German hard rock guitar wizard AXEL RUDI PELL has finished recording and mixing his latest album “Diamonds Unlocked II”, set for release on July 30th 2021 on Steamhammer/SPV.
The successor to last year’s top 5 album “Sign of The Times” is the follow-up to his 2007 cover recording “Diamonds Unlocked”. Pell’s carefully considered decision not to release brand-new material for the first time in almost 15 years is mainly based on the ongoing pandemic and current restrictions on live concerts.
The 61-year-old explains that “it makes no sense at all to put out new songs that we will not be able to perform live.” But fans desperately waiting for a new studio album will have to acknowledge that this kind of solution is a pretty good one indeed! PELL had been flirting with the concept of “Diamonds Unlocked II” for two or three years, and he’s also aware of the vast number of cover versions currently floating on the Internet, which he sees as a challenge.
Of course, it depends on the selection and variety of the material, but first and foremost it is the transformation of each individual track that matters. The result is so outstanding that PELL is justly proud of his latest offering. “Without patting myself on the back too loudly – this is an album worth listening to from start to finish.
Instead of delivering every single note so that it sounds exactly like the original, a cover album should, above all, be fun. And entertain and inspire the listener, an audio algorithm which makes you get out the original versions or the whole back catalogue of the artists presented. In this respect, “Diamonds Unlocked II” is an offer that no self-respecting hard rock fan can refuse.
It all starts with the only original composition on the recording, a typical ARP intro entitled “Der Schwarze Abt”. “I like intros which prepare you for the atmosphere of the songs that follow.” Setting the tone is a blistering version of Sammy Hagar’s “There’s Only One Way To Rock” (1982), “a perfect song” where PELL uses Van Halen’s live version during the solo, playing both Eddie Van Halen and Sammy Hagar’s solos but in his own style.
His admiration of another guitar hero, namely Ritchie Blackmore, is no secret, so what we get is one of the most underrated tunes from the Ronnie James Dio-fronted Rainbow line-up: “Lady Of The Lake” from the “Long Live Rock’n’Roll” album (1978). “Rainbow never played that song live, for whatever reason.
We chose the demo version from the deluxe edition and added some typical ARP bits.” Then ARP goes on to surprise his fans with a great version of Paul Anka’s “She’s A Lady” (best-known in Tom Jones’s version from in the 1970s). The two Americans in the band, singer Johnny Gioeli and drummer Bobby Rondinelli, have become huge fans of the ballad, which has evolved into a straightforward rock number, although they were admittedly a little sceptical in the beginning.
And then back to the 1970s again with Geordie’s semi-hit “Black Cat Woman” (1973), brilliantly redone with plenty of new verve and combined with Brian Johnson‘s rerecording from 1989. Tony Carey, one of Rainbow’s former keyboardists (and a friend of Axel’s), had a huge hit in Germany in 1988 with his classic soundtrack ballad “Room With A View”, which PELL has now adopted as if it was one of his own compositions.
Same thing with Chris Norman’s hit “Sarah (You Take My Breath Away)”, first out in 1987: PELL has charted new territories, putting in fewer keyboards and more ARP drive. One of the biggest surprises is without a doubt “Rock N’ Roll Queen” by British indie rock band The Subways (2005), a number you wouldn’t expect to find on an ARP record. “I’ve always liked the song and happened to hear it on TV a few weeks back.
We reduced the punk attitude a bit and turned it into a heavy rock anthem.” There are plenty of versions of the Rolling Stones classic “Paint It Black”, however none of them refers to Deep Purple’s 1993 live version, as performed during Blackmore’s final tour. “I needed to do this track in ARP style, so the Purple version fits perfectly.
I Put A Spell On You” (Screamin‘ Jay Hawkins, 1956) is the oldest number on the album, CCR’s version being the best-known adaptation. “It’s influenced me big-time. I added a solo which was inspired by late Free guitarist Paul Kossoff. It’s my favourite solo on this record.
One more highlight comes at the end: a stomping, thundering heavy rock adaption of the ABBA classic “Eagle”, which sees ARP in top form and leaves fans hankering for the next studio album featuring original material, scheduled for a release in spring 2022. We can’t wait!
Johnny Gioeli – Lead and Backing Vocals
Axel Rudi Pell – Lead, Rhythm and Acoustic Guitars
Ferdy Doernberg – Keyboards
Volker Krawczak – Bass
Bobby Rondinelli – Drums
01. Der Schwarze Abt (Intro) 2:03
02. There’s Only One Way To Rock – original by Sammy Hagar 4:26
03. Lady Of The Lake – original by Rainbow 5:17
04. She’s A Lady – original by Paul Anka 4:04
05. Black Cat Woman – original by Geordie 4:25
06. Room With A View – original by Tony Carey 4:12
07. Sarah (You Take My Breath Away) – original by Chris Norman 4:51
08. Rock N’ Roll Queen – original by The Subways 3:19
09. Paint It Black – original by The Rolling Stones 6:03
10. I Put A Spell On You – original by Screamin´Jay Hawkins 4:24
11. Eagle – original by Abba 6:53
Taken from the upcoming cover album “Diamonds Unlocked II” – out July 30th, 2021! Pre-Order Link: https://www.smarturl.it/ARPDiamondsUn…
Exclusive CD/LP bundle with a shirt only at the Steamhammer shop: https://shop.steamhammer.de/artists/a…