Album review: Uli Jon Roth’s Electric Sun, Beyond the Astral Skies (1985)

ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED IN THE GEORGIA STRAIGHT, JULY 5, 1985

By Steve Newton

Uli Jon Roth used to be known as Ulrich Roth, and he used to play lead guitar on Scorpions albums like Virgin Killer and Taken By Force before the Scorps replaced him with current axeman Matthias Jabs and struck it rich with Blackout and Love at First Sting.

Apparently Ulrich found religion of some sort when he split with Scorps, changing his name as well as his wicked metal ways. There’s nothing as raunchy as “He’s a Woman, She’s a Man” or “Speedy’s Coming” on his latest Electric Sun album, Beyond the Astral Skies. In fact, the LP is “dedicated to Martin Luther King and to You”, and contains songs with titles like “Angel of Peace” and “Return (Chant of Angels)”.

Don’t get the wrong idea, however. This is no lightweight album project. And it’s more than just a showcase for Roth’s exceptional guitaring. While his one-note liquid screams and brutal vibrato inventions are sure to please Hendrix aficionados, there’s also operatic, pseudo-folksy, progressive stylings ingenously mixed together.

Roth handles all the guitars and keyboards on Beyond the Astral Skies, most of the lead vocals, and some bass, and is joined by ten other musicians and singers, including former Jethro Tull drummer Clive Bunker. Six recording engineers, five mixing engineers, and seven studios were employed in Roth’s ambitous musical undertaking.

Beyond the Astral Skies comes highly recommended to those with a fetish for wailing guitars and a taste for adventurous arrangements.

 

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