Nearly the only flaw with the previous U.D.O. album, 2011’s Rev-Raptor, was that it was released in several different versions with exclusive bonus tracks on each one. This is a problem that has plagued far too many bands over the years, and U.D.O. is certainly no exception. It is perhaps this legendary group’s only weakness. With that in mind, I was overjoyed to find out about this 2-CD collection of “bonus” and rare tracks, released to celebrate U.D.O.’s 25th anniversary and main-man Udo “Bastard!!” Dirkschneider’s 60th birthday. As far as I can tell, Celebrator compiles all of the band’s hard-to-find songs up to and including the Rev-Raptor Japan-only bonus tracks (although not the Limited Edition ones, which is a bummer, but at least that’s easier to find than the Japanese pressing), plus a ton of stuff I didn’t even know existed. You might not think that you need to hear a “piano version” of Accept’s venerable “Balls to the Wall,” or an “orchestral version” of “Tears of a Clown” (both of which are amazing!), or covers of “Metal Gods” and “Born to Be Wild” (which is a team-up with Raven), or Udo singing with Lordi (“They Only Come Out at Night”) and Hammerfall (an excellent cover of the Accept classic “Head Over Heels”), but if you’re an U.D.O. fan then you need all the Udo you can get. And if you’re not an U.D.O. fan… well, this won’t convince your stupid ass. With 25 tracks, Celebrator really delivers a massive amount of Heavy Metal, even if there are a few that are merely “remixes” of album tracks, such as Udo’s duet with Doro Pesch (from 2002’s Man and Machine), “Dancing with an Angel.” I hope to hell that this release brings an end to the protracted and grueling Bonus Track Wars, but that’s a pipe dream, so go ahead and sign me up for the next collection, whenever it may be unleashed, although I do think that if I can produce receipts for all U.D.O.’s previous albums, these should be free. And that’s all that holds Celebrator back from a ten.
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