Axel Rudi Pell decided to go solo after the split of German rockers Steeler around 1988 / 89.
His solo band released their first album way back in 1989 and in total to date he has released fifteen – Yes, really! Where have you been people?! – A.R.P. studio releases, not to mention a few live albums along the way.
Clearly his popularity has its strongest foothold in his native Germany and perhaps here’s a little known fact that is why I am amazed that he has not had more success …
Jeff Scott Soto (Yngwie J. Malmsteen, Journey, Talisman, Soul SirkUS) sung on four of them, Charlie Huhn (Ted Nugent, Gary Moore, Foghat) sung on the first one, Rob Rock (Impellitteri, M.A.R.S., Avantasia, Warrior) sung on one and the excellent Johnny Gioeli (Hardline, Crush 40) has sung on the past eight studio releases and also features here.
Other band members have generally come and gone, with the exception of bassist Volker Krawczak who has been present on every A.R.P. release, also current drummer Mike Terrana has featured on the past seven releases and keyboard whizz, Ferdy Doernberg on the past eight studio albums.
Heck, it’s even similar to some of Europe’s early material too, but then Axel has been doing this for a while, so hardly surprising that listeners will pick up on other similarities too.
Mr. Pell, I will add though, does like to go off on some lengthy diversions on some tracks, but the wonderful thing about his playing, is that he is clearly a lover of hearing keys alongside guitar on a pretty even balance, sometimes a rare thing, but it does help you understand why the Blackmore / Malmsteen comparisons.
So, if you’re a classic / hard rock fan and aficionado of those acts, I have a feeling, you should be checking this guy’s material out!
I really am a newer fan of the guy, having heard the name for a number of years, but never – Foolishly! – having taken the time out myself to check him out until about three years back, having heard material from ‘The Crest’ and then the most recent studio album, ‘Circle of the Oath’ released in 2011 and reviewed on this site.
I think Jeff Scott Soto previous involvement is seriously, a little known fact, as whenever press releases for his material come out or any cross reference to his past works, sadly A.R.P. is rarely if ever mentioned and I am going to make it a priority to track copies of those releases down for sure!
‘Casbah’ next has that haunting mystical Rainbow like underlying Hammond sound as the song kicks in, then before too long Johnny gets the crowd involved singing the chorus, it’s getting there!
Mike Terrana then gets his solo spot and proves he’s no slouch, introduced by Johnny as ‘The animal, the beast … Mike Terrana!’This lasts for just over four minutes before Ferdi jumps in on keys, initially playing Offenback’s ‘The Can, Can!’ Funny!
Johnny Gioeli then talks about, ‘why can’t we do this while having some f**king fun!’
He does like to swear a bit, so if you’re easily offended, maybe you won’t appreciate that?
Johnny really has a Ronnie James Dio approach here, without a shadow of a doubt before the band take another diversion through Deep Purple’s ‘Mistreated,’ ironically a song Ritchie Blackmore carried over into his Rainbow band and this takes the song overall to just under the twelve minute mark, with some lengthy guitar interludes.
The CD set captures thirteen tracks in total, including the various tracks that capture some great medleys.
If you track yourself down the DVD, it’s a two DVD set, encompassing a massive twenty four tracks, an interview with Axel, the story of A.R.P. and bonus video clip of the song, ‘Hallelujah’ which I’m guessing is a new track, but the press release and even his website do not elude to this ..?
Anyway on with the details of CD two and before they get into the track Johnny talks to the crowd a little and this is where when he’s explaining that this band has been going on almost fourteen years together, he says, ‘Don‘t let me have to say that in German! My Deutsch is Scheiße!‘ Which raises some laughter from the crowd ... Going on to add‚ ‘Fourteen years and I can say, Hallo! Sorry!‘
Two very strong tracks with great hooks, although it’s kind of funny as one of the lines in ‘Nasty Reputation’ sings ‘Rock the Nation,’ so when they go off and the audience claps and cheers to bring them back, it’s interesting that they close with the encore ‘Rock the Nation.’