As a general rule, I do not like ballads… but since discovering the music of Axel Rudi Pell back in 2010, I’ve become a big fan of his work.
A lot of that is because of my love for Rainbow. And with Axel Rudi Pell (the man) loving everything Ritchie Blackmore related, Axel Rudi Pell (the band) really are a very good extension to the Rainbow legacy, especially as ex Rainbow drummer, Bobby Rondinelli joined the crew about 4 years ago.
So this album is the fifth in a successful series and it covers a few of the slower numbers from the last 3 studio albums, three new tracks, one of which is a cover version, and a couple of other covers. So in total 10 tracks clocking in at about 73 minutes… all of which is pure quality.
The album opens with a new track, Love’s Holding On, which sees Johnny Gioeli duet with Bonnie Tyler.
And this can definitely be described as a ballad.
Plinking piano, tasteful solos and a stunning melding of passionate vocal styles. Gioeli, who for me is the best Hard Rock singer since the late, great Ronnie James Dio, hits the higher notes, whilst Ms Tyler has lost none of the power from her trademark smoky tones. This song could have launched a million lighters, before people changed to holding up their mobiles… but it’s a beautiful way to begin the album, says the man who doesn’t like ballads.
The other new songs are a cover of an Ed Sheeran song, I See Fire, which is from The Hobbit soundtrack. I’ve never heard Ed Sheeran, but this is a good song, which I’m sure crushes the original. And that’s followed by the last new track, On The Edge Of Our Time, which sees Mr Pell mastering his Ritchie Blackmore songbook to the nth degree with some very tasteful guitar licks which could easily be from the 1st Rainbow album, Ritchie Blackmore’s Rainbow. The body of the song isn’t a million miles away from Dreaming Dead from the 2010 ARP album, The Crest.
Going back to the cover versions, Neil Young’s classic Hey Hey My My gets an uber-ballad makeover and a massive Neil Young fan, I love it. It’s more like the acoustic (Out Of The Blue) version that the full throttle, (Into The Black) And this version sounds like it should have been tagged onto Neil Young’s 1972 opus, Harvest.
Closing the album is a the final cover version, which is a live version of the Deep Purple classic Mistreated, which features Doogie White and Tony Carey as guests. This was recorded during the ARP 25-year anniversary show in Balingen in July 2014.
Sandwiched in between the tracks I’ve mentioned are 5 more recent numbers, one of which is live and others are from the last 3 studio albums. So these are more for new converts rather than long standing fans.
And if you are a fan of Hard Rock / Heavy Metal from the 70s and 80s, Axel Rudi Pell is an essential band to have on your list. I was quite a late comer to the party, but I’m just glad I made the discovery.
This is a really good starting point if you’ve not yet joined the cause, but 2010’s The Crest is my recommended starting point, but any of the 4 or 5 albums before that are just as worthy.