PRELISTENING: Udo Dirkschneider – My Way

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Udo Dirkschneider surely doesn’t need an introduction anymore to the metal masses. The one and only German heavy metal legend is turning 70 on April 6th, 2022, and what’s a better way to celebrate a birthday than releasing a brand new album? Dirkschneider is releasing an album filled with cover song gems and we got to listen to it during a virtual prelistening session on January 15th, 2022.

Cover songs can sometimes be a little bit of a hit or a miss. There are people out there who believe that QUEEN or even Frank Sinatra are untouchable and that you shouldn’t cover these bands. However, these people probably don’t know Udo and his capabilities. The great thing about these songs is that, while Udo respects the artists of each of these songs, he clearly made his own version of them, which occasionally led to a surprise, such as the Tina Turner cover, “Nutbush City Limits.

Other songs like “Man on the Silver Mountain” by RAINBOW and LED ZEPPELIN‘s “Rock and Roll” somehow stayed a little bit closer to the original. A fun listening experience was definitely “Hell Raiser,” originally by SWEET. Yet, the biggest surprise was perhaps “Paint It Black,” which got a more epic tone in arrangements. Other than the vocal melodies, there was not that much left of the original song by THE ROLLING STONES.

While most of the songs were quite energetic, Udo also picked out the slower, more intimate “Jealousy” originally by Frankie Miller. Personally, I had never heard of this track, so I couldn’t really compare it to its original, but it was a really powerful statement song. The track I was looking forward to the most – as a JUDAS PRIEST fan – was “Hell Bent For Leather,” which Udo did a perfect job of covering – if ever Rob Halford decided to quit JUDAS PRIEST, he’d be an excellent replacement.

Another twist was definitely the cover of “We Will Rock You.” That song is perhaps one of the most covered QUEEN songs and I didn’t expect it to be so different from its original. Udo made his own version of it and made us almost forget about the original. Even the iconic drumbeat got replaced by something else. In a way, I really like what he did with the song because he is not trying to match QUEEN, he is just trying to honor his idols in his own way.

While the international community may not know “Kein Zurück” by WOLFSHEIM, Udo took a risk and decided to include it on the album anyway. The original is a darkwave, synthpop song that couldn’t have gotten a more different and heavier rendition. This was also the first time we ever heard Udo Dirkschneider sing in his native language, German. He mentioned during the Q&A session that it was the most difficult song for him to sing, because of the language. Here’s to hoping we may get to listen to more German songs by Udo one day!

Now, we need to talk about the title of this record. While indeed it refers to the Frank Sinatra song on the album, it also explains pretty well how Udo has done this album, but also it explains his long-lasting and thriving career. He truly did things his own way and he did them incredibly well and is still kicking ass at 70 years old. He mentioned that he was careful with the cover songs, he actually tried to do the covers in his own way. He decided early on that he doesn’t have to sing like Klaus Meine, Freddie Mercury, or Frank Sinatra, but rather tried to give his own stamp to the record. Some songs subsequently got an entirely new arrangement, which we can only applaud!

We didn’t know all of the original songs by the start of the record, but Udo included some true classics that everyone who likes heavy metal will surely appreciate. We were at least glad that the Zoom event of this virtual prelistening got muted because the album was a truly great effort to sing and dance along to

Tracklist

1. Faith Healer (Alex Harvey)
2. Fire (Crazy World Of Arthur Brown)
3. Sympathy (Uriah Heep
4. They Call it Nutbush (Tina Turner)
5. Man On The Silver Mountain (Rainbow)
6. Hell Raiser (The Sweet)
7. No Class (Motörhead)
8. Rock and Roll (Led Zeppelin)
9 .The Stroke (Billy Squier)
10 .Paint It Black (Rolling Stones)
11. He´s A Woman, She’s A Man (Scorpions)
12 .T.N.T. (AC/DC)
13. Jealousy (Frankie Miller)
14. Hell Bent For Leather (Judas Priest)
15. We Will Rock You (Queen)
16. Kein Zurück (Wolfsheim)
17. My Way (Frank Sinatra)