We have seen Gary Schutt before in the Jeff Scott Soto Series and that was with the review of the Takara album ‘Eternal Faith’ from 1993. Gary Schutt was the bass played. However, here is the not only the bass player, but he is also the guitar player, the keyboardist, the drum programmer. The only thing he doesn’t do on here is sing as that is left up to his good friend, Jeff Scott Soto. The two were spending a lot of time together because at the same time Gary was making his debut solo album, so was Jeff and we will get to his for the next review.
The album was recorded over a two week period in May of 1994 as both Gary and Jeff were renting a house in Delray Beach, Florida. The album was released on August, 31, 1994 in Japan and sometime in 1995 in Europe. It did get a reissue in 2005 that has 3 Bonus Tracks, but we are going to review the original album with the basic 11 tracks. And what we get is a cross between hard rock, melodic rock, aor and a little prog thrown in. Let’s check it out
The album kicks off with “Warpaint” and immediately you are sucked in to some great guitar playing as Gary rips some massive riffs. His bass is thunderous and powerful. The drum sound is the only negative because they are programmed sounding. To me it feels like an Extreme song a la ‘III Sides to Every Story’. The guitar has Nuno fill along with the bass and Jeff sings with a hint of Cherone and there is nothing wrong with that. An explosive opener and a sign of things to come.
Next we go full on prog rock with the epic 8 minute plus song “In Some Other Lifetime”. Full of keyboards, marching drum rolls and double bass kick drums (all programmed) and more fantastic guitar playing, and Jeff’s vocals are on point as usual. But the song lacks any excitement. The 80’s sounding keyboards kill it for me as the song is drenched in them which dates it. It is song that travels for 8 minutes going no where.
Then out of left field we get the instrumental of Star War’s & John Williams’ “The Imperial March” which is totally unexpected. It is a guitar & keyboard based rather than a full on orchestra. It is cool sounding enough but not as menacing, dark and interesting as the original. A valiant effort but misses the mark.
“No Man’s Land” opens with news feeds talking about growing murders and violence backed by some drumming. The music slowly bleeds in and then Jeff sings about that violence, a sad commentary on the world at this time (and today actually). It is a solid hard rocking song, the chorus is fairly catchy, but for musically a little dull especially for the subject matter. Jeff is the saving grace for this one along with a decent guitar solo.
Then we get a ballad called “I Guess I’m Still in Love” which is a cross between Journey and Barry Manilow and that is all in a very good way. It opens with a Neal Schon riff and Jonathan Cain keyboard. Jeff sings like Perry with Manilow elements thrown in for good measure. It is one of my favorite Soto moments on the album as he reaches some killer falsettos. It is a cheesy sounding song, but I’m okay with that is overall it is a good song. Hell, I like Manilow and Perry so I am a sucker for anything that sounds like them.
“Dangerous Horseplay” starts off and ends with some dialogue from The Simpsons…yes, the cartoon. Then goes in to an instrumental opening with a lot of fancy guitar playing from Schutt. He shows some great technique and a little showboating which is a good thing. There are some great Steve Vai moments with his playing and he shows that he can play more than just a bass.
Up next is “Stranded” which is straight up melodic rock. Some crunchy guitars, but the highlight will be Soto as no one does melodic rock like does. His vocals are smooth and the high notes are killer. The chorus will suck you in and Soto owns it. The keyboards here are accent pieces that add to the value rather than detract. All-in-all, one of the better songs on the album for me.
“Should Have Been Me” is a rocker with some more great riffing by Schutt. The chorus is killer as the deliver is different than the other songs. There is a great cadence to it which gives it a cool sound and pacing. A darker sounding song with some great playing. Another solid track.
“She’s Letting Go” opens with a monologue by Jack Nicholson from ‘Witches of Eastwick’ where talks about are women God’s mistake. I am guessing that is where we are going with the song. The song is another strong melodic and AOR song with more great vocals by Soto. Something you’d hear from Survivor or Journey and I could listen to them all day. And let’s not forget to mention Gary’s guitar playing on this as the solo is inspiring as his fingers fly over the frets. Great track.
A hard song to follow, we get “Your Friend” next and can it keep things going in the right direction. Well, we get a ballad so things are slowed down, but the song is unable to keep the momentum going. Jeff’s vocals stay in that falsetto almost the whole time and even though the music keeps building as the song goes with more instruments being introduced, it still plods along and doesn’t have any real exciting or interesting moments. Though Jeff does sound good, the same tone throughout hurts it and the solo is only so-so.
The final track is another prog song called “Fault Line” and at 11 minutes it is a lot to chew on to close out the album. There are a lot of electronic and keyboard elements to open and we get a lot of the same for a couple minutes and nothing really interesting happens until about 3 minutes in when Jeff finally comes in and starts singing as he sounds incredible. For me, there are a lot of Yes moments in the keyboard playing and heck maybe even some Jon Lord. The song has some brilliant moments and some moments that drag on. 11 minutes is a long time to keep a persons interest and this one doesn’t hold it the whole time, but worth hearing still.
- Warpaint – Keeper
- In Some Other Lifetime – Delete
- The Imperial March – Delete
- No Man’s Land – Keeper (1/2 Point)
- I Guess I’m Still In Love – Keeper
- Dangerous Horseplay – Keeper
- Stranded – Keeper
- Should Have Been Me – Keeper
- She’s Letting Go – Keeper
- Your Friend – Delete
- Fault Line – Keeper (1/2 Point)
The Track Score is 7 out of 11 or 64%. There are some great moments on here and crazy to think Gary played all the instruments. The biggest problem with me on this album is the drum sound, it is all programmed drums and I’m sorry but they sound like crap. Nothing beats a real drum sound. Remember that!! The prog elements were adventurous but I think Gary bit off more than he could chew there. The rest of the album was fantastic. Some great AOR and melodic moments. The ballad “I Guess I’m Still in Love” is sensational and “Stranded” was another killer track for me. My Overall Score is a 3.0 out of 5.0 Stars as it does deserve a passing grade and for a debut solo album, Gary did fantastic, but he didn’t find his identity yet with his sound as he was a little all over the place. Still worth grabbing though especially if you are a Soto fan.
UP NEXT: JEFF SCOTT SOTO – ‘LOVE PARADE’ (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)
- Talisman – ‘Life’ (1995)
- Takara – ‘Taste of Heaven’ (1995)
- Axel Rudi Pell – ‘Made in Germany (Live)’ (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 at 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)
- Jeff Scott Soto / Jason Bieler – Live In Concert (2022) – Bonus Edition