An above average covers album that's quite varied
Cover albums no longer seem all that unique of late, but rather the norm with releases from Tesla, Aerosmith, Poison, Queensrÿche, Def Leppard, Shaw/Blades and L.A. Guns all paying tribute to the artists that helped influence them in their formative years. And the latest artist to tip his hat to the greats is former Steeler guitarist Axel Rudi Pell. As little as twelve months since the release of his last album Mystica, Pell (And his band, who comprise of Hardline vocalist Johnny Gioeli, ex-Steeler bassist Volker Krawczak, keyboardist Ferdy Doernberg and ex-Rage/Savage Circus/Masterplan/Razorback drummer Mike Terrana) is back with his twelfth studio effort Diamonds Unlocked, and the results are surprising good for the most part.
Unlike a lot of cover albums on the market, the German guitarist has chosen an eclectic bunch of tunes to cover, ranging from pop artists right through to hard rock acts.
Pell opens up the album with his own instrumental composition The Diamond Overture. Running for just under the two minute bracket, the song doesn't linger around long enough to outstay its welcome, but just long enough to add an air of class to start the album off. The first song to be given a run through is Riot's Warrior. Full of energy and speed, both Pell's guitar work and Gioeli's vocals really excel here, giving the album an impeccable start. The second track is somewhat of a curve ball, with Pell and the band offering a beefed up rendition of U2's Beautiful Day. Although little has been changed much from the original, Pell adds a little accent and weight on the guitars, which transforms the song into something a little harder edged and appealing.
Another interesting cut appears in Stone. Written by Chris Rea, and made popular by Paul Rodgers (In his short lived venture with The Law), the combined power of Pell's tasteful lead work and Gioeli soulful vocals works every bit as perfect of Rodgers own reworking. Kiss' Love Gun is given a complete overhaul in the slower acoustic format, with mixed results, but it certainly fares better than the misguided cover of Phil Collin's In The Air Tonight, where all the desperation and mystery is stripped away with the band's over the top (And overly long) makeover. Michael Bolton's Fools Game, much like the U2 track earlier in the album, is given an injection of heavier rock guitars with great success, while Free's bluesy Heartbreaker and Montrose's classic Rock The Nation keep the rock ever flowing. Finishing up the album is a slick/solid melodic reworking of The Mission's Like A Child Again, and a somewhat standard run through of The Who's classic Won't Get Fooled Again.
Diamonds Unlocked is hardly what you would call a classic in its own right, but I seriously doubt that's what Pell was aiming for. It's a covers album after all! And although not quite in the same league as Tesla's recent Real To Reel effort, it's a fun listen nonetheless.