The Final Countdown
Balls To the Wall
Now this is what I like to see: two reissues that look like someone actually gave a damn more than turning a profit. What we’ve got here are two additions to “The Metal Masters Series,” Europe’s The Final Countdown and Accept’s Balls To the Wall, two platters of non-underground ’80s metal that, for as exemplary as they are of their eras (’86 and ’83, respectively), stand up pretty well today. Everybody knows the skyward title track to The Final Countdown • I believe the Chicago Bulls came onto the court to the song during the Phil Jackson years • but the rest of the album is far, far from filler: From the headbang-away-into-the-night thrust of “Rock The Night” to the adrenalized up-tempo stomp of “Ninja” to, hell, the simpering power ballad “Carrie,” the album is a timeless display of prime Euro-metal • classy, arena-ready, slightly sophisticated, and wholly “European” (i.e., graceful) • before the idiom degenerated into Rhaspodian bombast, a “classic” in every sense of the word. The same can definitely be said for Balls To the Wall, but by nature, the album is a different beast altogether. Much of this can be chalked up to the supposedly “gay” slant of the record • or, for that matter, nearly all of Udo-era Accept • but as the liner notes reveal, the mysterious “Deaffy,” who was their primary lyricist, was none other than their female manager, Gaby Hauke • now talk about straying from the metal norm! Curious lyrics they may be, the music here speaks even louder: Rough around the edges, vaguely blue-collar, but executed with both a cool precision and a burning intensity, otherworldly melodrama (again, vague) lurking just around the corner, Accept were a lofty proposition of seemingly no-frills metal back then, especially with Herr Udo belting out his best Bon Scott impersonation, the album secondmost in importance to predecessor Restless And Wild (proto-speed metal title track and all). So, couple the above contents with a copious amount of live/promo photos, a pair of bonus live tracks, full lyric sheets, (slightly) beefed-up sound compared to the original vinyl, and exhaustive, compellingly enjoyable liner notes (the ever-astute Don Kaye does a remarkable contextual job with Accept’s, whereas Diarmuid Quinn focuses more on Europe’s commercial success than context), and you’ve got a project that was lovingly undertaken and affectionately rendered. But, hey • I hear metal’s “making a comeback,” so perhaps there was cash in the label conglomerate’s eyes, dunno.
Sony Music, 550 Madison Ave., New York, NY 10022-3211; http://www.legacyrecordings.com/listen, http://www.sonymusic.com