CD Review: Accept / First Four Classic Albums
On April 14, 2017 AMF Records is going to reissue exclusive Digipak editions of the first four Accept albums, available in this format for the first time ever. “Accept” (1979), “I’m a Rebel” (1980), “Breaker” (1981) & “Restless and Wild” (1982). Three of these Platinum Editions including previously unreleased Live bonus tracks recorded on singer Udo Dirkschneider’s latest tour (which took place under the banner “Dirkschneider”). The only exception being the “Accept” album which comes with an audio-recorded interview of Udo Dirkschneider as bonus, in which “Mr. German Metal” tells the story of Accept’s early days and the band’s foundation. I’ve had a chance to listen to all four albums & wanted to pass along some thoughts on each. For some of you it will be a chance to return to some gems from the past and for others possibly a new discovery on some material that you may have overlooked or have yet to add to your Metal collections.
Accept (1979) The one that started it all! No doubt being a hard rock German band starting out in the mid 70’s there wasn’t much in terms of contemporary bands to model oneself after, the Scorpions being the lone exception. For any band from Europe given that English is not your native language the biggest challenge that would have to be faced is by your vocalist and Udo Dirkschneider is no exception. What strikes me as unique immediately upon listening to this S/T release is the precise pronunciation of all of Udo’s vocals on this album. Not a lot of the trademark screams that all Accept fans are used to now but more two-part harmonies such as found on “Free Me Now” which sounds a lot like a German sing-a-long with long stretches of humming. Also, bassist Peter Baltes sings lead on two tracks “Seawinds” and “Sounds of War”. Guitarist Wolf Hoffman has his shining moments on this release as well with some great intro parts on songs like “Glad to Be Alone’ and “Helldriver” and heavier riffs found on” Lady Lou” and ‘Street Fighter”. All in all, an enjoyable album to revisit with a lot of different styles and a band clearly searching for an identity.
I’m A Rebel (1980) The follow-up record to their debut the title track “I’m a Rebel’ sounds a lot like classic AC/DC, with good reason. The song was written by George Alexander which is a pseudonym for Alex Young older brother to Angus and Malcolm Young. Producer Dirk Steffens thought the band needed a breakout hit and thought this could be it. We start to hear a lot of what became Udo’s style of vocals on such tracks as “Save Us” and ‘China Lady”. Once again, we have two tracks with lead vocals coming from Peter Baltes on “No Time to Lose” and “The King”. More commercial sounding than the S/T debut Accept is still searching for their signature sound. Bonus track is “I’m a Rebel” live from the recent Dirkschneider Roots tour.
Breaker (1981) The third album brings about some shift in the band’s direction both musically and lyrically. It appears that Accept were no longer willing to listen to musical insiders, producers and the press about how or what they should sound like or write about. Much angrier tone on “Breaker” with tracks like “Down and Out”, “Run If You Can”, “Burning” and “Son of a Bitch”. We do have Peter Baltes on lead vocals on only one track the ballad “Breaking Up Again” which also features some interesting acoustic guitar parts from Wolf. The stand track for me is “Midnight Highway” which is very commercial sounding and should have been a bigger hit than it was. As an added plus for Accept fans Michael Wagner handled the engineering duties on “Breaker” which gives the sound an extra edge. Bonus track is a live version “Midnight Highway”.
Restless and Wild (1982) The fourth album defines more of the standard Accept sound, starting out with what’s considered one of the first-speed metal tracks ever recorded with “Fast as A Shark”. Udo handles all lead vocals on this one and we get some heavy Udo trademark shrills on tracks such as “Restless and Wild”, “Flash Rockin Man” and “Don’t Go Stealing My Soul Away”. Wolf really shines on “Princess of the Dawn” with some of his best guitar work found on any Accept album. Accept were not afraid to try anything by this point and this fourth record shows a maturity and growth that led to them becoming one of the top metal acts of the 80’s. The current version of Accept performed the album in its entirety in 2011 at a special in Switzerland. Bonus tracks include live versions of “Flash Rockin Man” and “Neon Nights”.
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