I’m having a hard time writing this month’s installment of Axe Grinders. I’ve been starring at the cover of the Scorpions album “In Trance” for the last 45 minutes. One of the best album covers to come out of the 1970s or ever, probably. It has everything I look for in a good album cover a beautiful girl, pouty lips, a guitar and, oh yes, an exposed breast. I wonder who that young lady is and where is she today? What exactly were her intentions with that guitar?
The white Stratocaster on the cover belonged to twenty-two year old Uli Jon Roth. Uli would go on to establish himself as one of the greats playing alongside Satriani and Michael Schenker (future Scorpion guitarist Rudolph Schenker’s older brother) during the famous G3 tours. But, his playing on In Trance shows a slightly bluesier side that really doesn’t shine until you begin to listen carefully.
There was a shredder trying to get out. Roth’s later work would go on to explore many areas of classical composition, but here, played mostly in blues scales, his work really sets the stage for the fret board pyrotechnics made famous during the 1980s. Take a listen to Top of the Billand see if you disagree. That one is my favorite on this album. And, well, that’s what this column is all about.
It should be noted that Roth’s strat, as it lies prone in front of our siren from the first paragraph, is white just like the Stratocaster made famous by, the late, Jimi Hendrix. I think Roth may have had more than a passing admiration for the guitarist. Uli was romantically linked to Monika Dannemann, Jimi’s girlfriend at the time of Jimi’s death. But, I don’t really care. I just wonder if he nailed the cover girl. Probably.
Uli's Signature "Sky" guitar made by Dean Guitars.