Udo Dirkschneider is a legend; a true innovator who with Accept arguably invented speed Metal. When his day of judgement comes Udo's place at Metal's high table is pretty much guaranteed. In rock's grand parade, he has more than earned his place to the right of the line. U.D.O. the band is up there with likes of Maiden, Priest and Rammstein (and yes, Accept) as pioneers who make creating class Metal seem effortless.
'Celebrator' is the opening salvo of this year's celebrations that not only mark Dirkschneider's sixtieth birthday but also U.D.O.'s twenty fifth anniversary. It is an impressive collection of twenty five B sides, bonus tracks and lost gems spread across two discs.
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If you already know U.D.O. (and if not, why not?) then you will know what to expect. Well, almost. It is Teutonic Heavy Metal done the way it should be done; precision engineered to the highest quality achievable.
U.D.O. do not waste anything; the songs are snappy and never outstay their welcome, the music is constructed to such a high spec that even the high hat is never used when it is not needed and soloists always know when to shut the fuck up and never shred when the break can hang on one note. The riffs are focused steel tipped aural treasures and the production is always top notch.
U.D.O.'s sound is understandably rooted in Accept's past but its Metal has been refined to such a degree that when the band releases new material then it's time for the young pretenders to move over and let masters show them how it is done.
It's not all Metal though. With an orchestral version of 'Tears Of A Clown', 'Balls To The Wall' getting a new lease of life using just a piano and Udo's vocal and his duet with Doro on 'Dancing With An Angel' being about as close to a lighter wave as either of them get. Yet even here there is an effortless Germanic melancholy that the most dedicated Goth outfits fail to achieve with their big melodramatic symphonic productions.
Tell you what, here's the track list so you can see for yourself...
Track Details – CD 1.
01. Stormbreaker - Rev-Raptor Japanese bonus track
02. Tallyman - Taken from the Rev-Raptor recording sessions
03. Run! - Remix
04. Free Or Rebellion - Leatherhead single bonus track remix
05. Bleeding Heart - Leatherhead single bonus track
06. The Silencer - Taken from the Dominator recording sessions
07. Bodyworld - Infected single bonus track remix
08. Systematic Madness - Infected single bonus track remix
09. Head Over Heels - Hammerfall feat. Udo
10. Balls To The Wall - Piano Version
11. Artificialized - Taken from the Mastercutor recording sessions
12. They Only Come Out At Night - Lordi feat. Udo
13. Streets Of Sin - Wrong Side Of Midnight single bonus track remix
01. Tears Of A Clown - Orchestral version
02. Man A King Ruler - Mastercutor Japanese bonus track remix
03. Hardcore Lover - 24/7 single remix
04. Scream Killers – 24/7 single bonus track remix
05. Platchet Soldat - U.D.O. feat. Faktor2 remix
06. Borderline – Thunderball Japanese bonus track
07. Dancing With An Angel - U.D.O. feat. Doro remix
08. X-T-C - A Tribute To Accept Vol. 2 24/7 single remix
09. Azrael - No Limits remix
10. The Key - No Limits Japanese Bonus remix
11. Metal Gods - from A Tribute To Judas Priest
12. Born To Be Wild - Raven feat. Udo
As you can probably tell 'Celebrator' is an album primarily for U.D.O.'s fans because it gathers together stuff that casual Metal fans will neither know nor care about and so perhaps limiting the album's appeal a bit. As a jumping in point for the unacquainted this compilation works adequately but to be fair 'Dominator' or 'Rev-Raptor' would probably do a better job.
What it does do, however, is illustrate the depth and sweep of U.D.O.'s music and the band's ability to mix Heavy Metal with camp and caricature without the faintest whiff of parody. The high quality of even the three unreleased session tracks is such that U.D.O. completists are going to be wondering what else the band has squirreled away, and worse still, will know it to be nothing less than shit hot stuff.
Good as 'Celebrator' is however, there is a fucking great big fly in the ointment. This album is on Amazon UK as an import for £26.99 but on Amazon.com it is on, again as an import, for $14.66 Yankie. As of 16th April, $14.66 = £9.25 so how the fuck does that work then? No wonder people download illegally.
And why imports? Musically, this album is difficult to fault and under ordinary circumstances I would have no hesitation in recommending it. However, as a fully paid up card carrying member of the farty army, I cannot justifiably recommend to anyone a glorified 'best of...' album that costs nigh on thirty quid and I don't care how rare and obscure its contents are.
Down here in the hole, Udo is regarded as an all conquering hero and U.D.O. genuinely unbeatable. Yet, again it seems the money and middle men are taking the piss and look poised to fuck it all up.