(8/10) Normally this kind of records have a street date that's a few weeks before Christmas because they can act as nice presents for people that don’t want to do something wrong. Longplayers, filled with ballads, are a safe bet since this kind of songs can reach a wider audience. At least you can reach out to more music fans than with screaming guitars only.
In most of the cases I would guess that also a financial benefit is at least a strong motivator for such an album, but things are different when it comes to Ruhrpott-based guitar wizard Axel Rudi Pell. The six-stringer released in the past a series of four longplayers, all filled with ballads. Those records have been highly successful with the latest one even entering the German album chats. Therefor it seems natural that Pell continues with this successful outlet, showing the soft core of a hard rocking man.
And as the earlier discs followed a simple numbering systematic also the new record uses the same approach. “The Ballads V” is the title of the new longplayer that features ten songs. The fact that the blond guitarist is too ambitious to just take some of his old songs and put them on a new disc, things get quite exciting on “The Ballads V”.
Starting with “Love’s Holding On” means approaching the first stunning highlight. Pell invited a guest for this song. It’s no less than Bonnie Tyler who agreed to do a gorgeous duet with Johnny Gioeli. This song is the first single and it’s a great choice. These voices are in perfect harmony, making the tune to a great opener. After such an impressive beginning it’s “I See Fire” that’s next. No guests are included but it’s a cover version. And to our surprise it’s a song from shooting star Ed Sheeran that became a new outfit. The tune is rearranged and fits perfect to Axel Rudi Pell’s sound.
To round off a great start into the album means also mentioning “On the Edge of Our Time”. Like the first double header also this tune is a new one. It’s a typical power ballad that comes with a lot of feel. I must say that the song doesn’t bring a lot of new to the table, but in the end it’s a well-done ballad of which a lot of other bands only could dream of.
The next songs are better known since they have been released on regular studio albums. However, the fact that tunes like “When Truth Hurts” and especially “Hey Hey My My”, originally by Neil Young, are excellent ballads makes this album still to an entertaining experience that acts as a silent counterpart to the hectic daily life.
The Grand Finale is getting closer and its two live songs that finishes the album. “The Line” from the 2000 release “The Masquerade” is the first one, followed by a superb 14 minutes version of Deep Purple’s “Mistreated” that was recorded at Bang Your Head in 2014 with Doogie White on vocals.
It’s up to you to decide if you like these kind of releases. My conclusion is, that “The Ballads V” is closer to a new ARP album than being a simple compilation of known stuff. I like the album that still includes enough rock feel for having a good time.
- Love’s Holding On
- I See Fire
- On the Edge of Our Time
- Hey Hey My My
- Lived Our Lives Before
- When Truth Hurts
- Forever Free
- Lost in Love
- The Line
Genre: Classic Rock
Release Date EU: April 21st, 2017