy album.
Aerosmith – Draw The Line
The cover is one of the best. The cartoon caricatures on a white background just worked.
And it’s got my favourite Aerosmith track in “Kings And Queens” which producer Jack Douglas described the lyric writing process with Steven Tyler like “pulling teeth” because of the state he was in.
And since Joe Perry is not credited as a writer, he doesn’t even play on the track, with all guitars handled by Brad Whitford, including the lead guitars. Glen Hughes also did a killer cover if it.
And Steve Tyler has given many different interpretations as to what “Kings And Queens” is really about. In the liner notes to “Pandora’s Box”, he wrote that the song is about the holy wars and how many people died because of their beliefs and non-beliefs.
In his book, he said it’s about “a stoned-out rock star in his tattered satin rags lying on the ancient stone floor of a castle – slightly mad, but still capable of conjuring up a revolutionary album that would astound the ears of the ones who heard it and make the critics cringe.”
And relations further deteriorated when the Joe Perry penned “Bright Light Fright” was ignored by the band, but Perry still persisted with getting it done and since Tyler refused to sing it, Perry sang the lead vocal on it.
Journey – Next
To show how important “Next” is to the Journey history, all of the songs on the album vanished from the band’s live set list after 1979 and “Spaceman” and “Here We Are” have never been performed live. And “Spaceman” was also the single.
This “early” Journey was experimental and progressive, largely unknown to the masses, who would became fans from 1979/80.
Gregg Rolie is doing vocals (along with his normal piano playing) and the reviews of the time spoke about the vocals being poor. There is no Fleischman or Perry heroics.
But the band is a powerhouse band, with Aynsley Dunbar on drums, Neal Schon (sporting a monster hair style) on guitar and Ross Valory on bass.
Songs to check out are “Spaceman”, the progressive “Hustler” and the instrumental “Nickel and Dime”.
The Alan Parsons Project – I-Robot
I like the Alan Parsons Project because it feels like a mix tape of different artists as different vocalists do the lead vocals on the lyrical tracks and then there are the symphonic movie like pieces for the instrumentals.
Plus the themes of the albums all revolved around science fiction themes, which suited me fine.
“Don’t Let It Show” is more known to me because Pat Benatar covered it for “In the Heat of the Night”. Lead vocals on this album are done by Dave Townsend.
“Some Other Time” and “Breakdown” are my favourite tracks. Vocals on “Some Other Time” are done by Peter Straker and Jaki Whitren, while vocals on “Breakdown” are done by Allan Clarke.
And these names might mean nothing to people, but they all had careers in musicals, and as solo artists or with bands and with collaborations with other artists in different genres. And Alan Parsons rounded em all up to do rock songs.
The instrumental closer “Genesis Ch. 1 V. 32” (with its Choir) appeared in the episode “Toys” from “Homecoming” and I know that because I just finished watching season 1 two nights ago and I am currently half way through season 2. Plus Wikipedia confirmed it as well.
Finally, Alice Cooper’s “Lace And Whiskey” gets a listen, with his private eye persona concept story. “Lace And Whiskey”, “You and Me”, “King Of The Silver Screen” and “(No More) Love At Your Convenience” are the songs to check out.
But it was the beginning of the end of his marvellous 70’s output, and the start of the rehabilitation which would hit platinum heights 11 years later.
See ya back in the 2000’s for Part 5.