ACCEPT - Accept, I'm A Rebel, Breaker, Restless And Wild (Platinum Editions)
June 1, 2017, a year ago
Like me, most dedicated Accept fanatics will already possess at least two previous CD copies of these Platinum Edition reissues, capturing the initial four outings by the (then) German outfit. While all the principles (aside from former singer Udo Dirkschneider) now reside in the USA, this foursome are on the shelves without their consent/blessing. Seems Universal (in Europe) owns the old material and as such contacted Dirkschneider to help with this current cache. Thus he offers his take on the band history (at the conclusion of '79 debut) and put one or two live renditions, from HIS band (!) Dirkschneider, on the other three. The lyrics are included in each CD booklet and the debut contains old black & white candid/live photos. The others include a separate, one page flyer with the singer's short (Wikipedia style) synopsis of the times surrounding the album. In the Breaker booklet, there's a neat center spread, the band with Judas Priest on their '81 UK tour, Udo and KK Downing sporting the same shaggy blonde hairdo! While Restless & Wild features the most copious liner notes (and color photos!), it only focuses on two songs: “Princess Of The Dawn” and (thankfully) “Fast As A Shark”.
The eponymous debut is devoid of any “classic” Accept material (to all but the most devoted fans) and will be an eye opener for North Americans only familiar with Balls To The Wall or Metal Heart. Much more of a ‘70s hard rock album, heavily influenced by countrymen The Scorpions (see “Free Me Now” and echoing, Peter Baltes sung “Sounds Of War”). The bassist also handles lead vocals on the touching “Seawinds”, B-side of first/only single “Lady Lou”. Both are the most original and highest profile tunes when Accept (the album) is discussed. In terms of the metallic juggernaut that would eventually arise, only “Helldriver”, with its Uli Jon Roth inspired guitar, and closing cowbell laden “Street Fighter” offer the slightest glimmer. (Rating: 7)
Although I'm A Rebel spawned the simple, punchy (almost punk) title track (originally written for AC/DC), which has appeared in both the singer's solo and resurrected band sets in recent times, it's predominately known for the make-up and glam outfitted back cover photo. It marks the first (if mostly forgettable) recording of the classic Dirkschneider-Wolf Hoffmann-Baltes-Jorg Fischer-Stefan Kauffmann line-up, the drummer joining right before the debut was released. Aurally, it was a failed attempt at more commercial endeavors, after the first record didn't garner the desired results. The aforementioned song opens the disc, nearly four minutes solely comprised of the gang vocal repeated titular phrase. “Save Us” features some falsetto backing vocals, come the chorus. Baltes sings the ballad “No Time To Lose” and personal favorite, acoustic tinged ballad, “The King”, although neither are really rock songs, let alone metal. “China Lady” saw a couple of spins on my college radio DJ turntables, but not much else. Certainly not the syncopated disco of “I Wanna Be No Hero”, a rip-off of Kiss' “I Was Made For Loving You”, with barely audible guitars. (Rating: 6)
Apart from completest fans, most Accept collections begin with Breaker, the first real representation of the band we all love. As such, almost every one of these ten tracks continues to rotate in/out of U.D.O. And Accept live setlists. Not sure when it was written (in terms of material for this disc), but the title track, up second in the running order, hits on the hallmarks of what would be the Accept sound for decades: pummeling drums, guitar interplay and throbbing bass, top with gravel throat, even if the lyrics might be nonsensical (try writing/rhyming in a foreign tongue). The mellow “Can't Stand The Night” ballad (in tradition of “Seawinds” or “The King”) probably shouldn't be in the hands (scratchy vocal cords) of Udo. Back in the day, the radio station had an edited version to “Son Of A Bitch”, the multiple profanity laced run (directed at label interference) electronically rendered indecipherable. Why is it the first words learned in a new language are always the curses? With the recent passing of Chuck Berry, “Burning” takes on an added sense, essentially a super-charged 50s rocker. A gritty, rock hard “Feelings” is anything but touchy-feelly. The first of the two midnight tunes: “Midnight Highway” (“Midnight Mover” appears on '85 Metal Heart) is another in-concert sing-along fave. Of the concluding pair, “Breaking Up Again” reprises the successful formula from the earlier album, Baltes singing an acoustic ballad, while I'd completely forgotten about the beer can opening “Down And Out” finale, until this latest listen. (Rating: 8.5)
Outside Germany, the English-speaking world learned of Accept, around the time of Restless And Wild, thanks to a cover story in Kerrang magazine. It's still my favorite of old albums (Blood Of The Nations and Balls To The Wall flip-flop in and out of second place). Like its follow-up, practically every track is held in the highest esteem. Regardless if this isn't the proto-thrash/speed metal milepost some make it out to be, still wild drumming and end-to-end guitar aggression, years before it was fashionable. The Tyrolean melody and scratched vinyl, to open “Fast As A Shark” (as well as the album) is but a warning! It's the first time Dirkschneider alone is behind the lead mic, having perfected his scraggly screaming, to maximum effect. Witness the title track. In case the Judas Priest influence seen elsewhere was missed, there's “Shake Your Head” and “Flash Rocking Man”, with Dirkschneider's fingernails on a chalkboard vocals. There's the prophetic “Ahead Of The Pack” and “Demon Night” before “Neon Nights” kicks off like it might be another of those old acoustic ballads, but then Hoffmann lays on that tugboat bellow of an open chord. No this will be something different, meandering throughout and speeding up, come the conclusion. More cowbell, “Don't Go Stealing My Soul Away” might be Udo's ham-fisted attempt at a power ballad, but it ends with the classic “Princess Of the Dawn”. If you don't own this album, can't be a true metalhead! Look back, but embrace the present. (Rating: 9.5)