Released: 2012, AFM
I believe for the most part, fans generally tend to mentally assign a lower value to compilations, live albums, Greatest Hits packages, EP’s, Covers albums, remakes albums, etc…than new, full-length, studio albums with all new material. At times it seems like an extra effort to write a review of a compilation album, knowing that there may be limited interest. However that is one of the reasons why I do spend a bit more time and energy on these reviews and try to be a bit more analytical for the fan that really wants to know if this kind of compilation album is worth his or her hard-earned dollar.
There are the (roughly) three types of fans as I’ve said before. The die-hards and collectors who will instantly buy a compilation, (even if they have all the material), secondly, the fan who may not have every variation of the bands regular catalogue but is discerning and may want to pass based on the strength of the extra, rare or unreleased material and lastly, those fans who don’t really own much of the studio output and want to explore the catalogue and need a good place to start. I’m very pleased to suggest that CELEBRATOR will appeal to all the three main type of fans of U.D.O. in this case, with a few minor, nagging problems.
Let’s get the flaws out of the way first. This is not really a comprehensive career overview. Don’t get me wrong it’s still very cool but the first five albums and HOLY are completely unrepresented. That’s basically half of his entire 13-album catalogue! That is one of the obvious downsides to label specific compilations. Any song that the current label doesn’t have the rights to, gets left out. Happens all the time. That’s why so few compilations are truly career-spanning and definitive because most bands change record labels at some point in their career, (or their old label gets bought) and the new guys want to charge an arm and a leg for the band to use their own songs. Tis the nature of the beast.
Technically, there is very little unreleased material. If you are a die-hard U.D.O. fan who buys all the imports and singles, then you already likely own most of the 25 cuts here. There are only three new unreleased studio tracks. They are ‘Tallyman’, ‘The Silencer’ and ‘Artificialized’. However three new songs on a cool comp is enough incentive to buy it. If you are like me and just buy the U.D.O. studio albums and not the Japanese versions and EP’s and stuff, then this has a TON of cool rare material, at least 16 tracks I’ve never heard before.
I also have an issue with remixes. Remixes? Really? With studio technology these days these songs don’t really need remixing. The songs are not, for the most part, are not significantly different or improved. I’ve always felt remixes of songs only a few years old is scraping the bottom of the barrel. You really have to be an audiophile to appreciate the subtle differences.
On the plus side of the equation, there are various singles, Japanese bonus tracks, all sorts of cool material to enjoy. What struck me as especially interesting the number of duets on this album. For a guy (Udo) who is not really known for his singing, he has duets with Doro, Hammerfall, Lordi, and Raven! The last three bands all appear on CELEBRATOR and that is cool, because you will rarely (if ever!) see other bands on someone else’s album. It shows a lack of ego on Udo’s part and he helps (and is helped by) his friends in the Metal community. But here the songs are and I’m glad, even though I had all three songs when I bought those albums by those artists that Udo had made an appearance on.
So technical specifications aside, as a fan this is a truly wonderful collection of rarities. I loved the piano version of ‘Balls To The Wall’. It was nice to see the inclusion of ‘XTC’, a bizarre situation in which U.D.O. covered an Accept song from the David Resse era that appeared on an Accept Tribute album, some years back. All of these interesting bits and pieces, primarily from the last decade of their career, have been loving compiled in a reverse chronological order finishing with the uber-over-the-top version of Steppenwolf’s ‘Born To Be Wild by Raven with Udo on guest vocals!
Aside from my few minor technical complaints, CELEBRATOR is a fantastic addition to the catalogue of U.D.O. The three new songs are all great, U.D.O. tunes that could have easily fit on the albums of the sessions they were recorded for. The rare stuff is the icing on the cake of this celebration of true Germanic Metal.