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You're Ready for the Metal Pirates Rock’n’Rolfers? - 95%

bayern, July 2nd, 2017

This is the only concert I am ever (never say “ever”, you vow-breaker!) going to review simply cause I’m not a fan of this particular format as sometimes a live gig can seriously ruin the impression from your favourite band either due to a sloppy sound, or badly disguised limited artistic abilities in a live setting, or a not very strong song selection, or even unsupportive, indifferent audience if you like… Titans like Scorpions, Metallica, Iron Maiden, Judas Priest, and Black Sabbath have infinite options when it comes to recording an official live DVD/CD with the hundreds of concerts they have around the world; but imagine underground heroes having chosen this particular small venue to put themselves on the live performance recordings’ map, with not many other opportunities looming on the horizon for that, and they face largely indifferent spectators with half of those sitting at the fuckin’ bar drinking… All kinds of screw-ups may spring up including taking large amounts of alcohol or other similar “insalubrious” substances the night, or even the morning before…

Our favourite pirates from the Hamburgeans have taken care of such inconveniences, and have produced one of the finest concerts on the metal circuit. That’s some way to put yourself on the metal map; with full force… And it was a perfect timing since “Under Jolly Roger” finally catapulted them out of the underground. There’s this minor annoyance that I would like to get out of the way before anything else, also noticed by other metalheads: Rock’n’Rolf’s insistently speaking English throughout provided that the concert was obviously held in Germany; he even pronounces the city (“Munich” rather than “Munchen”) in its English version which is by all means an awkward choice. If this was a requirement by the recording company than it’s understandable, otherwise there’s no justification whatsoever for this dodgy occurrence.

Excluding Scorpions’ two incomparable achievements in the concert sector (“Tokyo Tapes” & “Worldwide Live”), this opus can perfectly round up the Holy Three in this department on German soil, the other two being Accept’s unforgettable “Kaizuko Ban” and Destruction’s excellent “Live Without Sense”. When this live album reached Bulgaria, Running Wild were a largely obscure entity for the Bulgarian metalheads. There were a few dozens of fans probably who had “Under Jolly Roger” on side A or side B of a 90-min Sony or Hitachi cassette, but that was about it. I thought at the time that the band must have been big players on the field, their endeavours determinedly blocked by the Iron Curtain, with several full-lengths behind them to afford a concert in 1988… To those who were never exposed to the Running Wild repertoire previously, this is pretty much the essence of their yearly years, a very carefully arranged compilation which has no weak spot. “The Hymn of Jolly Roger” logically starts the fiesta with the title-track from the last instalment commencing the actual “abordage” which becomes more intimidating with the addition of the Mongolian hordes from “Genghis Khan” from the debut, a soaring sing-alonger that greatly involves the audience who will readily raise their fists on the following “Raise Your Fist”, a super-infectious power metal hymn, one of the best cuts from the “jolly” opus, without which the party simply couldn’t be complete; just sing, or rather shout the chorus and mosh around with the other “privateers”.

“Purgatory” must have been a big surprise for the fans since this song hasn’t been featured on an official release, a pretty acceptable heavy metal anthem which main motif is reminiscent of Judas Priest’s, not really Fleetwood Mac’s original, “The Green Manalishi”; it was intended as a diatribe against PMRC, the shitty censure organization in the US that tried to impose restrictions on the rock and metal acts in the-80’s regarding texts and live shows, and the one that W.A.S.P. ridiculed so well on “Live in the Raw” a year earlier. Once they have gotten that burning contempt out of their system, the guys carry on with “Mordor”, the band’s greatest song, the definitive galloper in metal history, a track that can carry a whole live show on its shoulders single-handedly. A mandatory present for the fans, and the only composition from the pretty mediocre sophomore, it instigates a speed metal melee that goes on with “Diabolic Force”, another invigorating reminder of the debut, “Raw Ride”, the instantly memorable hit from the “jolly good fellow” again, and “Adrian (S.O.S.)”, a bursting speed/proto-thrash metal fury taken from the “raw” debut. The headbangers having been thoroughly satisfied with this highly energetic string of songs, it’s time for a nice epic closure which “Prisoner of Our Time” from the debut provides so handsomely with the wider array of tempos, the nearly progressive layout, and the infectious chorus.

A job very well done everyone with every instrument heard to the last click and clock, Rock’n’Rolf losing his range a bit here and there, but not to such a detrimental extent; the man has never been the greatest performer behind the mike, and besides he has to take care of some of the guitar shreds, too, which is no mean feat. With three albums to choose from, the guys have found the perfect balance between the first showing and the flagship effort wisely ignoring “Branded & Exiled”, which again isn’t much to show off about except the grand “Mordor” of course, presenting the core of their repertoire in all its pillaging, ravaging, robbing pirate glory. The only missing piece from my personal preferences is “Beggar’s Night”, a great speed metal epic which gave a nice more serious flair to the “Jolly Roger” saga, and may have been used as the closer to the show, replacing “Prisoner of Our Time”, by also adding more to the preceding speed metal “skirmishes”… Just a belated recommendation by an old fart… sorry, “pirate”, who sailed under the Jolly Roger flag once upon a time, fondly remembering those lawless times whenever an opportunity arises, joining the audience on this live outbreak with a raised fist and a bottle of rum, always ready for boarding any shabbily, also ominously looking ship, or for falling under the table of some bar in Port Royal.

Needed One Of These - 80%

OzzyApu, October 20th, 2010

Running Wild’s first full live album ends on the old style and makes way for the new one that would propel the band (or really just Rolf) into the top tier of power / heavy metal. At the time the band had respectable members: Moti on axe-recon, the bass guru Jens Becker (who would mark his territory on the albums to follow), Kasparek leading the pack, and Schwartzmann just molding with the rest of Rolf’s enlisted drummers. Simply put, these guys are all competent at their instruments and screw ups aren’t going to be heard constantly. The men play tightly but not in a free-form way that’d allow them to loosen up. Running Wild’s music isn’t meant for that since these compositions are only epic if they’re firm and rigid.

In terms of sound, I shouldn’t be surprised by the bass guitar audibility. When you see Becker on the line-up, then there’s going to be some autonomous, grumbling bass that could possibly hold the rhythm all on its own. These lines are slick as opposed to the farther backwashed guitar tone that barks and tears precisely as it should. Put in some up-close drums (they’re literally studio-clear) and it throws off the mixing since these songs are very guitar driven and not drum competent. Rolf is so-so on his delivery as he gets whatever breath he can between his clear shouting and wailing. On “Raise Your Fist” it’s a bit irksome hearing him lose his might trying to nail the chorus, but the man’s doing his best trying to pull it off so I let him get away with it. The incredibly cool riffs are there to catch him as he falls and it’s all good in the end.

When first putting this on I need to assimilate myself in the sound since the intro track isn’t the clearest bit (kind of scratchy), but immediately with “Under Jolly Roger” the band balances out the emptiness with their crunchy instruments (gets boorish during the latter half of the album). Moving forward, the song “Purgatory” – a previously and since-unreleased / -recorded track – is a solid rocker with a straightforward riff charge a little on the W.A.S.P. side of things, which is good news for most. The mid-paced strutting riff can do no wrong, but ultimately it isn’t the most climactic track; a polite addition that would have fit well on Under Jolly Roger. The following track, “Mordor,” is one of my favorites by the band and is played slightly faster than the original (like the other songs and typical in live renditions anyway). The dark atmosphere isn’t the same, no doubt, but the speed metal hellishness still rings with brutish energy; if only they nailed the outro like the studio version.

Overall the band did well putting this one out for fans before jumping on board the historic route. There aren’t any major hints of transitioning like what W.A.S.P. did with their live album Live… In The Raw, but that isn’t necessary in this band’s case. Whatever the band would throw next it was going to bombard the past releases – this much was known. Back then only time could tell, but today this is just another release that a Running Wild fan has the privilege of loving.

Live Pirates - 70%

Vlladimir, February 19th, 2008

After three studio albums, Rolf and co. have decided to release one live album, which will contain all important numbers from past three studio albums. Track list is promising, mainly all the best tunes of that time are on the album, and even more. Band incorporated one new song into the set-list. It is the song entitled ''Purgatory''. This song has never been released in studio form before, so you have this song here, in it's live show form. As I mentioned above, this album have solid set-list, solid timing, pumping intensity during the songs and so on...but on the other hand, there is one flick. This is not the live album! Crowd is recorded in studio as well as all of the tracks on it. Rolf's talk between the songs is too much off from the reactions of the crowd, and even he greets crowd with the words ''Hello New York, how do you feel'' on the beginning of the show, and ''Thank you New York...'' at the end of the album, you can hear crowd that calling ''we want more'' in German. Funny mistakes if you listen carefully. :)

Besides that, ''Ready For Boarding'' is good album, even if it isn't really recorded live, but it surely defines very well the first three albums period of the band. Songs are faster than in studio versions, and that's the good thing, as you can hear much more strength and energy than in old album versions. ''Ready For Boarding'' rather can be consisted as fine ''best of compilation'' than the first live album, thus he consist all of the gems from 1984-1987 era. Songs that are worthy to be mentioned are ''Diabolic Force'', ''Raw Ride''-which is much, much faster than original, ''Prisoner Of Our Time'', ''Under Jolly Roger'' and ''Raise Your Fist''. Production of the album it's self is fine, balance between crowd noise and songs sound is well mixed, even if you can figure that this isn't live album. If you're a fan of the band you should dig this one. But, if you ain't, try to know this band's music by ''Under Jolly Roger'' and ''Gates Of Purgatory'' releases.

Vladimir Petkovic
For P-records ltd. Beograd;

Perfectly sums up the pre-piracy years - 89%

Klotet, November 17th, 2007

It’s 1987, and after some line-up changes the world’s leading (and, at the time, only) pirate metal band emerge with a tour to support their popular new album, Under Jolly Roger. They decide to release a documentation of the tour, so a couple of shows in Germany get recorded, and released in early 1988, making up the content of what I consider to be a very, very strong live album. It wasn’t widely recognised, which is a shame, because this album is in my opinion just as good as Live After Death, Live in the UK, maybe even the immortal Unleashed in the East (okay, maybe not THAT great, but you see my point).

Pretty much every song on here is represented in its ultimate form. Most of them are also faster than the originals, which is never a bad thing. The traditional shout-along crowd pleasers, like Raise Your Fist, Raw Ride, and of course the band’s ultimate classic Under Jolly Roger, work better than ever. The earlier songs from the two first albums, Gates to Purgatory and Branded & Exiled, are pumped up to the maximum on here, thanks to the new members (Bass virtuoso Jens Becker and drum ditto Stefan Schwarzmann) and increased experience and skills for the two guitarists, Majk Moti and the one, the only Rock N’ Rolf. The two axemen really show their true quality, which wasn’t always apparent in RW’s early catalogue, on songs like Raise Your Fist, Prisoners of Our Time and the oh so underrated Diabolic Force (damn, that song should be fucking legendary, it would probably be if every metalhead got to hear this version).
Purgatory is a song that has never been released in a studio version, which doesn’t bother me at all since no fancy studio equipment could do this song justice. It’s a live song all the way through. Interesting too how it sometimes resembles Judas Priest’s version of The Green Manalishi.
I also have to point out how amazing my Branded & Exiled favourite Mordor sounds on Ready For Boarding. It used to be a dark haunting piece, but not very headbangable since it was a bit too slow. On here, it sounds like it’s on fast forward. Amazing.

This overlooked gem is the perfect documentation of RW’s early years, since it’s pretty much as great as a live album gets. My only complaint would be Rolf’s audience talk, which, probably as a result of record company pressure, is entirely in English even though the audience is German. It sounds really silly. Also, there is no real sing-along section to be found.
But if you’re a fan of RW, it’s a must to get this. This is the classic Running Wild line-up if you ask me, and they’re all at their personal best here.