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The Ballads IV

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01 Where The Wild Waters Flow
02 Holy Diver
03 Hallelujah
04 Northern Lights
05 Noblesse Oblige (Opus 5 AdagioContabile)
06 Love Gun
07 Glory Night
08 In The Air Tonight
09 Touching My Soul
10 Like A Child Again
11 No Change To Live
12 Haunted Castle Serenade (Opus 4 Grazioso E Agresso)
13 The Curse Of The Damned
The history of rock is full of misconceptions. We all heard that popular one: rock music is loud and dangerous, it´s the devil’s music. But doesn’t everybody know at least one beautiful song by a rock band? Even if you are not attending the mighty School of Rock, you know one of those bloody emotional moments when the lead guitar sings its way through the solo and the chorus comes back while you are flying on the wings of heaven. Or something else.
We all need a little bit of silence sometimes, just to stop from being part of this crazy world we live in. Mostly there’s no silence in those moments of specialty – there’s a hidden soundtrack which we love and adore. And never forget. Ballads are a girl’s best friend? Well, sometimes they appeal to guys, too. Depends, right?
They say only the English and the Americans can rock. Those people also thought the Berlin Wall would be there forever. Wrong! History is made by people who are driven. Driven by emotions, by their inner strength, driven by passion. Talking about those qualifications here’s one musician who’s passing the torch of passion since he was a little kid: Axel Rudi Pell, born in the middle of Western Germany in 1960, was hooked on to the “devil’s music” when he first heard the opening chords and drum rolls of “Highway Star” from Deep Purple’s “Machine Head” classic. We’re talking 1972 here. Since then nothing really changed.
Deep Purple are still playing that famous song and Axel? He’s had established himself as a fine rockstar by himself, having sold almost up to 1.5 million records worldwide. Since leaving the influential German metal outfit Steeler in 1989 he’s out there on his own, recording and touring with the finest bunch of singers in the world of rock: Charlie Huhn (Ted Nugent, Gary Moore, Victory, Humble Pie, Foghat), Rob Rock (Impelliteri, Driver, Joshua, Avantasia), Jeff Scott Soto (Yngwie Malmsteen, Soul Sirkus, Talisman, Journey, Trans-Siberian Orchestra) and last, but not least the mighty Johnny Gioeli who’s has been working with Axel since 1997 (of course, being in Hardline before that, a project started by Journey’s guitar legend Neal Schon in 1991). There were great drummers as well, for example legendary Joerg Michael (Rage, Grave Digger, Saxon, Running Wild, Stratovarius), before the unbeatable Mike Terrana joined the Pell camp in 1998 (the latter being in bands like Masterplan, Savage Circus, Rage and working with Yngwie Malmsteen, Tony MacAlpine and Steve Lukather). On bass we’ll find Axel’s good old friend from those rememberable Steeler times: Volker Krawczak being the foundation that Axel’s sound is built on. Not to forget his musical partner in crime, the wizard on the black and white keys: Ferdie Doernberg who worked with Rough Silk, Helloween, Holy Moses, Therion and others.
It’s been seven years since the last Axel Rudi Pell compilation “The Ballads III” saw the light of day. Lots of things happened, most importantly the tragic death of the iconic Ronnie James Dio (Rainbow/Black Sabbath) in the May of 2010. Axel not only lost one of his inspirations, he also lost a friend, touring with Dio in the summer of 2009 for the last time in Germany. That lead to a tribute which stands out among the many already been done all over the world: Dio’s classic tune, the title track of his first solo release, “Holy Diver”, finds a new magic in Pell’s performance, an orchestral and very emotional version where Gioeli sings his ass off.
One of his finest moments creates Axel with his newest song “Where The Wild Waters Flow”, being one of the best ballads he’s ever written to date.
But the climax of “The Ballads IV” is without a doubt the fascinating and tear-dropping version of Leonard Cohen’s classic “Hallelujah”. Gioeli is joined by a children’s choir here! You would love to hear that song during your own funeral, don’t get me wrong!
There are 9 more songs, of course, pretty much known from his previous albums (e.g. Kiss’ “Love Gun” and Phil Collins’ “In The Air Tonight”) which wraps up another classic, dynamic and high-quality Axel Rudi Pell album. As one fan from Israel said on Facebook: “If there was justice in the music business, your ballads would be as big as the Scorpions one.”
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