By 1998, Jeff Scott Soto and Marcel Jacob thought it was time to bring Talisman back together and record a new album. Jamie Borger was brought back, of course, on drums and a new guitarist was found in Pontus Norgren (The Poodles, Hammerfall). The only problem is that Jeff was so busy with The Boogie Knights, they had to record in the States. Jeff had a home studio so he and Marcel spent about 10 days writing new material which then band then recorded in Jeff’s home studio. The drums, however, were not as they needed a better set-up so they were recorded elsewhere.
They found a couple record labels to release the album, Point Music in Europe and Pony Canyon in Japan. However, neither label wanted to promote the material so no touring was actually done which is nuts. The album was released on December 27, 1998 and that date alone should tell you how much the labels gave a crap about that album because who in their right mind releases an album 2 days after Christmas.
The band’s sound on this album was a nod to earlier Talisman where they tried to capture a little of the sound from the first two albums. They also ended up recording 3 cover songs on the album and actually opened the album with a cover song. I’ve heard Jeff describe this album as their ‘Diver Down’ album (which also had a lot of covers).
If you notice the pictures of the cover (front & back) and the disc, you can tell how crappy the pictures are and that is because the version I have is actually an unofficial version released in 2003 from Russia. I wasn’t paying attention when I bought it, I just bought it for the fact it had so many tracks on it and it was a little cheaper than some copies on eBay. Either way, the sound is still pretty good and I didn’t know any better. Maybe someday I’ll go get the official version. Before we move on to the music, let’s talk Soto’s hair. Soto has always had huge locks of curls and they were massive. Notice the picture below and that short hair cut…it doesn’t look right. I am speculating, but I believe it is because he was doing The Boogie Knights and wearing a giant afro wig each night so it was easier to do with short hair. Okay, enough crap…let’s get to the music…
The album kicks off with the Queen cover of “Let Me Entertain You” which was Jeff’s idea. He really loves Queen (as we will see in future posts) and thought this song would be great to kick off a live show. Well, they ended up letting it kick off the album. And let me tell you , it kicks off the album with a massive bang. They stay true to the Queen essence, but it is all Talisman with Marcel’s thumping bass leading the charge. Soto does his best Freddie Mercury and kills it. A fun song to start it all off.
“In The End” comes out of the gate swinging with an explosive start. More heavy bass work and Jeff attacking the lyrics. It is very melodic, a little on the heavier side and it has a quick keyboard solo before Pontus comes ripping roaring in with the guitar in between the keyboard parts. On keyboard is Frank Salerno. Another high energy kick ass track.
Then we get “Here 2Day, Gone 2Day” (notice the Prince style naming convention). This is a much darker song and is based on some true life events. It is about some fellow musicians that are not to be named (and not Lord Voldemort) which leads me to think it is about Yngwie. I love the serious, very metal tone to it and it really captures your attention and draws you in trying to decipher it. One of the best tracks on the album in part thanks to another rip roaring solo by Pontus.
Then we get another cover song and this time around it is Prince’s “Darling Nikki”. As we already know, Jeff is also a massive Prince fan so no surprise here other than the song selection. Damn, great track to cover. This song was supposed to be on the ‘Life’ album but scrapped. The song isn’t as funky as Prince’s version as it is more rocked out. Jeff does a great job on vocals, but honestly, he ain’t Prince (sorry Jeff…I still love you though). All I know is this song is a total blast and the band has fun with it and that is all that matters.
“I’ll Be There 4 U” is up next and feels like a Survivor song from the ‘Too Hot To Sleep’ album with the guitar sound. It slows things down a little or maybe it is less rock is all. Mid-tempo and more pop sounding. Jeff’s vocals are melodic and Marcel’s bass with Jamie’s drums gives us a driving groove. Not as exciting as the first four tracks, but still a good enough song with a definite 80’s pop/rock sound.
“The Man I’ll Never Be” is a personal song for Jeff as it is about his relationship with his dad and his relationship with his own son. Starts off much slower and you can tell it means a lot to him. The chorus picks up the pace and gives more of a punch than back to the slower verses. Jeff even has a speaking verse before Pontus comes in on the guitar to lay down a riveting solo.
Then we get an instrumental with “Bellabecca” and it looks like it was written by Soto based on the liner notes. Soto’s a singer, how does he write a solo…well good for him. It is done on keyboards and even some synth string arrangements included. It is light and airy, almost new age as it feels you are flying through a field of flowers with the wind blowing through your hair. It is okay, but nothing too exciting and not really necessary.
“Heaven’s Got Another Hero” is also keyboard based in the opener before the band comes in after a few lines. Again, more pop than rock and feels like Journey this time around with lots of harmonies and a little cheesy for me at times.
Next up is “Your Man” which is about Jeff’s wife (at the time). They keep the soft side going and the keyboards are getting their money’s worth with these batch of songs. It goes upbeat with a whole jazzy piano man vibe. You tap your foot and bop your head. It isn’t like anything else on the album that is for sure.
Then we get the third and final cover with Madonna’s “Frozen”. Another odd choice, but one Marcel brought to the table. I think he believed Jeff would balk at it, but Jeff was all for it. They take the song and add a whole rock vibe to it and I have to admit, it is quite awesome. Marcel’s bass work adds a lot to the song and Jeff’s vocals suit it perfectly. Some great melodies and the band makes you forget it is a Madonna track.
“Until the Morning Comes” is a little funkier as Marcel really jams up the bass. Still on the softer side and not that heavy as a rock song, but Jeff’s vocals soar and really are enjoyable. The chorus has layers of vocals which make it inviting and is a pretty good track overall.
Then we finally get back to the rock with a great opening riff on “Angel/Devil”. The chorus is really contagious and it is another highlight. Jamie’s drumming is fantastic with some great fills and Pontus really lays down a nice solo. Give me more of this please.
“Pavilion of Oblivion” kicks off with some massive drum beats and then more great fills by Jamie accompanied by Marcel racing up and down his bass. Soto sounds great as usual and another great solo. It has everything here to like, but I can never remember this song after it’s done, sadly. I want to like it.
Then we get a song about Jeff’s dog, “Madison”. Now of course, you could take it as a relationship with a girl the way it is written, but it is Jeff’s dog. There is a whole Middle Eastern vibe to kick off the song before it starts to rock out. I like Pontus’ riff on this one as well. There is a dark, ominous feel to it and it is really cool. But if you listen to the lyrics knowing it is his dog, it is almost laughable which is totally awesome. I really like what they did here.
The final track is a bonus track which is an instrumental called “T 4 1 1/2” and I wish I knew what that meant. This is a Marcel penned solo which I would expect since he writes all the music (most of it anyway). The bass isn’t as heavy as I would’ve expected, but the guitar is really the highlight. There is a dual guitar sound going at times, a piano thrown in for good measure, but the guitar is king. It is nice and short and doesn’t overstay its welcome.
- Let Me Entertain You – Keeper
- In the End – Keeper
- Here 2Day, Gone 2Day – Keeper
- Darling Nikki – Keeper
- I’ll B There 4 U – Keeper (1/2 Point)
- The Man I’ll Never Be – Keeper
- Bellabecca (Instrumental) – Delete
- Heaven’s Got Another Hero – Keeper (1/2 Point)
- Your Man – Delete
- Frozen – Keeper
- Until the Morning Comes – Keeper
- Angel/Devil – Keeper
- Pavilion of Oblivion – Delete
- Madison – Keeper
- T 4 1 1/2 (Instrumental – Bonus Track) – Keeper
The Track Score is 11 out of 15 Tracks or 73%. I am thrilled to get Talisman back with a new album. I will admit it isn’t great as the first 4 albums, but there are still a ton of great songs on here. There is something special when Jeff and Marcel get together to do “Talisman”. Their other stuff together was good, but you can’t beat the magic that is Talisman. Even with 3 cover songs, it is still a solid album. It might be a little long at 15 tracks (14 since one is a bonus track) and would’ve scored way better with a 10 song set. But this is the late 90’s and it was the thing to do to jam as many songs as the CD could hold. I think they had too many softer songs and would’ve been better on the heavy, but the songs that were good, were really good on this one like “Here 2Day, Gone 2Day” and “Angel/Devil” to name a couple. My Overall Score is still respectable at 3.5 out of 5.0 Stars. A lot of albums would want that score.
UP NEXT: ROCK STAR SOUNDTRACK (2001)
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)
- The Boogie Knights – ‘Welcome to the Jungle Boogie’ (1997)
- Takara – ‘Blind in Paradise’ (1998)
- Talisman – ‘Truth’ (1998)
- ‘Rock Star (Soundtrack)’ – Various Artists (2001)
- Humanimal – ‘Humanimal’ (2002)
- Humanimal – Find My Way Home: Limited Edition E.P. (2002)
- Jeff Scott Soto – ‘Holding On E.P.’ (2002) – Bonus Edition
- Jeff Scott Soto – ‘Prism’ (2002)
- Talisman – ‘Live at Sweden Rock Festival’ (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