Axel Rudi Pell - Best Of (Anniversary Edition) (SPV/Riot)

Released to celebrate the tenth anniversary of the current ARP line-up, and the twentieth anniversary of ARP’s first album, this twelve track retrospective covers tracks from 98’s Oceans of Time right up to last year’s Tales Of The Crown, showcasing some sterling and classy classic Euro rock as well as a couple of intriguing cover tunes. Well, okay one good, one shocker: but we’ll get to them.

Opening song Edge Of The World from the 2002 album Shadow Zone showcases perfectly what Axel Rudi Pell is all about.  The European classic metal sound, Axel’s  melodic and soaring guitar lines, the hooks and the voice of Johnny Gioeli. It’s a tried and true formula and it works. 

The band’s sound hangs somewhere between Dio, Rainbow and The Scorpions with Gioeli’s voice bringing to mind both Ronnie James Dio and Klaus Meine. The big rock ballads Forever Angel and Oceans Of Time hover dangerously close to Winds Of Change-era Scorpions and the ten minute opus The Masquerade Ball from the 2000 release of the same name is dead set Dio-era Rainbow, but since when has that been a bad thing anyway?

Rock The Nation is Bon Jovi with balls, while Tear Down the Walls and Ain’t Gonna Win have some real crunch to them, a perfect example of both the band’s power and drive with great melodies and Pell’s sizzling guitar work coming to the fore.

As for the cover songs – well, both are from the 2007 album Diamonds Unlocked – an album that is all covers.  Here we get the U2 song Beautiful Day – an amazing version that reminds you that despite Bono being possibly the only man on the planet more annoying than Sting he can write a decent tune and when the right band tackles it, well the results are pretty decent.  If his band doesn’t quite work he can probably always get a job as a songwriter.

The other cover is the Phil Collins hit In The Air Tonight.  The only good thing about this song is that it’s the last track on the album so you don’t have to hit skip, just the stop button.  Let’s face it, even the gorilla couldn’t make this song hip.  A turd is a turd no matter how much you polish it!

A strong collection and a solid reminder of how good this band is.  Melodic, tough, catchy – its all here.  If you haven’t discovered these guys yet, this is a pretty decent place to start.  Just ignore the last song, please, I beg you.  Otherwise they might do another Phil Collins cover and no one should have to suffer through that.

Axel Rudi Pell's Best Of Anniversary Edition is out now on SPV/Riot.