1994 has been a real busy year for Jeff Scott Soto as you can see from all the 1994 reviews. His band Slam was pretty much done so all his time was now focused on Talisman. Marcel Jacob and Jeff Scott Soto would end up writing a ton of songs for the next studio album. Talisman was now a full band. They had Jamie Borger on drums and Fredrik Akesson on guitar and with them coming off the last tour, the band was tight and hitting on all cylinders.
The band recorded the album in Sound Trade Studios and when they finished, they had 22 songs in can which coincidentally only took 22 days to record and mix. They wanted to do a double album and each disc would have a separate theme. One would be songs with human characteristics and the second disc with animal characteristics. However, the songs actually would all fit on a single CD, so they decided they wanted to only release a single CD.
So, the band picked their favorite 14 songs for the album and it was released in Europe . It was to be released in Japan, but they wanted a different set of songs so the Japan label picked the songs for their version of the album. The albums came out on May 25, 1994. And then a funny thing happened. The European version was out selling the Japanese version…in Japan. Yes, the import of the European version was way more popular. As a result, they ended up releasing the European version in Japan. And if that wasn’t enough, they released a part 2 version with all the outtakes on October 19, 1994.
The band’s sound had changed slightly as the bass was really moved more to the front of the mix and is very prominent in the sound (which I love), the drums were now real instead of using a lot of drum machines. The songs for the album were so diverse and had a little something for everyone. There were some really heavy songs, some with a little funk and then straight up rock & roll. The CD release I have is actually a re-issue as a double CD set and released in 2002. My copy is from Brazil and I do love the artwork with the gorilla morphed with a human face…quite scary and awesome at the same time. Okay it is music time…sit back as there are a lot of songs to get through on this one.
The album opens with “3233-Colour My XTC” with the “3233” part a short brief acoustic instrumental then straight in to “Colour My XTC” which is heavy and has some massive bass funkiness a la Red Hot Chili Peppers. Soto almost raps the verses and then blasts out the chorus with the heavy-ass bass thumping right along. “Fabricated War” explodes next without any hesitation. The song borders on speed metal as Fredrik’s shredtastic guitar work is second to none. Marcel keeps pace and is equally as strong while Jamie is banging away at the skins. Jeff’s vocals are aggressive and so metal until the song takes a turn and slows down before Fredrik comes in lays down a wicked solo.
“Tainted Pages” opens with another bass intro (I told Marcel’s bass was prominent) and is mid-tempo rocker with Soto’s vocals sounding melodic and in the groove with some great harmonies and hooks. “TV Reality” is an homage to Dire Strait’s “Money for Nothing” and they even sing the line “I Want My MTV”. The song starts off with someone flipping channels on a TV before we get more Jacob’s jamming. It is a cross between funk and rock and musically, Talisman’s talent is unmatched. Vocally, Jeff sounds great and even has a rap break in the middle of the track. A strange song yet somehow works.
And the band keeps bringing the funk with “Seasons” which sees Jeff get all soulful as this one has a more R&B vibe to it. I love Frederik’s shuffle of a riff as it brings a really cool element to the tune. The song is so slick and smooth and keeps the band bringing the variety and making it interesting. No time to get bored. “All + All” is the first ballad we get. Jeff goes all emotive on the vocals and sings in a slightly higher register. You could say it is very Terrence Trent D’Arbyesque.
“D.O.A.P.S.” (or Diary of a Pop Star) takes us back to the funk and you want get up and dance. It’s like Kool and the Gang suddenly appeared on the album. Marcel again just rips it. The highlight here are the vocals on the chorus as it is slick and so well produced. And there is more of that guitar shuffle we heard a few songs back. Then the metal is brought back with “Blissful Garden” and it is borderline grunge to with its darker edge, grittier tone until you get to the melodic chorus which will hook you in.
“Lonely World” is back to being very melodic and more of an 80’s rocker modernized a little (for 1994). At the end of the song, the chorus is played out backwards because Marcel hates for songs to fade out and he wanted to come up with something different…and this is different. Then we get “Delusions of Grandeur” (which was a popular saying in Star Wars for some strange reason) and funky rocker that sees Fredrik lay down a real subtle solo accompanied by Jacob on the bass. It was a really nice piece not showboaty at all. The song for me kicks some major ass. Then we get another ballad with “Since You’ve Gone” which is a beautiful acoustic accompaniment with Jeff’s vocals soft and quite nice.
The title track and my favorite track, “Humanimal” is up next and musically, the song sounds just as savage as the lyrics suggest. It is hard and heavy with Jamie pounding away at the drums with incredible bass work by Marcel and the blistering guitar riffs and shredding by Fredrik. They attack the song with such brutal force that you are overwhelmed by the aggressive nature of the sounds, but you are engrossed by them as well. Jeff Scott Soto’s vocals are equally aggressive, but so smooth and melodic that you find it familiar and satisfying. It is catchy and you can’t help but join in and singalong. It drives that animal in you out in to the open. CD 1 ends with “Doin’ Time Wit’ My Baby” which is an old doo-wap 50’s song…completely out of place on this album, but still so soulful and brilliant.
“Animal Ritual” kicks off Disc 2 as hard and heavy as the song on Disc 1. Aggressive and angry sounding, it is a down & dirty rocker. Then the longest title for a song ever award goes to “You Cannot Escape the Revelation of the Identical by Seeking Refuge in the Illusion of the Multiple”. This long ass title starts off as a metal instrumental with Fredrik shredding away and then takes a left turn and slows down with Jeff on vocals before it picks back up with the funked out bass and more Akesson riffing. Strange but cool track.
“My Best Friend’s Girl” goes back to the 80’s with this cheesy Pop/Rock song that would’ve slayed back in the day, but now is a little cringeworthy…yet I still like it as it is catchy and hooky. Plus Jeff sounds fantastic. Then we get “Dear God” which is rock track, but feels a little disjointed unlike the other songs on the album. The band sounds great, but it is prods along and is the first misstep on the album in my opinion.
The band quickly corrects that last mistake as “Hypocrite” might be the hardest song the band has ever done. Jeff screams the vocals (and still sounds great), Jamie is pounding the skins, Marcel’s fingers are flying over the fret board as Fredrik lays down the most wicked solo. A total beast of a track and as heavy as they come. “Wastin ‘R’ Time” brings a little funk back and we get some soulful vocals from Soto and a few speaking ad libs. Catchy Chorus, great harmonies and a wonderful melody, you get another solid rocker.
“To Know Someone Deeply (Is To Know Someone Softly)” is the final English speaking song on the album. It is another acoustic ballad with some angelic backing vocals. It is pure and utter cheesy with the over dramatic softness and high notes in Jeff’s vocals. However, it is a sweet song and quite lovely at times and Jeff hits some notes that could shatter glass. The final song “All + All” was converted to a Spanish Version called “Todo y Todo” to help expand their reach in the South American market. And it worked. Lastly, if you play this on your computer you can access the official music video for “Colour My XTC” as seen below.
On a side note, I had prepped the pictures prior to writing the review and then two days before I wrote this review, I met Jeff Scott Soto and he was kind enough to sign this album as it is one of my favorites…so the header picture has no signature…but now it does!
- “3233 Colour my XTC” – Keeper
- “Fabricated War” – Keeper
- “Tainted Pages” – Keeper
- “TV Reality” – Keeper
- “Seasons” – Keeper
- “All + All” – Keeper
- “D.O.A.P.S.” – Keeper
- “Blissful Garden” – Keeper
- “Lonely World” – Keeper
- “Delusions of Grandeur” – Keeper
- “Since You’ve Gone” – Keeper
- “Humanimal” – Keeper
- “Doin’ Time Wit’ My Baby” – Keeper
- “Animal Ritual” – Keeper
- “You Cannot Escape the Revelation of the Identical by Seeking Refuge in the Illusion of the Multiple” – Keeper
- “My Best Friends Girl” – Keeper (1/2 Point)
- “Dear God” – Delete
- “Hypocrite” – Keeper
- “Wastin ‘R’ Time” – Keeper
- “To Know Someone Deeply (Is To Know Someone Softly)” – Keeper
- “Todo y Todo” – Keeper (It’s a good song in any language)
The Track Listing is 19.5 out of 21 or 93%. I am probably biased with this one as it is my favorite Talisman album and has been since the first time I’d heard it. It has such a variety of songs and styles and we see the band stretch themselves to their breaking point and succeed. Whether it is metal, funk, 80’s rock, ballads or even Spanish songs the band really gave us an album that is both interesting and exciting which keeps you on your toes as to what will come next. Jeff’s vocals on here are the reason I became such a Soto fan. Throw in the unbelievable bass playing of the late, great Marcel Jacob, the exciting drumming of Jamie Borger and the shredding skills of the amazing Fredrik Akesson and you have a band that was gelling together and giving us their best. My Overall Score is obviously a 5.0 out of 5.0 Stars as it don’t get much better than this for Soto albums.
UP NEXT: AXEL RUDI PELL – “BETWEEN THE WALLS’ (1994)
THE JEFF SCOTT SOTO SERIES:
- Panther – ‘Panther’ (1986) – recorded in 1984
- Yngwie Malmsteen’s Rising Force – ‘Rising Force’ (1984)
- Yngwie Malmsteen’s Rising Force – ‘Marching Out’ (1985)
- Kuni – ‘Lookin’ For Action’ (1988)
- Kryst the Conqueror – ‘Deliver Us From Evil’ (1989) / ‘Soldiers of Light: The Complete Recordings (2019)
- Eyes – ‘Eyes’ (1990)
- Eyes – “Nobody Said It Was Easy” (1990) – 7″ Single – Bonus Edition
- Talisman – ‘Talisman’ (1990)
- Talisman – “I’ll Be Waiting” (1990) – 7″ Single – Bonus Edition
- Skrapp Mettle – ‘Sensitive’ (1991)
- Axel Rudi Pell – ‘Eternal Prisoner’ (1992)
- Bakteria – ‘Deficate! Suffocate! Mutilate! Masturbate!’ (1992 / 2009)
- Eyes – ‘Windows of the Soul’ (1993)
- Talisman – ‘Genesis’ (1993)
- Axel Rudi Pell – ‘The Ballads’ (1993)
- Biker Mice From Mars – ‘Biker Mice From Mars (Soundtrack)’ (1993)
- Takara – ‘Eternal Faith’ (1993)
- Talisman – ‘5 Out Of 5 (Live in Japan)’ (1994)
- Talisman – ‘Humanimal’ (1994)
- Axel Rudi Pell – ‘Between the Walls’ (1994)
- Gary Schutt – ‘Sentimetal’ (1994)
- Jeff Scott Soto – ‘Love Parade’ (1994)
- Axel Rudi Pell – ‘Made in Germany (Live)’ (1995)
- Takara – ‘Taste of Heaven’ (1995)
- Talisman – ‘Life’ (1995)
- Axel Rudi Pell – ‘Black Moon Pyramid’ (1996)
- Human Clay – ‘Human Clay’ (1996)
- Talisman – ‘Best of’ (1996)
- Axel Rudi Pell – ‘Magic’ (1997)
- Human Clay – ‘U4IA’ (1997)
- Boogie Knights – ‘Welcome to the Jungle Boogie’ (1997)
- Talisman – ‘Truth’ (1998)
- Takara – ‘Blind in Paradise’ (1998)
- Talisman – ‘Live as Sweden Rock Festival’ (2001)
- ‘Rock Star (Soundtrack)’ – Various Artists (2001)
- Jeff Scott Soto – ‘Prism’ (2002)
- Jeff Scott Soto – ‘Holding On E.P.’ (2002) – Bonus Edition
- Humanimal – ‘Humanimal’ (2002)
- Jeff Scott Soto – ‘JSS Live at the Gods 2002’ (2003)
- Talisman – ‘Cats & Dogs’ (2003)
- Jeff Scott Soto – ‘Lost in the Translation’ (2004)
- Jeff Scott Soto – ‘Live at the Queen Convention 2003’ (2004)
- Talisman – ‘Five Men Live’ (2005)
- Soul Sirkus – ‘World Play’ (2005)
- Jeff Scott Soto – ‘Believe in Me E.P.’ (2006) – Bonus Edition
- Jeff Scott Soto – ‘Essential Ballads’ (2006)
- Talisman – ‘7’ (2006)
- Journey – ‘Live from Atlanta (Bootleg)’ (2006)
- Jeff Scott Soto – ‘B-Sides’ (2006)
- Redlist – ‘Ignorance’ (2007)
- Jeff Scott Soto – ‘Beautiful Mess’ (2009)
- Jeff Scott Soto – “21st Century” / “Gin & Tonic Sky” CD Single (2009) – Bonus Edition
- Jeff Scott Soto – ‘One Night in Madrid’ (2009)
- Trans-Siberian Orchestra – ‘Night Castle’ (2009)
- W.E.T. – ‘W.E.T.’ (2009)
- Jeff Scott Soto – ‘Live at Firefest 2008’ (2010)
- Jeff Scott Soto – ‘Damage Control’ (2012)
- W.E.T. – ‘Rise’ (2013)
- W.E.T. – ‘One Live in Stockholm’ (2014)
- SOTO – ‘Inside the Vertigo’ (2015)
- SOTO – ‘Divak’ (2016)
- Jeff Scott Soto – ‘Retribution’ (2017)
- Sons of Apollo – ‘Psychotic Symphony’ (2017)
- W.E.T. – ‘Earthrage’ (2018)
- SOTO – ‘Origami’ (2019)
- Sons of Apollo – ‘Live With the Plovdiv Psychotic Symphony’ (2019)
- Jeff Scott Soto – ‘Wide Away (In My Dreamland)’ (2020)
- Jeff Scott Soto – ‘Live and Loud in Milan 2019’ (2020)
- Sons of Apollo – ‘MMXX’ (2020)
- SOTO – ‘Revision’ (2020)
- W.E.T. – ‘Retransmission’ (2021)
- Jeff Scott Soto – ‘The Duets Collection, Vol. 1’ (2021)