Axel Rudi Pell has had four solo albums so a live album was long over due. As a result, during two shows on February 4th & 5th of 1995, they were recorded so a live album could be released. They were recorded in Markthalle, Hamburg and Zeche, Bochum. There were three songs from the Markthalle show and five from Zeche. The band was of course Axel Rudi Pell on guitar, Jeff Scott Soto on vocals, Jorg Michael on drums, Volker Krawczak on bass and Julie Greaux on keyboards. It was the same band that recorded the previous album ‘Between the Walls’ for which they were now touring for that album, and it is a great, solid band.
1994 was an extremely busy year for Jeff Scott Soto and by the looks of it, 1995 was not going to be any different as we have 3 releases for this year and this being the first. For this album, Jeff felt the biggest fault was it was too short and he would’ve liked to have included a few more of the older tracks. With that being said, if that is the only fault, then we are in for a real treat. The show captures how much Jeff enjoyed working with Axel and it shows in his performance and everyone’s performance for that matter. The album came out around May 22, 1995 and is a great time capsule of a great period of Axel Rudi Pell.
The show kicks off with some riffing by Axel and then they go straight in to “Talk of The Guns” off their most recent album ‘Between the Walls’. Here is the song is sped up even faster and a lot heavier. It seems faster than speed metal here. The drums are pounding and relentless and Pell’s solo is pure Axel. Jeff does a great job keeping up with that pace and not losing his breath, but it was close.
While Jeff Scott Soto was touring with Talisman in Europe, Axel Rudi Pell was ready to make another album. After the mixed reaction from the fans on ‘The Ballad’ album, Axel was going to go to his roots and make a pure metal album…a German Metal Album as he has stated. He contacted Jeff and arranged for him to come in and work on the album while his other band was touring. Jeff was happy to do so as he really enjoyed working with Axel since it wasn’t a dictatorship like other bands he had worked in. Jeff and Axel work well together and Soto co-wrote 4 of the 10 tracks.
Most of the band was back from the last studio album, ‘Eternal Prisoner’. There was obviously Axel and Jeff, but Jorg Michael was back on drums and Volker Krawczak on bass. Keyboardist Kai Raglewski was out and in his place was Julie Greaux who has worked with Billy Idol and happened to be Soto’s girlfriend. That’s convenient wouldn’t you say!! What I would say is that this was a solid line-up and had me interested to hear what they had put together this time around. It is definitely more fantasy and mystical lyrics and it is truly metal for sure! One more thing, in the liner notes, it lists out what instrument each band member plays with and for Jeff…it says he plays with Julie….”Oh Heffe, Oh Oh Ooh”…Let me just say…Wow!! Okay, hold on tight and let’s get to the music.
After Jeff Scott Soto had finished his vocals on the ‘Eternal Prisoner’ album for Axel Rudi Pell, he went back to the states to continue to work with his band Slam. Then it was on to work on the next Talisman album ‘Genesis’. But his obligations weren’t done with Axel. Axel wanted to do an album full of nothing but ballads so Jeff was brought back in April 1993 to finish up some work on several songs to be included on the album. Jeff was only on 4 of the 10 songs, two were instrumentals, two from Rob Rock with one from Karl Holthaus both previous singers of Axel’s.
The album was released on September 7, 1993 and I guess it was successful as Axel did a total of five of these Ballad compilations. ‘The Ballads’ release had a mixture of previously released tracks, some previously unreleased tracks and even a couple covers. It is a lot of ballads to have on an album. It caused a mixture of reactions. Some metal fans were turned off because the album was nothing but ballads, however, you had a section of non-metal people that were now introduced to Axel’s music because it was all ballads. Heck it was the ballads that probably brought a lot of women in to the Glam music scene anyway…that and the fact they wanted to know the secrets on how the guys got their hair so big and poofy. But lets talk about the music instead of the hair.
“You Want Love” opens the album and was one of the new tracks recorded by Jeff Scott Soto for this release. Opens with acoustic guitars and then Soto comes in singing in a soft falsetto. The chorus brings harmonies and the bass and drum. From here on out, the tempo stays relatively consistent. Jeff does sound great, I’ll give him that, but the song is a little dull as it is too same-same sounding throughout. Even the solo is a little lifeless and boring.
During 1991, Axel Rudi Pell wanted to go out and do some live shows for his most recent album, ‘Nasty Reputation’. There was only one problem. His lead singer, Rob Rock, left the band. That does cause a problem not having a singer. Axel started searching and one name was thrown out to him and that was Jeff Scott Soto. When Jeff found out that he could sing with a former guitar player from the band Steeler, he thought he was having de ja vu! Didn’t he just sing in a band with former Steeler guitar player…oh yeah…Yngwie Malmsteen. Soto couldn’t pass that up so he did it. He also couldn’t pass it up because his band, Slam, he was working with at the time hadn’t completely got off the ground so off he went.
After the tour, Jeff went on his way back to the Slam. That was until a short time later, Jeff got another call from Axel Rudi Pell. Axel was so impressed with Live Singer Jeff, why not have Jeff sing on his new album. Since Jeff really enjoyed working with Axel, why not and off he went. The result of that collaboration was the album ‘Eternal Prisoner’. Soto did more than just sing for Pell, he also co-wrote 6 of the 9 songs on the album. Along with Kai Raglewski on Keyboards, Volker Krawczak on Bass and Jorg Michael on Drums, the album was recorded at RA.SH Studio in Germany from June to September 1992. After a quick turnaround, the album saw the light of day on October 1, 1992.
We might be in the year 1992, but musically the music is still drenched in the 80’s rock and metal sound. If you like Black Sabbath, maybe some Deep Purple with a dash of Aerosmith and AC/DC there is going to be something on here you like. Axel is also a huge fan of Dio and Richie Blackmore and that influence is seeping from all corners of this album. Throw in the powerhouse vocals of Jeff Scott Soto and you have the making a damn fine album…but is it? That is what we are here to find out so turn it on, turn it up and I can’t think of of another turn it statement…oh well…on to the music.