Cover albums are a thing of their own. Either the covering bands are too close to the original and it gets boring or the originals are boring already or we’ve heard them far too often as Metal versions already. “Diamonds Unlocked” is different, being the first cover album of Axel Rudi Pell. So to say as a bridge to span the time until the next regular album Mr. Pell has recorded a bunch of covers songs, which surprisingly all are Rock or Pop, not a single sign of his idol Ritchie Blackmore.
And “Diamonds Unlocked” is especially good, because Axel Rudi Pell doesn’t just play them close to the original, but make the tracks pure ARP songs. Would you not know the tracks already, you would think that he wrote all of them himself. The best cuts are “Warrior“ (RIOT), the most Metallic song of the disc, “Beautiful Day“ (U2), which Johnny Gioeli absolutely nails, and the ballad “Like A Child Again“ by THE MISSION. He rebuilt KISS’ “Love Gun” into an acoustic ballad and it works, too, while Chris Rea’s “Stone” has turned into a really fat track. “In The Air Tonight” by Phil Collins takes a while to get used to and doesn’t fully reach the original, but Johnny once more salvages much. The other songs are rather average, which might also be due to the fact that I am not that familiar with the originals, they just won’t ignite with me (with the exception of THE WHO’s “Won’t Get Fooled Again”). I definitely want to commend Axel that he did not overload the songs with unnecessary solos, so that you can really enjoy the music itself. The sound is top notch and typically ARP. Even my girlfriend could say that the version was by ARP after the first few guitar notes, so you know what awaits you.
In my opinion “Diamonds Unlocked“ is not a must, as I don’t think that you have to have cover albums, but it still is one of the better ones of its kind and a nice change until ARP comes out with the next one. Listen and decide for yourself, it has my blessing.
(Online December 25, 2007)