For the first time in their twenty years and counting career, Swiss melodic rock band Crystal Ball are releasing a ‘Best of ..’ entitled 2020 (twenty songs, twenty years ..geddit?) This is a double CD celebrating the twentieth anniversary of the band. The first CD contains ten of Crystal Ball’s most popular songs in their first two decades together, all of them having been re-recorded and re-interpreted for the current time, and the second CD contains ten melodic tracks taken from the current decade but, again, either re-recorded, newly re-arranged and/or enhanced with additional recordings. In both instances, all the songs on discs one and two were chosen by fans via polls as well as streaming analyses.
After the opening minute of what appears to be a Swiss yodeling choir, the band opens up with the title track from their 2013 album, Hellvetia, with the vocalist sounding like Bruce Dickinson had he been born Swiss. This is followed by Moondance (no, not Van the man’s one) with the chorus reminiscent of Bon Jovi’s big hit ‘..bad name.’ And this sets the pattern for what’s to follow. What they do on the opening two tracks is largely repeated all the way through both discs. Most of their songs are played at the same pace and tempo, with little in the way of variety. It’s true, they have some catchy hooks and there are some impressive guitar licks, but the issue for Crystal Ball is some of these songs are several years old, and the newer tunes on the second CD suggest there’s little evidence of the band moving forward.
All this isn’t to say 2020 is a bad album, it’s not. In places it’s a fun listen… I suspect not too many girls have been told ‘you’re like a Mozart Symphony…’ and a Crystal Ball gig would probably be a good night out. Just don’t expect too much.
But, overall, this is an album for fans of Crystal Ball who’ll obviously know the tunes offered up, and who’ll be interested in knowing how familiar songs have been reinterpreted. If you’re coming to them anew, this’ll be your chance to catch up. In sum, 2020 is a pretty good release but, if you’re not already a fan, this album probably won’t be the one to draw you in.