When I first discovered Axel Rudi Pell, it was through a radio show that played the song “Masquerade Ball” and it just blew me the hell away. Sure, it was nothing new under the sun, but the way he mixed Rainbow with Tony Martin era Black Sabbath really did the trick on me. Of courser, I have known OF him for a long, long time – through his time in Steeler (the German version, not the Ron Keel / Yngwie Malmsteen one) to his solo career. He was frequently featured in some of the hard rock and metal magazines that I read throughout the 80’s and 90’s and I noticed that he had once hired one of my favourite singers, Jeff Scott Soto of Talisman and Yngwie Malmsteen fame. However, on this particular track, it was Hardline singer Johnny Gioeli who sang and does so to this day. I instantly bought the compilation album The Wizard’s Chosen Few (2000) which got me hooked right away and left me wondering why on earth I hadn’t checked this man out sooner. Well, maybe I was better off not doing so because his first few solo albums (those who featured Soto and one also Rob Rock) left a whole lot to be desired. But albums like Black Moon Pyramid (1996), Magic (1997), Oceans Of Time (1998), The Masquerade Ball (2000) and Shadow Zone (2002) are all very good albums and has a place in my record collection.