Axel Rudi Pell
‘The Ballads V’
2017 release from Steamhammer/SPV.
Johnny Gioeli – Vocals. Axel Rudi Pell – Lead, rhythm and acoustic guitars. Volker Krawczak – Bass. Ferdy Doernberg – Keyboards. Bobby Rondinelli – Drums.
Artist location: Germany. USA.
4 out of 5 stars rating.
Reviewed by David.
- Love’s Holding On (featuring Bonnie Tyler).
- I See Fire (Ed Sheeran cover).
- On The Edge Of Our Time.
- Hey Hey My My (Neil Young cover).
- Lived Our Lives Before.
- When The Truth Hurts.
- Forever Free.
- Lost In Love.
- The Line (Live, previously unreleased).
- Mistreated (Live, featuring Doogie White. Deep Purple cover).
- Love’s Holding On (Radio edit. Bonus track).
Well it is a new year which means it is time for a new Axel Rudi Pell album. Seriously, how does this guy keep on pumping these albums out? Even though this is, for the most part, a collection of previously released material, it still contains some new tracks per the usual ARP ballads collections formula, and the ones contained here are superb.
Pell is definitely no stranger to ballads, as is evidenced by this, his fifth collection of them, but I think these are where he really shines as a writer and in my opinion, Johnny Gioeli never sounds better than when he is belting out an emotional ballad. So, even though I buy all of ARP’s original studio albums and have most every track that are on these albums already, I always end up buying these collections as well, and typically they are my favorite records from Pell.
This new one is no different. Ten different songs with three new tracks included, and there is not a dud in the mix.
I typically give a rundown of each track of an album to at least just let you all know what type of songs are presented on the record, but considering that these are all ballads and most have been previously released then I will only talk about the new tracks that are contained on this one.
First up is a duet with the legendary Bonnie Tyler. ‘Love’s Holding On‘ is a fantastic track and these two great voices mix terrifically, giving us a beautiful new song to add in with some of the best Pell has written. Check out the link near the top of the page to see the music video for this track.
‘I See Fire‘ is a cover of a song by an artist I am not familiar with, Ed Sheeran. After a quick search and an even quicker listen, I learned why I was not familiar with him, but regardless of my complete dislike of the original artist’s music, Axel gave this the usual ARP treatment and Pell and company deliver an excellent version of the song here with an outstanding performance from Johnny. What’s new there, right?
‘On The Edge Of Our Time‘ is one of my favorites on this record. This almost eight minute track is pure ARP and is one of the new tracks from the album. A complete delight.
‘Hey Hey My My‘ is next at track four. This Neil Young cover comes from the 2014 ‘Into The Storm‘ album.
‘Lived Our Lives Before‘ comes from 2012’s ‘Circle Of The Oath‘.
‘When The Truth Hurts‘ also comes from the ‘Into The Storm‘ record.
‘Forever Free‘ comes off of the latest studio album from the band, 2016’s excellent ‘Game Of Sins‘.
‘Lost In Love‘ also comes from the ‘Game Of Sins‘ record.
‘The Line (live)‘ is a live version of the beautiful song that was originally on the 2000 ‘The Masquerade Ball‘ record and the 2004 ballads collection, ‘The Ballads III‘. An excellent version of the song and as usual, Gioeli shines on it. What a voice!
‘Mistreated (live)‘ is a live cover of Deep Purple’s classic song. This one features Doogie White (Michael Schenker’s Temple Of Rock, ex-Rainbow, La Paz) on the main vocals with Johnny providing some backup vocals. This has always been one of my favorite Deep Purple songs and the guys do a great job with it. A very long track that clocks in around the fourteen minute mark.
‘Love’s Holding On (radio edit)‘ ends the album and is just a slightly trimmed down version of the album opener.
All in all this is an excellent collection of some beautiful music from a man that knows a thing or two about writing a ballad. The album really only suffers from the one thing that all of Pell’s albums suffer from, repetitiveness. The man can write some massive songs, but they do tend to run together a bit, especially when you are talking about a record full of similarly paced tracks.
However, even with that aspect of the record, the album is superb, Gioeli has never sounded better and it features some of Axel’s great works. Say what you will about him, but the man really can write some epic ballads.
Now I am a HUGE fan of Johnny Gioeli. He has one of the best voices of the genre and definitely has one of the voices that has held up the best over time and, as I have said before, I think his voice has only gotten better with age, amazingly enough. Axel Rudi Pell has had some of the finest voices of the genre sing for his music over the years but Gioeli and Pell were a match made in heaven as Johnny’s work on the ARP records are always some of his greatest vocal work, an amazing feat considering the man never sounds anything less than extraordinary.
There is nothing new here and as a collection then this will likely only appeal to major fans of Gioeli and Pell, but if you are even a casual fan of either then you owe it to yourself to check out the new songs presented here if nothing else. If for no other reason then to hear a master singer at work.
Quite honestly perhaps one of the finest collections this guitar virtuoso has given us yet.