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Accept “Balls to the Wall” (1983)

Considering some of the other acts out there now, Accept‘s “Balls to the Wall” doesn’t really sound all that heavy any more. Some tracks even manage to sound a bit less hard rock than AC/DC to be honest, but when it was new it was considered seriously heavy! With that said, it is a really fun album!

The riffs are good, the music is catchy, the guitars are muscular enough to let modern audiences know that these guys were “bad boys” back in the day, and the lyrics are just nuts. Seriously nut… “roll your eyes” nuts. I’m not entirely sure these German rockers had a good enough grasp of English to understand the nuanced meanings of some of the slang and idioms they were using, but they managed to make it work by hammering home the literal meaning of the lyrics, if not the implied meanings. Subtle, they were not.

That these lads from Soligen, Germany managed to create some truly fantastic songs in a language other than their mother tongue is impressive. It’s noteworthy that none of the songwriters are native English speakers because the odd choice of lyrics will likely make you do a double take on occasion. In the end, though, it doesn’t really matter. These songs are about the feelings that they provoke (unleash?) and they’re fun, raunchy, and powerful. They own it. They take names and kick ass.

A1 Balls to the Wall  As it’s their biggest hit, let’s just get A1 out of the way, shall we? It is truly a killer track. The title track of the album, it is an absolute classic early metal anthem. It rocks in all the right ways and has one of the fantastic sing-along choruses full of menace that made early metal so much fun. Upon release, these guys sounded positively dangerous; full of pent up testosterone and bent on taking over the world! The slaves and the oppressed shall rise up! They still manage to sound tough, but the sincerity of the delivery has lost some of it’s power and feels mildly amusing to this jaded twenty-first century citizen. Only adolescent boys could possibly take them seriously any more, but so what. The song is still awesome.

A2 London Leatherboys… really? I ‘m not sure if the homoerotic undertone was intentional, but all I can imagine is the leather guy from Village People doing his best to look rough and sleazy. I’m sure that’s not what they were going for. I know they mention boys in leather and girls in lace, but frankly, I’m not convinced, LOL! Apparently the song is about bikers, but the convoluted lyrics don’t offer a lot of help. In the end, they don’t actually matter because the song rocks and it’s another great sing-along chorus.

A3Fight it Back I’m not entirely sure if they mistranslated the idea of fighting back or if they are suggesting we fight something back (as it push it back). I think the song is really meant to be saying that we need to “fight back” against oppressors, but it lost something in the translation. And that’s OK. It works great AS-IS. The lyrics read like some kind of stream of consciousness by someone who’s annoyed about… something. It’s not a classic, but it features some quick-tempo 1-2, 1-2 drums, some crazy stereo screaming, and a decent enough guitar solo. It’s a bit OTT, but a fun listen in the middle of Side-A. It suffers from feeling like a less polished knockoff of the far better proto-speed-metal Fast as a Shark from their previous album “Restless and Wild”, but it is still a fun album track.

A4Head Over Heels I really dig this one. It starts with some damn funky bass and I love the guitar riff. What I don’t really understand is what they mean by Head Over Heels. To me, “head over heels” is an expression that means completely in love with someone. Here, I think they’re using it to mean literally falling down head first. Then, for the life of me I have no idea what’s going on except that maybe he has stumbled upon a spot in the local park where people gather for anonymous sex? Seriously. I have no idea what the lyrics are about but musically the song is great and rhythmically, the lyrics are punchy and, again, have a great sing-along chorus (if you don’t worry about the lyrics too much).

A5Losing More Than You’ve Ever Had, is another song with great guitar work and a fantastic chorus. Again, as a grammar teacher it drives me crazy, but I can forgive it because musically it’s a lot of fun.

Every song on Side-A is an awesome slice of pre-Hair Metal hard rock. It is an extremely strong side of an album and frankly, I would still love the album if this was all it had to offer, but surprisingly, Side-B is nearly as strong and just as much fun. And the lyrics are just as bizarre, bless.

B1Love Child has some great chugging guitar work in it. The rhythm is great and the lead guitar wails along throughout the verses. This is not Diana Ross and the Supremes. They’re using the phrase “love child” to describe sexual charisma as opposed to “born out of wedlock”, but whatever the case, they really think the Love Child guy is hot. As an example of this song’s WTF lyrics, see below.

Feeling the power of lust when the guy’s passing by
Wrecking one’s brain and I’m going insane – don’t know why

Don’t know what I am, a woman or a man / Many troubles behind me
I’m doing all I can but I’m what I am / Leave me alone, don’t mistreat me

B2Turn Me On I’m not really sure what they think “turn me on” means, but they use it as if the meaning is “get me off”. It’s kind of strange. But… whatever… It’s got a great chorus and it’s full of mean guitars and lyrics that would probably have made Bon Scott laugh. Essentially the song is about a guy getting a hand job. It ain’t subtle.

B3Losers and Winners. Oh. My. God. Reading the lyrics on paper, it starts out as a lovely song with one guy telling his friend that if he likes this particular girl, he should express his feelings to her. There are some bizarre sing-along lyrics “write a letter / you’ll feel better”. It looks ridiculous on paper and sounds ridiculous in an up-tempo hard rock song, but somehow it works. I must admit though; it’s hard to sound menacing when you’re singing those lyrics, haha.

Musically its a pretty muscular rock track that reminds me of KissI Stole Your Love, but lyrically it’s totally asinine and adolescent. Yes it rocks, but it also really makes me scratch my head in utter disbelief. It just makes me laugh. Once again, the sincerity of the delivery makes me think they must have believed this track to be pretty inciteful, and maybe to a teenager it was. It does an admirable job of setting teenage hormones to music.

B4 – Guardian of the Night has some really nice musical turns. There’s not much to say about it except that, although its a bit generic rock sounding, it’s got a few chord changes that are reminiscent of Ozzy Osbourne‘s Crazy Train and that’s not a bad thing! It’s a good song within the context of the album, and although it wouldn’t necessarily stand out on its own, it’s perfectly placed for maximum enjoyment within the album’s running order. I especially like the vocal melody of the pre-chorus, but the rest is just “ok”.

B5Winterdreams is the one song on the album that could conceivably be called a Spanish influenced ballad, but I think I would rather call it a mid-tempo rock track. It’s got some nice guitar work and I like the vocals. I really the backing vocals, too. It’s a great way to close out the album.

If I come across as laughing a lot while reviewing this album, please know that I actually do enjoy listening to the album from start to finish and if I am laughing it’s because I’m having a good time with it! Childish and adolescent though it may be, it is pure escapist fantasy. I can’t help but roll my eyes and smile at some of the juvenile lyrics and goofy turns of phrase. I know it’s ridiculous (and I sincerely hope the band knows how ridiculous it is as well) but that silliness is really part of the charm. I just go with it and enjoy myself.

One thing is for certain, as odd as the lyrics have a tendency to be, these guys really knew how to put together a great song with a good melody and a hook-laden chorus. They pulled out all the stops on this album and it has aged surprisingly well. There is nothing lacking: it has choruses that make you want to raise your fist and sing along, great guitar work, bombastic drums, bits that make you wanna bang your head, and enough energy to power all of Berlin for years.

Although it is classified as heavy metal, I highly recommend it if you enjoy classic metal, hair metal, or just plain old hard rock. It has something for anyone who likes a mean guitar with killer riffs and a snarling front man with a good growl.

I’ve heard it on CD and I’ve heard an original German vinyl pressing. Both sounded great! I recently purchased the 2019 pressing from Music On Vinyl (MOVLP 2435) and it was a pleasant surprise! It is quiet and beautifully mastered on 180gr virgin wax. The new MOV release has none of the over-compression that tends to show up on newer pressings of classic albums, but then again, I have yet to be disappointed by any album from MOV. If you’re a vinyl enthusiast like me and you’re waiting to get a decently priced original vinyl pressing of this album, I suggest you stop waiting. You won’t be disappointed with the MOV pressing. It looks and sounds fantastic (it even includes a full sized 4-page insert with lyrics and photos that replicate the inside of the original gatefold sleeve)!


What do you think? Had you heard of Accept before? Are you a fan? I’d love to hear from you!

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