Tokyo Tapes - Scorpions (RCA)
Recorded live in Japan and released in 1978, the German Scorpions play their way through four sides of machine-shop heavy metal. The songs are generally undistinguished (this band exhibits little originality in the songwriting department) , the drum work tends to be as rigid as rigor mortis, and the singing, in phonetic English, approximates the sound of a barking dog_ What makes the album a delight, though, is the guitar work of Ulrich Roth. Like Edward Van Halen, Roth's style combines flash (ala Jeff Beck and Johnny Winter), technique (Allan Hold s worth and Harvey Mandel), power (Leslie West a and Hendrix) and taste (Ritchie Blackmore). His solos are swooping, over-powering sorties, with dizzying sonic riffs, fleet-fingered note configurations and screaming obstinate sustains. This leads to a monotonous virtuosity that begs to be paid attention to, though. As is the case with most fret masters in rock and roll, the harmonic palette is limited compared to the full chromatic smorgasbord classical or jazz formats afford musicians given to playing many notes; after a bit , all those scurrying steeple races up and down the guitar neck resemble inspiration and melodrama less and the mechanical fury of factory machines more. Maybe that’s the point.