A present-oriented reminiscence unfolds.
Given it’s more than 50 year history, it could be rightly stipulated that heavy metal is entering its golden years, at least in a manner analogous to the experience that an individual tends to gain with the passage of a comparable amount of time. In the case of one of its earliest and favorite German sons Udo Dirkschneider, whose reputation either as the front man of Accept or under various projects bearing his name is beyond reproach, the entry into his 70s has found him recounting his roots as an artist, while simultaneously affixing his creative efforts in the present. As such, the eventuality of taking the occasion to field an album of reworked covers from artists that inspired his highly unique and iconic stage persona would almost seem a foregone conclusion, though the final product itself is by no means a typical affair, but rather one of the most highly diverse portfolios of influences to be adapted into a stylistically unified LP.
In most respects, My Way is an album that could easily pass for one of Dirkschneider’s releases under the U.D.O. moniker, and in the rest it could comfortably fit into his more rock-oriented side-project Dirkschneider & The Old Gang. Yet this proves to be a surprising feat given that the songs chosen for this massive tribute to the past run the gamut of just about every unique stylistic niche within the rock spectrum from the late 60s psychedelic era up to the early 80s, with a final offering that reaches back prior to rock’s own existence no less. The list of instrumentalists tapped for this effort include some familiar faces for those familiar with Udo’s extensive career, with his son Sven handling the drums, along with ex-Accept bassist Peter Baltes and former U.D.O. guitarist Stefan Kaufmann being listed as primary members. To say that no slouches are to be found among this crowd, or that the support team from the newly formed Atomic Fire Records oversaw a highly involved project would be an understatement, but ultimately the voice at the fore commands the lion’s share of the glory wherein the album in question is concerned.
In essence, Udo does not merely take ownership of these songs, but does so in such a convincing fashion that one not already familiar with them would mistake this for an original studio album. To be fair, the rendition of noted 70s rock epics such as opener and Alex Harvey Band classic “Faith Healer” and The Sweet’s “Hell Raiser” see only some minimal tweaks in the arrangement and some slight abridgement in the case of the former to fit into the Dirkschneider niche, while obvious cuts such as “Hell Bent For Leather” and “He’s A Woman, She’s A Man” only see significant alteration via his raw, Brian Johnson meets metal vocal approach. Further still, the rendition of Rainbow’s “Man On The Silver Mountain” proves more faithful to the original studio version in terms of both tempo and arrangement than most of the live versions put out by said band and subsequently by Dio. On the other hand, the take on The Rolling Stones’ “Paint It Black” sees a massive level of change in both feel and arrangement that goes beyond even W.A.S.P.’s rendition of the song and lands quite close to something from Accept’s mid-80s catalog, while Queen’s “We Will Rock You” has been fitted with a full metallic arrangement and scarcely sounds like the original apart from the vocal hook.
When all is said and done, Udo’s latest studio venture proves an exercise in consistency that will play very well to existing fans of his craft, barring a few rather blatant interludes into older and likely less familiar territory in a few cases. That being said, even the kicking horn section and bluesy acoustic guitar intro that kicks off this album’s take on Ike And Tina’s “They Call It Nutbush” carries a heavy metallic flavor, complete with dueling guitar solos after the Tipton and Downing formula that will no doubt endear it to the same crowd who would eat up the punchier rendition of Motorhead’s “No Class” and Uriah Heep’s “Sympathy” also found here. Even when the metal style is completely abandoned for the big band balladry of Frank Sinatra’s “My Way”, with Udo delivering one of his most squeaky clean vocal performances to boot, it wouldn’t be much of a stretch to see even the most rabid of metal consumers allow for a respite from all the riff-oriented carnage to hear a veteran of the art display his stylistic range. It’s a little different from what most have come to expect from the Dirkschneider name, but the way that all of these seemingly jumbled puzzle pieces are fitted together results in a clear picture that rocks as hard as any of U.D.O.’s past few albums.
Released By: Atomic Fire Records
Release Date: April 22nd, 2022
Genre: Heavy Metal
Order “My Way” HERE.
“My Way” track listing:
- Faith Healer (ALEX HARVEY)
- Fire (CRAZY WORLD OF ARTHUR BROWN)
- Sympathy (URIAH HEEP)
- They Call It Nutbush (TINA TURNER)
- Man On The Silver Mountain (RAINBOW)
- Hell Raiser (THE SWEET)
- No Class (MOTÖRHEAD)
- Rock And Roll (LED ZEPPELIN)
- The Stroke (BILLY SQUIER)
- Paint It Black (THE ROLLING STONES)
- He’s A Woman, She’s A Man (SCORPIONS)
- T.N.T. (AC/DC)
- Jealousy (FRANKIE MILLER)
- Hell Bent For Leather (JUDAS PRIEST)
- We Will Rock You (QUEEN)
- Kein Zurück (WOLFSHEIM)
- My Way (FRANK SINATRA)
Legendary front man of iconic German metal mainstays Accept turned solo artist Udo Dirkschneider reflects upon his past influences with a compilation of diverse cover songs from across the rock/metal spectrum and beyond, bringing new meaning to the concept of doing things one’s own way