Talisman – ‘Life’ (1995) – Album Review (The Jeff Scott Soto Series)

When it was time to start work on the new Talisman album, Marcel Jacobs flew to the States to meet up with Jeff Scott Soto and write songs. He was there for a few weeks in March 1995 and they cranked out a batch of songs. But recording this time around was going to be different. The band didn’t meet up in the studio to record the album. Instead each member recorded their parts in different studios around the world. Once the music was done, they sent the tapes to Jeff and he added all the vocals. Not the quickest way or easiest and doesn’t always deliver the best results.

The first time the band members were all together in the studio was only when it was time to mix the records and that time was short. There was a big issue with the Japanese label. They wanted the album done by a set date. The band was rushed to get it mixed and that was done by Mats Lindfors. Marcel was not happy with the mix, but the Japanese label didn’t care so they took the original mix. The album was going to be released.

On the good side of it, their European label, Polydor Records didn’t have a deadline. This allowed the band to remix the album, make some vocal edits (as Jeff wasn’t happy with a few parts) and then on August 23, 1995 the album was released in Europe. And yes, it was a different mix than the Japanese Edition. Of course that means I now need both copies so off I go to find the Japanese Edition. My copy of the album is a 2004 release which was a 2 CD set including the ‘Life’ album and the ‘5 out of 5’ live album we reviewed a couple weeks ago.

The album didn’t do as well as the prior Talisman albums and that was all due to label issues. You see there was an issue with distribution as the new distributor prioritized their own albums over Polydor’s releases. People with the labels were getting fired and the Japanese label ended up going bankrupt. Mix all those things together and trouble will ensue.

“Tears in the Sky” opens with a drum barrage and then Marcel’s bass comes in hard and heavy. Immediately you know this is Talisman! Jeff Scott Soto’s lyrical delivery is quick and hard. You get a bass solo first and then a guitar solo and I love it when we get both in a song. The song is powerhouse of an opening track. There is a long fade out which is strange as Marcel hates fade outs.

Then completely out of left field we get a cover song as the 2nd track. It is the song “Crazy” originally done by Seal. Totally unexpected and very much welcomed. Jeff loves those soulful songs and can run with the best of them, but he does seem a little restrained like he’s holding back. By the end though he does let loose. The make it their own instead of using keyboards to make all the sound effects in the original they are all done on guitar by Fredrik Akesson.

Some killer riffs open one of the heaviest songs on the album with “Body”. There is a part in the song where we get what sounds like “Cool It, Cool It, Cool It” which sounds totally badass. The song is aggressive and a little funky at the same time. Another incredible solo by Akesson who is a total beast on guitar.

“Temptation” opens with a guitar shuffle and then Jacob’s bass line is front and center and driving the song forward. Talisman loves to have that bass turned up loud and in your face and I’m okay with that as well. The song itself is a little generic and not overly exciting or interesting otherwise. Next up is “Loveblind” which is more melodic and though it is uptempo it isn’t as heavy as other songs on the album. It is more of the same in the fashion of “Temptation”.

With “Soul 2 Soul”, we get what might be the best song on the album. Jeff speaks the opening verse with some heavy-ass bass accompanying him. When he does start singing it is soft and tender but on the chorus it picks up with some great melodies and harmonies. I don’t think you would call it a ballad, but it is pretty close. Jeff’s vocals soar and are so silky smooth. The song has a lot going on and keeps your interest as you don’t know what will happen next. Melodic rock at its best and inspired by Michael Jackson.

“All That Really Matters” another straight forward melodic song. Catchy chorus, great riffs and the obligatory solo. Overall though, a little uninteresting and dull at times as it is too similar to a couple other songs on the album. But not a bad track. Then we go into “A Life” which is pure Queen. It even opens with some lyrics referencing “Mama” but he didn’t kill a man. There are ton of musical changes in the way Queen would do it even a piano section. Jeff actually raps a little in this one too. It is all over the place, but I like the variety and it isn’t boring.

Then the band goes all funkalicious with “Sympathy”. The tempo is blistering fast, the drum his are a hard and fast snare beat, the guitar solo is a scorcher and it all just rocks out. Hold on to your hat with this one. “So Long” is another heavy bass track as Marcel is loud on this one. Luckily Jeff’s vocals are hard to overpower and he shines with his silky smooth vocals. A catchy chorus and a good guitar solo, but the turned up bass was a little much on this one. It only makes it a so-so track.

Bonus Tracks:

There 6 bonus tracks on this release. Two of the releases are from the Japanese Edition and the first one is “Hands of Time” which is a heavy rocker that sees the music stop when Jeff starts the vocals of each verse before coming slamming back in. There is a cool drum solo at the end of the track which is unexpected which makes this cooler than some of the tracks on the regular version. The other track is “How Was I To Know” is sort of a ballad but a little poppier and upbeat at times. However, it is also a little generic and not overly inspiring. This was the first time the band let Jamie Borger be more involved on the production side which is nice as it supposed to be a band. “Love’s Gone” is a previously unreleased track written with the help of a friend of Jeff named George Bernhardt, but they didn’t like the song enough to include originally. And there is a reason as it is really bad. Lifeless and dull.

To finish off the CD we get three demos of songs from the album. First up is “Tears in the Sky”. The demo is much more reserved and not as explosive as the final version. The explosive opening is missing but the heart and meat of the song is still there. “Sympathy” is not as funked out and that slamming snare drum beat is no where near as pronounced. Again though, the heart of the song is there and doesn’t sound that different. “Temptation” still has that heavy bass thumping away but the guitar work is not the same. A little toned down and still in the early stages of the song, but I like this version too.

Track Listing:

  1. Tears in the Sky – Keeper
  2. Crazy – Keeper
  3.  Body – Keeper
  4. Temptation – Keeper (1/2 Point)
  5. Loveblind – Keeper (1/2 Point)
  6. Soul 2 Soul – Keeper
  7. All That Really Matters – Keeper (1/2 Point)
  8. A Life – Keeper
  9. Sympathy – Keeper
  10. So Long – Delete

Bonus Tracks:

  1. Hands of Time (Japanese Bonus Track)
  2. How Was I To Know (Japanese Bonus Track)
  3. Love’s Gone (Previously Unreleased)
  4. Tears in the Sky (Demo)
  5. Sympathy (Demo)
  6. Temptation (Demo)

The Track Score is 7.5 out of 10 Tracks or 75%.  I didn’t score the bonus tracks because they are just that, bonus. Not part of the original album.  I do have some issues with this one as I thought the mix on my version was bad and that mostly comes with the uneven transitions between songs. It is very inconsistent.  There are only a handful of standout tracks such as “Tears in the Sky”, “Crazy”, “Body”, “Soul 2 Soul” and “A Life”, but otherwise the rest of the album could be forgettable.  Out of the four studio albums so far, this might be the weakest up to this point.  It does have its moments though and is above average which is why My Overall Score is a 3.5 out of 5.0 Stars.  I don’t know if it was for the fact they felt rushed or production, but the quality of the songs on this weren’t there.  It could also be they didn’t perform this one live in the studio together which I find can hurt the vibes of the album.

UP NEXT: AXEL RUDI PELL – ‘BLACK MOON PYRAMID’ (1996)

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) / ‘Soldiers of Light: The Complete Recordings (2019)
  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. Bakteria – ‘Deficate! Suffocate! Mutilate! Masturbate!’ (1992 / 2009)
  13. Eyes – ‘Windows of the Soul’ (1993)
  14. Talisman – ‘Genesis’ (1993)
  15. Axel Rudi Pell – ‘The Ballads’ (1993)
  16. Biker Mice From Mars – ‘Biker Mice From Mars (Soundtrack)’ (1993)
  17. Takara – ‘Eternal Faith’ (1993)
  18. Talisman – ‘5 Out Of 5 (Live in Japan)’ (1994)
  19. Talisman – ‘Humanimal’ (1994)
  20. Axel Rudi Pell – ‘Between the Walls’ (1994)
  21. Gary Schutt – ‘Sentimetal’ (1994)
  22. Jeff Scott Soto – ‘Love Parade’ (1994)
  23. Axel Rudi Pell – ‘Made in Germany (Live)’ (1995)
  24. Takara – ‘Taste of Heaven’ (1995)
  25. Talisman – ‘Life’ (1995)
  26. Axel Rudi Pell – ‘Black Moon Pyramid’ (1996)
  27. Human Clay – ‘Human Clay’ (1996)
  28. Talisman – ‘Best of’ (1996)
  29. Axel Rudi Pell – ‘Magic’ (1997)
  30. Human Clay – ‘U4IA’ (1997)
  31. Boogie Knights – ‘Welcome to the Jungle Boogie’ (1997)
  32. Talisman – ‘Truth’ (1998)
  33. Takara – ‘Blind in Paradise’ (1998)
  34. Talisman – ‘Live at Sweden Rock Festival’ (2001)
  35. ‘Rock Star (Soundtrack)’ – Various Artists (2001)
  36. Jeff Scott Soto – ‘Prism’ (2002)
  37. Jeff Scott Soto – ‘Holding On E.P.’ (2002) – Bonus Edition
  38. Humanimal – ‘Humanimal’ (2002)
  39. Jeff Scott Soto – ‘JSS Live at the Gods 2002’ (2003)
  40. Talisman – ‘Cats & Dogs’ (2003)
  41. Jeff Scott Soto – ‘Lost in the Translation’ (2004)
  42. Jeff Scott Soto – ‘Live at the Queen Convention 2003’ (2004)
  43. Talisman – ‘Five Men Live’ (2005)
  44. Soul Sirkus – ‘World Play’ (2005)
  45. Jeff Scott Soto – ‘Believe in Me E.P.’ (2006) – Bonus Edition
  46. Jeff Scott Soto – ‘Essential Ballads’ (2006)
  47. Talisman – ‘7’ (2006)
  48. Journey – ‘Live from Atlanta (Bootleg)’ (2006)
  49. Jeff Scott Soto – ‘B-Sides’ (2006)
  50. Redlist – ‘Ignorance’ (2007)
  51. Jeff Scott Soto – ‘Beautiful Mess’ (2009)
  52. Jeff Scott Soto – “21st Century” / “Gin & Tonic Sky” CD Single (2009) – Bonus Edition
  53. Jeff Scott Soto – ‘One Night in Madrid’ (2009)
  54. Trans-Siberian Orchestra – ‘Night Castle’ (2009)
  55. W.E.T. – ‘W.E.T.’ (2009)
  56. Jeff Scott Soto – ‘Live at Firefest 2008’ (2010)
  57. Jeff Scott Soto – ‘Damage Control’ (2012)
  58. W.E.T. – ‘Rise’ (2013)
  59. W.E.T. – ‘One Live in Stockholm’ (2014)
  60. SOTO – ‘Inside the Vertigo’ (2015)
  61. SOTO – ‘Divak’ (2016)
  62. Jeff Scott Soto – ‘Retribution’ (2017)
  63. Sons of Apollo – ‘Psychotic Symphony’ (2017)
  64. W.E.T. – ‘Earthrage’ (2018)
  65. SOTO – ‘Origami’ (2019)
  66. Sons of Apollo – ‘Live With the Plovdiv Psychotic Symphony’ (2019)
  67. Jeff Scott Soto – ‘Wide Away (In My Dreamland)’ (2020)
  68. Jeff Scott Soto – ‘Live and Loud in Milan 2019’ (2020)
  69. Sons of Apollo – ‘MMXX’ (2020)
  70. SOTO – ‘Revision’ (2020)
  71. W.E.T. – ‘Retransmission’ (2021)
  72. Jeff Scott Soto – ‘The Duets Collection, Vol. 1’ (2021)
  73. Jeff Scott Soto / Jason Bieler – Live In Concert (2022) – Bonus Edition

37 thoughts on “Talisman – ‘Life’ (1995) – Album Review (The Jeff Scott Soto Series)

  1. Sucks that the distribution screwed these guys but when I used to buy CDs I liked it when bands did a second disc of live stuff as at least it gives you some bang for your buck!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Jeff reminds me of a t-shirt I used to own. It was a shirt from a Canadian band from the 90s. The slogan on it read “victory through sheer volume”. That would be a good way to describe Jeff’s body of work. The number of albums he had a hand in, it boggles the mind.

    Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s