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Friday, August 21, 2009

Accept: Staying A Life


1) Metal Heart; 2) Breaker; 3) Screaming For A Love-Bite; 4) Up To The Limit; 5) Living For Tonite; 6) Princess Of The Dawn; 7) Guitar Solo; 8) Restless And Wild; 9) Son Of A Bitch; 10) London Leatherboys; 11) Love Child; 12) Flash Rockin' Man; 13) Dogs On Leads; 14) Fast As A Shark; 15) Balls To The Wall.

A slightly belated live album, recorded in Japan on the Metal Heart tour — although the belated­ness may have ultimately done the band a favour; since it was released almost at the same time as their wretched Udo-less dwarf of a studio effort, Eat The Heat, the world, and the band itself, were reminded of their former glory and splendor, and possibly contributed towards the success­ful reunion with Udo. (Empty, but realistic, speculation).

Anyway, Accept are one of those bands that have no serious need for a live album: it is hardly within human capacity to make their live show even more "restless and wild" than what they give out in the studio. You cannot play 'Fast As A Shark' faster than a shark, and if one of their songs on Metal Heart flashed the title 'Up To The Limit', you may be sure that so it was, and the limit is the limit. The primary meaning of a hard rock live album is that it cranks up the level of head­banging, usually at the expense of polish and "cleanness" of sound; but what good is a live album if it still sacrifices a bit of polish, but is unable to crank up the headbanging?

Well, except for the bare fact that any Accept recording in Accept's prime is worth listening to as such, Staying A Life has a few major and minor advantages. First, it functions well as a "best of" package — somewhat uncomfortably tilted towards Metal Heart, the weakest of their "immacu­late stretch" of records, but still touching on most of the major highlights of Breaker, Restless And Wild, and Balls To The Wall. Second, it'll be a special delight for Wolf Hoffmann fans, since the guy generally gets more time to stretch out (there is even a special four and a half mi­nute solo which, in a nice nod to the psychedelic tastes of the Sixties, incorporates the theme from 'Hall Of The Mountain King'). Third, 'Princess Of The Dawn' does not get cut off, but is played well to its logical end (some might prefer the odd studio ending, though).

Fourth, it is worth owning this recording if only for the small bit of audience participating at the beginning of 'Fast As A Shark', when Udo leads the crowd in a series of call-and-response vocals. Each "call" is longer and more complex than the previous one, but the Japanese crowd does not yield — doing its best to collectively emulate his war cries. Then he comes up with a particularly impressive ascending line, which no single living human being can emulate. The audience, how­ever, gives it their best, and is almost able to match it. But just as the people — I think — start sighing in relief, believing they were finally able to catch up with Udo at his most complex...

Oh well, looks like this review is getting too long anyway. The album obviously gets a thumbs up, but so would probably just about every Accept show from 1982 to 1986. The recommenda­tion, however, is not to use it as a greatest hits-type shortcut, because that way you will be mis­sing out on 'Burning', 'Starlight', 'Ahead Of The Pack', and lots of other classics. [Note: the album can also be found in a somewhat more rare, 2-CD, edition, which does have 'Burning' — exten­ded beyond need and inferior to the original — as well as a couple other songs.]

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