Panther – ‘Panther’ (1986) – Album Review (The Jeff Scott Soto Series)

Welcome and Happy New Year!! We are finally here. The first in the Jeff Scott Soto Series. I have been teasing this thing for months and let me tell you I am really excited to finally be starting the series. We are not going to go through Jeff’s entire career, but mostly focusing on albums where he is the featured singer. He has done a ton of tribute album songs, but this is all about the Studio albums he has done with his solo work and numerous bands he has been in and there are a lot. I have followed Jeff’s career for over 20 years thanks to the site Melodicrock.com. It was there I discovered Jeff with his band Talisman and his solo work. And from there, I’ve gone a little nuts. I’ve explored his entire career which now spans out 37+ years. We aren’t going back to the very beginning which would’ve have been his birth on November 4, 1965…nope that is too far back. We will pick things up in 1984 when Jeff was only 18 years old with his first real band. Yes, I know he wasn’t an official member of this band and that he was only used to record the demos so they could find a singer, but it is the first real recordings we have that have been released.

The album ‘Panther’ by the band Panther was originally released in 1986 and was only a 6 song E.P. Wait, 1986. If that is the case, why is this the first album? I’ll tell you why. The album was recorded in 1984/85 (depends what you read) as demos for the band. Right after recording the album, Jeff received a phone call from the management of some new gun slinger named Yngwie Malmsteen. Soto jumped at the chance and left the band to work with Yngwie’s Rising Force. Technically, the Yngwie albums were released prior to this one, but this one was recorded prior to those so that is why I am starting with this one. It is my site and my party and I’ll start where I want!

After Jeff’s success with Yngwie, the label finally released the album in 1986. It was released as an E.P. with only 6 songs. Good luck finding that original E.P. and if you have it…ugh how much do you want for it???? My copy is actually a re-release of the E.P. with four additional songs only a few years back in 2018. And that is perfect for me as I love to have as many songs as I can get. The band was Jeff Scott Soto on vocals, Mike Barrish on guitar, Glen Davis on bass and Scott Taylor on drums. The boys played up and down the LA Strip and played a lot at The Troubadour. Their style was typical 80’s Hard Rock with a very NWOBHM influence as well. And since that is all the history of the band I have been able to piece together (accurately or not accurately is to be determined) let us get to the music.

The album opens with “First There Was Rock” and it is all 80’s. Musically, think Dokken as the guitars are almost identical. Vocally, Jeff’s are soaring in a style that fits the genre but isn’t his true singing style. He almost has a Bruce Dickinson approach to the vocals and he hits the same type of high notes as well. It is a killer opening track. Next up is the Bon Jovi style song “Desire”. This one even had keyboards. Being around 84/85 it is slick and full of all the trademark 80’s sounds including high pitched screams and blistering guitar solos. Hell, if the cover of the album didn’t tip you off to the sound, then you can move on. Half naked woman with massive hair crawling across the floor is so 80’s.

“Danger” comes roaring out of the gate with a wicked bass line and guitars might be one of the heaviest tracks on the album. Jeff sings it trying to sound so tough and the band is as menacing as they can muster. It is a cross between Dio and Maiden. The song even has some electronic drum elements which would’ve been cooler if they were real drum sounds, but the guitar solo is brutal and does kick some major ass. Next up is “Deliver the Axe” which is more of the same maybe leaning more Ronnie James Dio this time. Complete with talks of Dragons and all that mystical crap and some interesting keyboard elements for added effect. There was a decent enough solo but the song is a different song than the rest.

“Warchild” comes at you slow and tender before attacking you like a fist to the face. It is pure NWOBHM as you’d swear you stepped in to a Maiden track. Jeff shouts a little more than sings but he is fitting his instrument to the type of music. And he does hit some killer high notes with those screams. The band are trying to check off a lot of boxes with these songs to make them fit in the scene. The last track on the original E.P. is the song “Panther”. YES!!! Panther on their album ‘Panther’ playing a song called “Panther”. A triple whammy!!! Jeff goes back to a Dio type vocal again with this one. Another heavy song with a slower darker tempo and vibe.

The first bonus track is “Set Me Free” which was a cassette only bonus track. This is one of my favorite songs on the album. Soto attacks it with a deeper tone and yet still soars with some high notes. The drumming on it is immense with some great fills. The guitar solo is typical for the time to see how fast he can go, but its great. It definitely takes me back to the 80’s with this one.

The final 3 bonus tracks are all demo tracks with a different singer. The singer is TJ Mach and recorded in 1988. These are demos so rough around the edges. The first is “Sheer Heart Attack” and no, not the Queen song, far from it. Being 1988, sadly the song sounds like early 80’s rock and hadn’t advance to the more late 80’s slickness. Singer TJ Mach is okay, but can’t match the vocal quality of Mr. Jeff Scott Soto but it is still a fun little track. “Take It To The Limit” is derivative of the 80’s it is actually quite laughable. Where other bands were moving forward, Panther was not. Lastly is “When You’re in Love” which is as close to a power ballad as the band would get. It sounds a lot like the band Steelheart, but they hadn’t come on to the scene yet. Being a demo it is unfinished and missing some clean up that could make it better, but there is some cool elements that I do like.

Track Listing:

  1. First There Was Rock – Keeper
  2. Desire – Keeper
  3. Danger – Keeper
  4. Deliver the Axe – Keeper (1/2 Point)
  5. Warchild – Keeper (1/2 Point)
  6. Panther – Keeper
  7. Set Me Free (Bonus) – Keeper
  8. Sheer Heart Attack (demo) (Bonus) – Keeper (1/2 Point)
  9. Take It To The Limit (demo) (Bonus) – Delete
  10. When You’re In Love (demo) (Bonus) – Keeper (1/2 Point)

The Track Score is 7 out of 10 or 70% which is more than it deserves. This isn’t a great album, but it ain’t half bad either.  It is an important starting point for Jeff as it was probably his first real band that played original material.  It is cool to see his humble beginnings and you have to remember he was only about 18 years old too.  He has come along way since.  The album is pure 80’s metal and sounds like everything from that time but there are some cool elements and even back then Jeff could scream some high notes that awesome.  The songs themselves are okay, nothing special but I still enjoyed this album a lot mainly for its historical aspect.  It isn’t the worst thing he has done and there are a few.  I am going to be generous with this one and give it an Overall Score of 3.0 out of 5.0 Stars as it is a must have for a real Jeff Scott Soto fan!!

UP NEXT: YNGWIE MALMSTEEN’S RISING FORCE – ‘RISING FORCE’ (1984)

THE JEFF SCOTT SOTO SERIES:

  1. Panther – ‘Panther’ (1986) – recorded in 1984
  2. Yngwie Malmsteen’s Rising Force – ‘Rising Force’ (1984)
  3. Yngwie Malmsteen’s Rising Force – ‘Marching Out’ (1985)
  4. Kuni – ‘Lookin’ For Action’ (1988)
  5. Kryst the Conqueror – ‘Deliver Us From Evil’ (1989)
  6. Eyes – ‘Eyes’ (1990)
  7. Eyes – “Nobody Said It Was Easy” (1990) – 7″ Single – Bonus Edition
  8. Talisman – ‘Talisman’ (1990)
  9. Talisman – “I’ll Be Waiting” (1990) – 7″ Single – Bonus Edition
  10. Skrapp Mettle – ‘Sensitive’ (1991)
  11. Axel Rudi Pell – ‘Eternal Prisoner’ (1992)
  12. Eyes – ‘Windows of the Soul’ (1993)
  13. Talisman – ‘Genesis’ (1993)
  14. Takara – ‘Eternal Faith’ (1993)
  15. Biker Mice From Mars – ‘Biker Mice From Mars (Soundtrack)’ (1993)
  16. Jeff Scott Soto – ‘Love Parade’ (1994)
  17. Talisman – ‘Humanimal’ (1994)
  18. Talisman – ‘Five Out of Five (Live in Japan)’ (1994)
  19. Axel Rudi Pell – ‘Between the Walls’ (1994)
  20. Talisman – ‘Life’ (1995)
  21. Takara – ‘Taste of Heaven’ (1995)
  22. Axel Rudi Pell – ‘Black Moon Pyramid’ (1996)
  23. Human Clay – ‘Human Clay’ (1996)
  24. Talisman – ‘Best of’ (1996)
  25. Axel Rudi Pell – ‘Magic’ (1997)
  26. Human Clay – ‘U4IA’ (1997)
  27. Talisman – ‘Truth’ (1998)
  28. Takara – ‘Blind in Paradise’ (1998)
  29. Talisman – ‘Live as Sweden Rock Festival’ (2001)
  30. Jeff Scott Soto – ‘Prism’ (2002)
  31. Jeff Scott Soto – ‘Holding On E.P.’ (2002) – Bonus Edition
  32. Humanimal – ‘Humanimal’ (2002)
  33. Jeff Scott Soto – ‘JSS Live at the Gods 2002’ (2003)
  34. Talisman – ‘Cats & Dogs’ (2003)
  35. Jeff Scott Soto – ‘Lost in the Translation’ (2004)
  36. Jeff Scott Soto – ‘Live at the Queen Convention 2003’ (2004)
  37. Talisman – ‘Five Men Live’ (2005)
  38. Soul Sirkus – ‘World Play’ (2005)
  39. Jeff Scott Soto – ‘Believe in Me E.P.’ (2006) – Bonus Edition
  40. Jeff Scott Soto – ‘Essential Ballads’ (2006)
  41. Talisman – ‘7’ (2006)
  42. Journey – ‘Live from Atlanta (Bootleg)’ (2006)
  43. Jeff Scott Soto – ‘B-Sides’ (2006)
  44. Redlist – ‘Ignorance’ (2007)
  45. Jeff Scott Soto – ‘Beautiful Mess’ (2009)
  46. Jeff Scott Soto – “21st Century” / “Gin & Tonic Sky” CD Single (2009) – Bonus Edition
  47. Jeff Scott Soto – ‘One Night in Madrid’ (2009)
  48. W.E.T. – ‘W.E.T.’ (2009)
  49. Jeff Scott Soto – ‘Live at Firefest 2008’ (2010)
  50. Jeff Scott Soto – ‘Damage Control’ (2012)
  51. W.E.T. – ‘Rise’ (2013)
  52. W.E.T. – ‘One Live in Stockholm’ (2014)
  53. SOTO – ‘Inside the Vertigo’ (2015)
  54. SOTO – ‘Divak’ (2016)
  55. Jeff Scott Soto – ‘Retribution’ (2017)
  56. Sons of Apollo – ‘Psychotic Symphony’ (2017)
  57. W.E.T. – ‘Earthrage’ (2018)
  58. SOTO – ‘Origami’ (2019)
  59. Sons of Apollo – ‘Live With the Plovdiv Psychotic Symphony’ (2019)
  60. Jeff Scott Soto – ‘Wide Away (In My Dreamland)’ (2020)
  61. Jeff Scott Soto – ‘Live and Loud in Milan 2019’ (2020)
  62. Sons of Apollo – ‘MMXX’ (2020)
  63. SOTO – ‘Revision’ (2020)
  64. W.E.T. – ‘Retransmission’ (2021)
  65. Jeff Scott Soto – ‘The Duets Collection, Vol. 1’ (2021)

71 thoughts on “Panther – ‘Panther’ (1986) – Album Review (The Jeff Scott Soto Series)

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