“Best Of – Anniversary Edition” by Axel Rudi Pell

Artist: Axel Rudi Pell
Title: “Best Of”
Label: SPV Records
Release Date: 6/16/2009
Genre: Hard Melodic Rock
Rating: 3/5

In terms of physical musical output over the last few years, it seems as though German guitarist Axel Rudi Pell has been quite prolific because not only is he releasing new music for his fans but also cover albums, ballad albums and live releases…..whew, that’s quite a bit to envision especially when you realize that a total of eleven albums have come out since 1998’s “Oceans Of Time”. You might wonder why I locked into this particular release especially since eight albums preceded it and the rationale is very simple. “Oceans Of Time” is the first to find vocalist Johnny Gioeli signing onto the project and the twelve selections on “Best Of – Anniversary Edition” celebrate his work with the guitarist and his band. I have to admit I was never much more than the casual fan of what I heard ARP doing but beyond that the stuff that I heard I also seemed to enjoy. It’s safe to say if Melodic Hard Rock is your thing and you enjoy a talented guitarist and tasty melodies then this is the band for you because it’s highly satisfying at the end of the day. I’ve read other reviews that felt the release cheats itself a little bit and would have been better served up as a comprehensive anthology piece and that much I agree with. Especially when you have almost twenty albums to cover but you do what you can and this recording does give the listener a healthy enough example of the Gioeli years that might spark their own investigations into the back catalog. Never a bad thing in my opinion. One of my first favorite’s re-presentations is the acoustic version of “Forever Angel” since it sounds so powerful when done in this fashion and of course “Strong As A Rock” and “Edge Of The World” since they are bare bones rockers from beginning to end. Even though Pell had delivered some cover material that got his own style blended into it, I was a little surprised to find two of these numbers included here. He gives us the U2 blockbuster “Beautiful Day” which is nice but probably not for the hard core U2 enthusiast. I think the only person who wonders how that bands tunes would sound in the Hard Rock or Metal sense would be someone who is bored with the creators own version but not one of their tried and true fans. I liked it but I had to admit that I heard a lot of terrible cover bands doing it so this became a welcome version in my book. The second cover is Phil Collins’ “In The Air Tonight” and this brooding classic track was a radio standard and one that I feel gets lost in its Metal translation. It’s more of a pure cover and sounds too much like its original to make much sense in having and the extra drumming fills by Terrana seem out of place. This is historically one of the world’s most popular air drum songs and if you don’t believe me just wait until that “moment” in the song comes to see if it doesn’t find you slamming down some air percussion.

The include a booklet that presents graphics from all of Pell’s historical releases and that surprised me as well since half of them are not covered on this release. They should have expanded the art to feature only the recordings delivered and perhaps additional band photos from each significant release. As it stands there are no photos of any of the musicians inside the booklet and their image is left to be the rear cover of the albums artwork case. If you are a die hard Pell fan then I say grab this and if you are curious about what goes down in his side of the musical town then I say pick this one up. If you are only marginally interested then I say give it a pass. Its one of those albums that you can do this with and instead apply the hard earned dollar to an acclaimed full length recording on. Remember that both Rob Rock and Jeff Scott Soto sang for the band and while neither of these fine vocalists are on this release there are eight albums to choose from that do have their notes soaring into the sky and you might want to check those out instead. Choose wisely, as there is a lot of ground to cover when it comes to the music of Axel Rudi Pell.

Track Listing:
1. Edge Of The World
2. Carousel
3. Strong As A Rock
4. Beautiful Day
5. Mystica
6. Forever Angel (acoustic)
7. The Masquerade Ball
8. Rock The Nation
9. Oceans Of Time
10. Tear Down The Walls
11. Ain’t Gonna Win
12. In The Air Tonight

Official Website: http://www.axel-rudi-pell.de/

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