After the disappointment of the last Talisman album ‘Life’, Talisman went on an indefinite hiatus. They technically weren’t broken up, just doing separate things…sort of. Guitarist extraordinaire, Frederik Akesson, did leave the band to pursue something more heavy with a band called Eyeball. Jeff Scott Soto and Marcel Jacobs thought stuck together. They wanted to put something out that would hold over the Talisman fans until they could decide what was going to happen with Talisman.
Out of that came the band Human Clay. You would ask, why not continue Talisman. The answer was simple. Jeff was needing a steady income and reforming Talisman at the time was not a viable option as he had committed to doing his 70’s tribute band Boogie Knights. This wouldn’t allow for touring. So, they stuck with the Human Clay idea and recorded between December 18th, 1995 and January 10th, 1996. They decided to grab a bunch of old material that they never released with Talisman and put together an album. They didn’t have a drummer so they used a drum machine instead (which I don’t usually like) and then Marcel handled all the other instruments with some minor exceptions. The production on the debut album is not that great as they didn’t have much of a budget, but I will try to focus on the songs and not the production value…much.
If you are curious as to how they got the name Human Clay, well, I will tell you what I know. They liked the name Human as part of the band name as Jeff’s a fan of Human League and they tried a bunch of different combinations and each one seemed to already be used by another band. Soto says he also liked Andrew Dice Clay so they took the clay part. The Human Clay name wasn’t being used by another band so they went with it. Not very exciting of a story and I am not sure how much of it is true or just the Soto trying to be funny.
The CD I have of the debut Human Clay album is actually a 2 CD set with both Human Clay albums including ‘U4IA’. It is called ‘Closing the Book on Human Clay’ and actually has the Japanese bonus tracks on each disc included so a great one for you to get if you are out and about. The original album was released on around June 21, 1996 in Japan.
The album kicks off with a cappella track “2 Your Heart” which is short and sweet and has some fantastic harmonies. A real showcase of Jeff’s talent as he is front and center. Then they go straight in to “Golden Years” which was written by Marcel Jacob some 14 years earlier and now finally seeing the light of day. Marcel’s bass is loud and proud and driving the song. It is a pure rocker, hard and heavy and the real opening track. More great vocals by Soto and they deliver another solid melodic rock track.
“Heaven on Earth” sounds just like a Talisman song but what else would you expect with these two together. There is a lot of echo on Jeff’s vocals with this one (poor production value), but the song is still catchy and worthwhile. It almost sounds a little unfinished though and the drum machine is a little much on this one, but again, it does stick with you and the guitar solo is worth it on its own.
Then we get “Jealousy” which started a lot of rumors that Soto was getting back with Yngwie…Why you ask? Well, Yngwie Malmsteen plays lead guitar on this one. Believe it or not, there was a time when these two actually still talked to one another. The music is a little overpowering on Jeff’s vocals towards the beginning because Jeff is singing softer. The song builds and has a pretty epic feel and more an Yngwie styled song. I have to admit, I find the verses a little boring, the bass is too loud and the song never really seems to go anywhere. It feels like they bit off more than they could chew with this one. Now, the solo is classic Yngwie…super fast shredding and sadly not long enough. I can’t believe I said that. The song was taken from a previous demo called “Guardians of My Life”.
Next is “Outside Lookin’ In” which is another rocker. It feels like running a race with the tempo. A decent track, more great playing and vocals. Then they slow things down with “Without You” which has pretty bad keyboard/horn sounding instrumental piece. It drones on and on and does nothing for me. It is trying to go some where but seems lost. The solo kicks in and feels completely out of place as the tempo is too fast for the rest of the song. Just all sorts of wrong as the song now ends at the faster pace and doesn’t fit with the opening.
“Now It’s Time” sees Brian Young on lead guitar. Brian is from a very early Soto band called L’amour. This one kicks some ass and completely rocks out. The guitar sound is great, Marcel’s bass is thumping away. Jeff sings with a sort of radio effect on his voice for the opening verse than he is back to his magical vocals. Another classic Talisman sounding track and one of the better ones on the album.
Then we get “Don’t Look Back” which was originally released by Bai Bang and called “Run to the End”. A very glam rock / 80’s style song. Full of keyboards and a rather upbeat, happy type song. A little cheesy sounding, but I like it. It makes you bob your head and tap your feet.
“Holdin’ On” will sound totally familiar to you. It is actually the original version of the song “Body” that was the Talisman album “Truth”. That one was heavy and one of the best songs on the album. This one is still heavy and one of the best songs, but it is missing some of the cool vocals they added to the other song. It had a little more balls to it. However, this is still pretty freaking cool the only problem is you are too familiar with “Body” and you want to sing it that way.
“I Wanna Go Home” is another typical Talisman rocker. Decent enough and worth keeping, but not worth writing home about either. “Vows in Stone” is pretty forgettable. I’ve listened to this album a lot the week of writing the review and I couldn’t remember how this goes and I think that is all you need to know.
The last track on the original album sees Human Clay go all bluesy. “I’d Rather Have the Blues (Then 2 Spend My Life With You)”. If that isn’t a blues title I don’t know what is. The song doesn’t really fit the vibe of the album, but it isn’t a bad track. Jeff’s vocals are too perfect for Blues if that is the only fault I have with the song. Cool to see them try something different and new.
The Japanese Edition (and my copy) has 2 bonus tracks. The first is “In the Line of Fire” and I think is better than most songs on the album. It is a heavy, uptempo rocker and has one hell of a guitar solo…might be best on the album as well. Totally killer track. The 2nd bonus track is “Eternal Flame” which was originally recorded by John Norum on his album ‘Total Control’. A heavy bass track laid over some great guitar work, I believe by Fredrik Akesson himself. Jeff sounds killer as his vocals during the chorus soar. If the solo on the previous song was great, what does that make this one…amazing maybe!! Another beast of a track. Sadly, if you took a couple tracks off the original album and added these two it would have boosted the score tremendously. They are so worth grabbing.
- 2 Your Heart – Keeper
- Golden Years – Keeper
- Heaven on Earth – Keeper (1/2 Point)
- Jealousy – Delete
- Outside Lookin’ In – Keeper
- Without You – Delete
- Now It’s Time – Keeper
- Don’t Look Back – Keeper
- Holdin’ On – Keeper
- I Wanna Go Home – Keeper (1/2 Point)
- Vows in Stone – Delete
- I’d Rather Have the Blues (Than 2 Spend My Life With You) – Keeper (1/2 Point)
- In the Line of Fire (Bonus Track) – Keeper
- Eternal Flame (Bonus Track) – Keeper
The Track Score is 9.5 out of 14 or 68%. I have to bring up production on this again as it is really bad on most of this album. It is hard to ignore and must be pointed out. However, there are some gems on here as with almost every Soto album. The two bonus tracks might be the best songs, but you also have “Now It’s Time” and “Holdin’ On”. Jeff does sound great, but production hurts Marcel’s bass sound as it isn’t as crisp and brutal is he usually is. It is a very disappointing album only saved by the bonus tracks. My Overall Score is a 3.5 out of 5.0 Stars. Without the bonus tracks and maybe a 2.5.
UP NEXT: TALISMAN – ‘BEST OF’ (1996)
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 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