Released: 2002, SPV
Live albums usually don’t rate very high on my list of CDs that I want to continuously spin. If I can’t see the band live and in person I would much rather have a DVD where I can actually see the band perform their songs. I also hate the fact that most live CDs have so many overdubs that it is basically the same as listening to a studio disc anyway. That being said live CDs do have some merits. If the band has changed members it is always interesting to hear an updated take on an older song. Well new members is nothing new for Axel Rudi Pell. Since releasing his debut album in 1989 Pell is on his 4th vocalist, not mention the amount of band members that have come and gone. KNIGHTS LIVE is the second Axel Rudi Pell live release, the first being MADE IN GERMANY LIVE which was released in 1995. Since that disc Pell has released 5 albums of new material along with a couple of compilation type discs. The chief change in lineup from the previous live disc is at the vocalist position where Jeff Scott Soto has given way to Johnny Gioeli. Charlie Huhn, Rob Rock, Jeff Scott Soto and now Gioeli. Pell certainly knows his vocalists and has some greats as part of his band.
KNIGHTS LIVE is a 2 Cd set which contains 11 songs that span Pell’s solo career. Other band members joining Pell and Gioeli are Mike Teranna: drums, Volker Krawzcak: bass and Ferdy Doernberg: keys. The double live CD was recorded at Zeche Bochum, Germany on May 5, 2002. Disc 1 opens with “Edge of the World” , one of the better tracks from 2002s SHADOWZONE.
They follow that with a trip back to 1991 and the title track from NASTY REPUTATION. Here is one of the strong points of a live CD as the original was recorded by Rob Rock, one of the best vocalists in metal, and Gioeli gets a chance to put his own distinctive stamp on the song. Disc 1 ends with one of my favourite Axel Rudi Pell tracks “Fool Fool”, originally found on BLACK MOON PYRAMID (1996). Axel Rudi Pell and company have always been known for their excellent ballads and that fact has been born out by their very successful BALLADS I and II releases. On KNIGHT’S LIVE they stick to only one ballad. It is a doozie though with a running time of over 11 minutes. The track is “The Clown is Dead” and Pell shreds through this tune like there is no tomorrow. The CD closes with another classic Axel Rudi Pell track, “Warrior”.
In the grand history of live CDs, this is a pretty good one. The production still sounds live and not like the band went into the studio and recorded their songs and at the end tacked on some audience noise as an afterthought. While I can’t put this up there with the great live releases such as LIVE AFTER DEATH, ALIVE IN ATHENS or ALIVE II it is definitely better than many of the live CDs that have been thrown out as contractual obligations in the last number of years. One thing I would have liked to have seen done differently was the song selection. Maybe lose the songs like “Warrior” which already appeared on MADE IN GERMANY LIVE and add something like “Ride The Rainbow” or “Wanted Man”. Other than that there is little to complain about. If you are an Axel Rudi Pell fan this set belongs in your collection.