I can still remember it like it was yesterday, the first time I heard, REALLY heard ACCEPT. I mean, yeah I’d heard “Balls to the Wall”, but other than that I really didn’t know anything. So, on a sunny day in February of ‘86 I believe it was, we were all home from school for a snow day, right? We were getting ready to have a snowball fight and were planning strategy. And my friend Nicholas had a tape in his pocket. It was a mix his older brother made called “Assorted Metal #3”. Well, without even seeing the J-card I just knew I had to hear what was on it. So I begged him to let me put in the ever-present Walkman for the battle ahead. Turns out this tape would be my first major introduction to two bands, one of whom was ACCEPT, and the songs “Midnight Highway,” and “Fast As a Shark,” which everyone knows is my all-time favorite.
From that moment on I was ready, ready for more. On subsequent hangouts at Nicholas’ house I managed to get my hands on Metal Heart, Balls to the Wall, Russian Roulette, and Restless and Wild (which will be discussed here in a bit). Now in all honesty, I didn’t love everything on those records, just select songs, with Restless being the exception because that album is damn near perfect. And when all the stuff happened later on with vocalist Udo Dirkschneider leaving I kind of lost interest in the older stuff for some time. So here we are in 2017. I was fortunate enough to see DIRKSCHNEIDER doing all the ACCEPT classics live on tour for the first and final time, and I am now in possession of the first four albums re-issued in Platinum Editions (out now, AFM Records) So, let’s do this, hey? Classic Albums with a twist…
So, of the four albums I have (ACCEPT, I’m a Rebel, Breaker, Restless and Wild) I figured we’d go in order of most favorite to least. Which is not to say that any of them are bad, per se. Well, Restless and Wild was always my favorite…until recently. Breaker has since overtaken it and quite frankly hasn’t left my truck’s CD player for weeks. Older me can’t get enough of this record and is pissed that younger me never heard it back then. Between the title track, “Starlight”, “Can’t Stand the Night”, “Son of a Bitch”, “Midnight Highway”, and the best track on the disc “Burning” it’s really a no-brainer how this happened. And I have to add that these cleaned-up versions of the old records sound FUCKING KILLER!!
Now we come to Restless and Wild, which is also an amazing album from start to finish. Songs like “Fast As a Shark”, “Restless and Wild”, “Flash Rockin’ Man” (another all-time fave), and “Princess of the Dawn” showed a band primed and ready to take it to the next level, which they did. This is one of those records that will forever be associated with me lying on my bed in junior high while it played on my turntable, all the while wishing I could be in a heavy metal band and rock the world. The fact that all these songs remain staples of the ACCEPT live show speaks volumes to their importance, don’t you think?
Up next is I’m a Rebel. At first listen, I wasn’t quite into this one, despite my love of the live versions of the title track. But there is some great stuff to be found. Plus, I really feel like this album benefitted most from the audio clean-up. With killer cuts like “I’m a Rebel”, “Thunder and Lightning”, and “China Lady” it was obvious that ACCEPT were starting to figure out who they were as a band, and that heavy was the direction they were headed in. But you can also hear that youth and rawness that is always exciting when it comes to a new band that is starting to make waves, or at the very least ripples.
The self-titled debut record ACCEPT is interesting for a number of reasons. When you look at a band like this and the fact they’ve been around nearly 40 years it is always fun to listen to their oldest album to see where they were and how far they’ve come since. Yes, it’s primitive in a lot of places, but show me an album in 1979 that wasn’t. What’s also interesting is Udo’s use of much more melodic vocals than his trademark screech that has been synonymous with ACCEPT for so many years. And you’d think that would make the songs less heavy or something, yeah? No. They still kick plenty of ass. Favorites for me were “Lady Lou”, “That’s Rock ‘N’ Roll”, and “Tired of Me.”
So here we are, 31 years after I first started listening to ACCEPT, and there are four new/old albums to go down memory lane with and in some cases, drink in a first or second time. And while no one full album is chock full of childhood memories for me, there are still so many tunes that trigger flashbacks of a simpler time, a more carefree time, a time when all we needed was our friends, some metal, and snow days to be happy. I can’t tell you how often I wish I could hop in a DeLorean and go back there to tell younger me not to grow up so fast. But since I can’t, these songs will have to do. So yeah, all four of these are Classic Albums in my book. ~dc