A thirteen-track compilation featuring six tracks from his last three albums – albums that were released, respectively, in 2020, 2021 and 2022 – it’s doubtful whether any but the most faithful fan of Axel Rudi Pell will be buying Ballads VI.

Says Herr Pell himself of his latest (doubtless chart-bound, in Germany at least) compilation: “Looking back, there is not a single ballad during the almost 35 years of my solo career that I need to be ashamed of, quite the contrary: some of them are still among my favourite songs today. At the same time, however, I have evolved as a composer. All that experience means you automatically become more mature and accomplished, a fact that The Ballads VI undoubtedly shows”.

Of course, any man with six full-length albums full of ballads would consider them a viable option, but do they make a pleasant listening proposition? That’s a good question. Vocalist Johnny Gioeli isn’t possessed of a particularly smooth voice, but he does impart enough emotion into his lines to make them more than just mere vacuous mouthings. His vocal on the band’s against-the-odds victory against the Kansas classic Dust In The Wind is particularly effective, but it is perhaps telling that the best track here is a newie – and it’s an instrumental. Hidden Secrets is the track and it finds Pell and his band firing on all cylinders to deliver a tasteful piece of word-free hard rock.

Talking of covers, there are five of the blighters here, which may also seem a little rich considering ARP released a covers album as recently as 2021. I guess it was only a matter of time before recycling became a thing in heavy metal just as it is in all other walks of life…

All that said, Gone With The Wind – the best track on last year’s Lost XXIII – is still a great track. worthy of shelf space in anybody’s collection, and here it’s bombastic worth is bolstered by some of the slightly anaemic fare that surrounds it. You probably don’t need to hear the band’s take on the Tom Jones track She’s A Lady – is it even a ballad? – again, but this is bona fide heavy rock of the highest order, and should be lauded as such.

Two great tracks, some not so great… in other words, another ARP album. If you don’t fancy this, don’t worry – there’ll be another one along very soon, I’m sure…

Ballads VI releases on April 21st.