Roth, Uli Jon - Legends Of Rock: Live At Castle Donnington

Year of Release: 2002
Label: SPV
Catalog Number: 74642
Format: CD
Total Time: 86:38:00

What a concert this must have been. Recorded live at the Castle Donnington Rock and Blues festival in 1991 [actually 2001 -PW ed.], this album captured a performance that would have been bliss for any self-respecting fan of sixties and seventies rock (not least the 17,000 people who were actually there). The concert was headed by Uli Jon Roth, the legendary neoclassical guitarist, accompanied by Don Airey (keys), Barry Sparks (bass) and Clive Bunker (drums), and joined by Jack Bruce (vocals/bass from Cream) and UFO members Phil Mogg (vocals), Pete Way (bass) and Michael Schenker (guitars). Roth's central aim for this performance was to take rock back to its roots, performing some of his favourite work from that era, and hopefully to show music as free-spirited as he wishes it still were. He writes: " seemed to me that many people in the music industry ... had allowed themselves to be in artistic straitjackets ... bands were being judged more by their looks and hair styles than by the quality of their albums and performances...the era of the big hype had begin and there was no turning away from it."

To this end, the set list for the night was a mixture of rock classics, some composed by the performers involved, some ageless covers from other artists, and two spontaneous jams. This is an uninhibited performance, letting the hair fly and the music run wild and free, it's a joy to listen to. There's a mixture of styles involved; the neoclassical expertise of Roth bumps shoulders with the bluesy rock of Cream and Willie Dixon, the rock 'n' roll of UFO, the technicality of Jimi Hendrix and the folksy rock of Bob Dylan. Perhaps the best example of the devil-may-care attitude to this concert is the story behind the final track, "Fireworks Jam." When the concert finished, Roth decided to do a final improv-jam, by way of an encore, but they only had two minutes to do it in - due to the concert being run to a tight schedule, and with fireworks to come. Obviously this "strict" time constraint was completely forgotten in the moment, and ten minutes later they were still jamming with the fireworks going off in the background (which unfortunately cannot be heard on the recording, because that would have been really cool).

The night starts out with Roth performing some nonchalantly proficient neoclassical solos, his own work "Sky Overture" and "Concerto d'Aranjuez" by Joaquin Rodrigo. He's then joined by UFO, who pull out two from their own repertoire, "Let It Roll" and "Rock Bottom" (how much fun is this song?); Bruce then joins the lineup, introducing classic Cream - "Sunshine Of Your Love" and "White Room." It's not the best treatement of "Sunshine" that I've ever heard, but "White Room" is very stylishly done. The first half is then brought to a close with two more covers, Bob Dylan's "All Along The Watchtower" and "Little Wing" by Jimi Hendrix. The second disc starts out again with a short Roth solo, "Trail In The Wind," followed by a rockin' "Midnight Train" from UFO. The brief improv-jam "The King Returns" is sandwiched in next, while waiting for stage changeovers to be completed; the lazy Willie Dixon number "Spoonful" is then covered, and more UFO with "Doctor Doctor." Finishing the album in consummate style is the aforementioned "Fireworks Jam," which was unexpectedly augmented by the return of Bruce to the stage to jam alongside Roth. This has some really great moments in it, particularly the choppy chords at the beginning, and a particular bit in the middle where Roth obviously still had that famous riff from "Sunshine Of Your Love" in his mind.

This is a really classy album and one I've really enjoyed examining for review - a mixture of truly legendary talent and an overall relaxed attitude which is a pleasure to soak up. My verdict - check it out.

[This review originally appeared November 2003 at the ProgPower Online review site -ed.]

Disc One: Sky Overture (7:36) / Aranjuez (3:00) / Let It Roll (4:45) / Rock Bottom (11:58) / Sunshine Of Your Love (7:18) / White Room (5:08) / All Along The Watchtower (5:13) / Little Wing (4:33)

Disc Two: Trail In The Wind (1:43) / Midnight Train (5:12) / The King Returns (2:25) / Spoonful (10:15) / Doctor Doctor (7:06) / Fireworks Jam (10:24)

Uli Jon Roth - sky guitar, vocals
Don Airey - keyboards
Clive Bunker - drums
Barry Sparks - bass, rhythm

Jack Bruce - bass, vocals


Michael Schenker - guitar
Phil Mogg - vocals
Pete Way - bass

Scorpions - Fly To The Rainbow (1974)
Scorpions - In Trance (1975)
Scorpions - Virgin Killer (1976)
Scorpions - Taken By Force (1977)
Scorpions - Tokyo Tapes (1978)
Electric Sun - Earthquake (1979)
Electric Sun - Fire Wind (1981)
Beyond The Astral Skies (1984)
Aquila Suite (1991)
Sky Of Avalon - Prologue To Symphonic Legends (1996)
Transcendental Sky Guitar (2000)
Legends of Rock: Live at Castle Donnington (2002)
Metamorphosis Of Vivaldi's Four Seasons (2003)
Under A Dark Sky (2008)

Genre: Melodic Metal

Origin DE

Added: January 31st 2005
Reviewer: Karyn Hamilton
Artist website:
Hits: 1011
Language: english


[ Back to Reviews Index | Post Comment ]