ACCEPT: THE FINAL CHAPTER (1997/1998)
1) Starlight; 2) London Leatherboys; 3) I Don't Wanna Be Like You; 4) Breaker; 5) Slaves To Metal; 6) Princess Of The Dawn; 7) Restless And Wild; 8) Son Of A Bitch; 9) This One's For You; 10) Bulletproof; 11) Too High To Get It Right; 12) Metal Heart; 13) Fast As A Shark; 14) Balls To The Wall; 15) What Else; 16) Sodom & Gomorra; 17) The Beast Inside; 18) Bad Habits Die Hard; 19) Stone Evil; 20) Death Row.
Another live album, originally released as All Areas — Worldwide with 14 tracks; once it became known that, disappointed with the way Predator came out, the band finally decided to drop the line, it was hastily renamed The Final Chapter and re-released with 6 more tracks slapped on from the Death Row tour (the other 14 were from the Objection Overruled one).
This one is strictly for the fans, though; Accept live are only desirable when they're able to bare all of their teeth without the risk of exposing yellow decay or an occasional black hole or two, and while I cannot find any such flaws in Staying A Life (apart from its ungrammatical title), these late-period concerts show just enough wear to become somewhat expendable. No hard feelings — nobody is getting younger, except for those who were born old, like Neil Young — but no significant desire to revisit this particular record ever again.
For one thing, you will frequently hear how time has miraculously spared Udo's voice, but that is not entirely true: it is fairly obvious that he can't hit those shrill high notes any longer already on the opening track — he roars the chorus to 'Starlight' instead of wailing it, which makes the song so much more ordinary. Chunks of 'Fast As A Shark', 'Metal Heart', and 'Son Of A Bitch' are also botched, not fatally, but enough to eliminate the possibility of these versions ever becoming as much loved as the originals. In fact, he seems more confident when singing new material now, either from being somewhat bored with the oldies or simply because the new songs are better suited for his diminished vocal power. (But do not get me wrong: the basic strength of his delivery has not, indeed, suffered one bit).
For another thing, all the tracks here fall into two categories: note-for-note recreations of the studio recordings (particularly the new material from Death Row, where the only difference is lack of excessive studio processing) or slightly re-arranged — almost always for the worst — oldies. The hardest blow has been dealt in the direction of 'Princess Of The Dawn', whose magnificent riff is simply GONE, replaced by a bunch of boring power chords. I don't get the joke. I don't understand the necessity of inserting a bass solo in it either (the extra two bars of bass intro to 'London Leatherboys' were quite enough). Another unpleasant moment is dropping the obligatory "audience participation" bit on the 'Für Elise' instrumental passage in 'Metal Heart'; I do not share the feeling that getting a metalhead audience to chant Beethoven in a crowded stadium is either educational or amusing. But that's personal preference, of course.
Still, it's a decent enough document, and a decent enough performance selection; I can't deny having had the usual headbanging fun listening to it, and it's only at the dire insistence of the brain department that I'm giving it a thumbs down. A must have for fans, though, even if I'm pretty sure there are more convincing bootleg recordings from those tours available for their pleasure. These official «highlight selections» frequently have a reputation of having been selected by industry people born with cotton wads in their ears.