• Not exactly a fan-friendly compilation - A review of Axel Rudi Pell's "The Ballads V"

    Axel Rudi Pell - The Ballads V (2017)

    It's quite surprising that there seems to be a quite big audience for rock and metal ballads. This is already Axel Rudi Pell's fifth compilation of ballads. Personally, I find this type of compilation rather limited and repetitive but it seems to be commercially successful.

    This record presents five ballads from the last three studio records, including the soulful cover of Neil Young's "Hey Hey My My''. The live version of Deep Purple's "Mistreated" is taken from Axel Rudi Pell's anniversary concert, released under the title Magic Moments. The other four songs are exclusive to this release and include an emotional live performance of the band's own epic power ballad ''The Line", another cover song in form of Ed Sheeran's "I See Fire" and two actual new compositions. This selection makes it obvious to me that this compilation has been made for occasional fans who haven't purchased any of the last three studio albums or the recent live record. The fact that this record includes three cover song seems to indicate that Axel Rudi Pell tries to attract a larger audience that isn't necessarily familiar with the band but that might check this album out because famous artists and bands such as Deep Purple and Neil Young have been covered here. The namedropping even goes further since famous Welsh country, pop and rock singer Bonnie Tyler is featured in the opening "Love's Holding On". This kind of marketing is clever and makes it obvious why Axel Rudi Pell's concept of ballad compilations seems to work. 

    For a real fan though, this release is like a slap in the face. Paying twenty bucks for two new recordings, one new cover song and one new live track is unacceptable. If Axel Rudi Pell were fair with his fans, he should include the two new recording on an upcoming regular studio album. However, this hasn't been practiced in the past since these compilations have always included some exclusive tracks. This probably means that fans either have to pay a quite steep price here or should download the few songs they are actually interested in once again. Both choices are far from being perfect in my book.

    To be fair, the two new songs are actually really strong. Especially the collaboration with Bonnie Tyler in form of ''Love's Holding On'' is absolutely outstanding. Her husky voice fits perfectly to the melancholic melodies and complements Johnny Gioeli's powerful performance. This track is easily better than anything on Axel Rudi Pell's last regular studio album Game of Sins. In addition to this, the cover artwork really strikes a chord with me. As usual, the stunning cover artwork as well as a band photo are included as a two-sided poster with this release.

    A few days ago, I have seen the new record at a second-hand shop for eight bucks. I hesitated to buy the compilation and decided to think about it for a couple of days. If the record is still there when I'm coming back to this shop later this week, I will pick this compilation up because of the great opening song and the stunning artwork. Eight bucks is a reasonable price for such a release but paying the regular full price is a rip-off for regular fans.

    Final rating: 50%

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