Axel Rudi Pell

Knights Live

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Why is it that when Axel Rudi Pell plays live, his act is more reminiscent of Ronnie James Dio with an amazing guitar player than it is the generic brand of heavy metal he is usually associated with? Knights Live, despite it's sometimes ridiculous stage banter -- that recalls the excesses of Ted Nugent's vocalist Derek St. Holmes in the 1970s -- offers a completely unadorned, unvarnished concert recording. This thing kicks ass. Forget Yngwie, Pell's brand of tough, overdriven , balls-out rock is exactly what the heavy genre needs infused into its veins. There is no pose, no image, no sword-and-sorcery nonsense -- despite the title and the cover -- to make it precious. Instead, there is nothing but the desire to offer a no-net performance of tracks from all of his solo albums to create an atmosphere of seeming danger and amicable hedonism. Pell can play; he is more than a virtuoso, he is an encyclopedia of hard rock guitar history, and his expression of it is tasteful and gutsy. This set is a fantastic introduction to a true stylist and a rock & roll-never-say-die warrior.

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