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Uli Jon Roth - Tokyo Tapes Revisited: Live In Japan

Label: UDR Music
Format: CD/DVD
Released: 2016
Reviewed By: Mark Gromen
Rating: 8/ 10

Available as a stand-alone pair of CDs, and/or part of a 2.5 hour DVD package (which includes 18 minutes of vintage, tourist home movies from the '78 Asian trek, shot by Uli on his 8mm camera), truth be told, this isn't the ex-Scorpions guitarist re-playing the setlist from the Germans' original live testimonial, especially since Roth wasn't the main vocalist. That said, ‘Backstage Queen’, ‘Suspender Love’, ‘In Search Of The Peace Of Mind’, ‘He's A Woman, She's A Man’, ‘Speedy's Coming’, ‘Steamrock Fever’ and ‘Robot Man’ as well as their covers of ‘Hound Dog’ and ‘Long Tall Sally’ are all absent from the original running order, although Roth opts for album closing versions of Hendrix's ‘Little Wing’ and Dylan's ‘All Along The Watchtower’ instead. There are other Scorps inclusions, plus Roth solo creations, most notably a few “Virgin Killer” tracks.


In the deluxe box set (limited to 800 pieces) there are a pair of additional concerts (2 CDs each), warm-ups for this taping. In Osaka he added the otherwise unaired ‘Yellow Raven’ and ‘Hellcat’, plus another Hendrix cut ‘If 6 Was 9’.

Returning to the same venue, in February, 2015, there's a full band supporting, with a couple of singers, lead vocals handled by Nathan James (TSO/Inglorious) and a host of backing guitarists, but make no mistake, the soft spoken Roth is the star attraction. On the video he reveals anecdotes between songs. ‘Longing For Fire’, off “In Trance” is a surprise, up second in the album sequence. James foolishly tries to sing/duel against the Sky Guitar during ‘Sails Of Charon’. Herr Roth steps to the mic, for the first time, on ‘The Sun In My Hand’, another early Scorps tune. Things start to get a little active by the time ‘We'll Burn The Sky’ is aired, the guitarist pumping his fist and moving about the stage. Dual leads for ‘In Trance’, then Roth, by himself, pulls up a stool, for the nearly nine minute acoustic instrumental ‘Rainbow Dream Prelude’, during which he's only momentary joined by synth and drums, separately.

Like the recent Rainbow live release, difficult to listen to some of these tunes with a new singer. After almost 40 years with “Tokyo Tapes”, expect to hear Klaus Meine's nasally accented whine, but no. After a short drum solo, it's triple guitar leads for the start of ‘Fly To The Rainbow’, which kicks off Disc #2, with Roth returning to the mic, but only on the trippy, six-string histrionics portion. The string busting, whammy bar effects lead into ‘Top Of The Bill’. Plenty of embellishment on the 10:30 ‘Polar Nights’ and audience sing-along ‘I've Got To Be Free’. At 15:43, the Roth/James sung ‘Dark Lady’ is the lengthy behemoth. Stirring ‘Pictured Life' and ‘Catch Your Train’ are the final Scorpions stuff (the latter was originally missing from the '78 release, only added back on the anniversary reissue, last year). Classic guitar tones from one of the (somehow) oft overlooked masters.

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