Takara – ‘Blind in Paradise’ (1998) – Album Review (The Jeff Scott Soto Series)

Takara had 2 albums in the can with Jeff never really being an official member. He was always doing the vocals to help promote the band and hopefully giving them a chance to find a new singer. The third album was written and the music was laid down back in December 1996. The tapes were sent to Jeff and it took almost a year for Jeff to finish the vocals as he was so busy with The Boogie Knights. You might ask yourself, why did the band wait for Jeff. Well according to Neil Grusky, there was no one as good as Jeff. And that might be true, but was it worth it? Probably not as the band never really took off and never found success with or without Jeff. Without a full commitment from Jeff and the band not finding another singer, they were really destined for nothing.

Three years after the release of their second album, ‘Taste of Heaven’, the new album ‘Blind in Paradise’ was finally released. The band consisted of Jeff Scott Soto on vocals, Neal Grusky on guitar, Carl Demarco on bass, Eric Rango on keyboards and Robert Duda on drums. The band continued their AOR sound and being 1998, it is a very dated sound for even that time as this album reeks of the 80’s. I’m not saying that is a bad thing…it just isn’t really a good thing.

My copy is a cool one I think as I have the Japanese version. It comes with the prized OBI strip and even a postcard to join their MVP Supporting Club. The booklet is half in English and half in Japanese which better than getting two separate books. It also has two bonus tracks and that is really why we want the Japanese Edition is those bonus tracks. If you look at the song titles, you see a lot of numbers or letters replacing words. Soto is huge fan of Prince and Prince did that a lot so Soto thought if it was good enough for Prince, it is good enough for him. Now, enough about this version, let us get to the music.

The album opens with “Take U Down” which has an almost Asia-like keyboard opener. It is a heavy rocker and has a whole 80’s AOR vibe like all the songs. But it is one of the better tracks on the album. Soto’s vocals are always spot on and it does have a great solo by Neal. “Your Love 2Night” is more of the same. This one is a little more upbeat and doesn’t really give us anything new but still a respectable track even if chorus is repeated too many times. You will find the songs on here are good, but not really great. Most are missing that little something extra to make them better.

“Fly 2 Your Arms” gives us more great vocals by Jeff and more great guitar work by Neal. The big difference here is there is a little more keyboards (which dates it). Again, sounds the same overall as the previous songs. I feel I’m starting to repeat myself and I’m only three songs in so not a good sign. “Love is Gone” is more of a power ballad lacking any heart or any real power. “What Do U Want From Me” is another melodic rocker following the same generic formula. Then with “Time Waits 4 No One” you get a pretty good opening guitar riff which is nice, but it ends up in the same place as all the others, mediocre-ville. Not a fun place to be.

The title track is up next, “Blind in Paradise”. This one had a little more “umph” to it. The title track should be one of the standout tracks and this one is no different. It is a solid rocker, with a great chorus with some good harmonies. Although it isn’t that different from the rest, there is a little more energy and excitement to it and I’ll take it at this point because it is needed. Plus, I like the solo in it as well. “Don’t Wanna Be Alone” opens slowly with some soft guitars and an airy sound and then Jeff being giving as much emotion as he can. This ballad has a little more heart than the prior one. There is a nice bass line through out giving it a nice little groove which was done by Bob Daisley (Ozzy Osbourne). There is also a violin by Bernie Tavis which is a really nice touch. Not too bad overall.

“No Love’s Enough” brings back the rock and could be a Survivor song. A high energy rocker with a contagious chorus sung in a higher register as Jeff gives it his all. A little different than the other tracks. The back half of the album is picking up. “Lookin’ Out” brings me back to reality as the same ol’ same ol’ rears its ugly head again. It is a rocking track, but the standard fare…nothing more, nothing less. The final track on the regular album is “Say U’ll Stay” which is borderline ballad and soft rocker. But it doesn’t nothing for me, sadly.

The Japanese edition has two bonus tracks and first up is the Van Halen cover of “Dance the Night Away” and it is awesome. Jeff can handle Roth’s vocals with ease. It has the opening cowbell and the great riff, it is a cover that sticks to the original’s essence. Funny thing is it is one of my favorite tracks on this album and it is the bonus track. Next up is “Always Be Mine” which is a cappella track with hand claps and an old school vibe to it. The harmonies are great and it is like nothing else on the album. I love it!! Short and Sweet!!

Track Listing:

  1. Take U Down – Keeper
  2. Your Love 2night – Keeper (1/2 Point)
  3. Fly 2 Your Arms – Keeper (1/2 Point)
  4. Love Is Gone – Delete
  5. What Do U Want From Me – Delete
  6. Time Waits 4 No One – Delete
  7. Blind in Paradise – Keeper
  8. Don’t Wanna Be Alone – Keeper 
  9. No Love’s Enough – Keeper 
  10. Lookin’ Out – Delete
  11. Say U’ll Stay – Delete
  12. Dance the Night Away (Bonus Track) – Keeper
  13. Always Be Mine (Bonus Track) – Keeper

The Track Score is 7 of 13 Tracks or 54%.  There is really nothing wrong with this album. Jeff’s vocals are always great and the songs are good. It has a great AOR/Melodic Rock sound and if you are fan of that, you might like this one.  The problem for me is most of the songs sound the same, are a little dull at times and don’t excite me in any way. The minute I hear them, I completely forget about them when the next song plays. The songs don’t stick in my head and that is never a good thing.  I listened to it in the car several times and could never really pay attention.  My Overall Score is 2.5 out of 5.0 Stars as it is an average album at best. However, if you are a Jeff Scott Soto fan, you have to have it in your collection.

Now, this was a hard review for me to write as I couldn’t come up with different descriptions to write about the songs so it was a dreadful writing experience. It was a hard plod through this one.

UP NEXT: TALISMAN – ‘TRUTH’ (1998)

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. The Boogie Knights – ‘Welcome to the Jungle Boogie’ (1997)
  32. Takara – ‘Blind in Paradise’ (1998)
  33. Talisman – ‘Truth’ (1998)
  34. ‘Rock Star: Music from the Motion Picture (Soundtrack)’ – Various Artists (2001)
  35. Humanimal – ‘Humanimal’ (2002)
  36. Jeff Scott Soto – ‘Holding On E.P.’ (2002)
  37. Jeff Scott Soto – ‘Prism’ (2002)
  38. Talisman – ‘Live at Sweden Rock Festival’ (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)
  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

21 thoughts on “Takara – ‘Blind in Paradise’ (1998) – Album Review (The Jeff Scott Soto Series)

      1. Enjoy the Rock Candy albums. I’m up to 27. They’ve done a great job with their remasters. The liner notes are top notch too. I love that I’ve discovered “new” bands such as Melidian, Strangeways, and John Norum (ex Europe). The three Helix reissues are among my favourites.

        Liked by 1 person

  1. Kinda sucks when a band puts out something and they know its kind of dead in the water but what do ya do? Totally know what you mean by its hard at times to describe songs. I have taken the approach of just focusing on a few tracks as before I would break down the songs but how many times can u say awesome guitar solo without losing your mind? lol

    Liked by 1 person

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