Talisman – ‘Cats & Dogs’ (2003) – Album Review (The Jeff Scott Soto Series)

With Jeff Scott Soto on Frontiers records, it made total sense that if Talisman was to get back together and put out another album, Frontiers might be the home for them. And that is what happened. After the break-up of the Humanimal project, Jeff and Marcel Jacob felt it was time to put on the Talisman hat again. However, with the falling out with Pontus Norgren, a new guitarist was needed. That new guitarist was actually the old guitarist Fredrik Akesson which is a perfect fit for the band. Mr. Jamie Borger was back on drums and the new album of the old guard was ready to be recorded.

The band recorded the album in Italy (why not since that was where the label was located). It was recorded at Planet Studios in Acqui Terme, Italy. The album saw the release on May 12, 2003. It was this album that I discovered the band thanks to Melodicrock.com. Andrew McNeice was going on and on about this guy Jeff Scott Soto and Talisman. As a result, I checked it out and then things went nuts from there. After almost 20 years now of listening to Soto and Talisman, I now have over 70 albums in my collection that Soto performs on. It all started with ‘Cats & Dogs’ and Soto’s next solo album ‘Lost in Translation’ which we will review next. This was my entry point into the universe of Soto.

With a “Hey, Hey, Hey” and a Soto scream, the album is off and running with “Skin on Skin”. It is a little funky, a little bluesy and a lot of energy. A modern rock track with its foundation firmly rooted in the past. What a way to say…”We’re back!!!”. And then Jeff does his best James Brown with a “Good God, Yeah” to kick off “Break it Down”. With some heavy bass and then a slick riff, some great harmonies and we are off to the races. It has a great, memorable chorus, great production and more fantastic vocals from Soto. Plus, Akesson’s solo is pretty sweet and his playing is a highlight on this one for sure.

“In Make Believe” it kicks off with Soto’s smooth vocals, some guitar picking before the drums coming roaring in with that funky thundering bass. They keep things moving with this melodic rocker. Borger’s timing and rhythm with that tribal sounding drum beat is killer and no denying Jacob’s bass work as it is always stellar. And Fredrik is definitely showing off now as each solo gets more incredible…damn…I’m glad he’s back!! Marcel Jacob’s funked up bass work is at it again with “Love Will Come Again” as they slow things down here and give us a groovetastic track. Soto’s vocals, both lead and backing, are a little understated and not as powerful giving us a different look and a cool track.

“Outta My Way” is a pure rocker which opens with a killer Jacob bass solo…think “No, No, No” from Kiss except on bass. Borger’s drumming is brutal and will leave you concussed. Jeff’s vocals are aggressive, angry and totally perfect. And the back & forth between the guitar and bass during the solo is worth hearing. The heaviest track on the album is an assault on your senses and worth every pounding second. “Friends to Stranger” is another rocker, with a cool, interesting opening that is hard to describe…some cool effects on the guitar and bass I guess. There is a chugging rhythm to it that is held throughout. A little monotonous at times though. A funky song though and very different then the rest…which is a good thing.

“Sorry” is up next and it is as melodic as they come. The band slows it down with a ballad that would’ve played nicely back in the day of ballads. Soto’s vocals seemed to have been created for ballads as his smooth vocals feel right at home. A little cheesy at times, but still a solid ballad. “Trapped” is again more funky bass and another rocker. This one doesn’t do anything for me, yes, I can sometimes not care for a song. The chorus is so-so and I feel we’ve heard it before.

“M.O.M.” is up next and it is solid rocker. M.O.M. stands for My Own Misery. The chorus is catchy and pretty great, however the verses are a little boring at times as they seem to be missing a little something. Still that chorus saves it from being a dud. Then we get to “Wherever, Whenever, Whoever” and things are back on track. A slick bass opening again, but not the same old, same old. Marcel’s bass is the driving thing throughout the song. Jeff’s vocals are again so melodic and smooth as he is built for this type of song. The song is a slowed down track, but doesn’t feel like a weepy ballad, only a slower rocker.

“Lost in the Wasteland” opens with an eerie riff from Akesson. The song is on the heavier side, definitely a more metal riff. There is a seriousness to the sonics and Jeff’s vocals match that tone. The chorus is catchy and then breaks right back into that dark, ominous riff. A cool track. Plus, I love the shoutout to earlier Talisman with the “Blissful Garden” line. Then things get even more different with “Hell in Paradise”. Another metal track, gloomy and evil sounding. The band is taking you to the dark side with this one. The title alone is menacing. I like the variety they are bringing and keeping things interesting.

Track Listing:

  1. Skin on Skin – Keeper
  2. Break It Down – Keeper
  3. In Make Believe – Keeper
  4. Love Will Come Again – Keeper 
  5. Outta My Way – Keeper
  6. Friends to Stranger – Keeper (1/2 Point)
  7. Sorry – Keeper
  8. Trapped – Delete
  9. M.O.M. – Keeper (1/2 Point)
  10. Wherever, Whenever, Whoever – Keeper
  11. Lost in the Wasteland – Keeper
  12. Hell in Paradise – Keeper

The Track Score is 10 out of 12 Tracks or 83%.  The band is back after a 5 year hiatus between albums and they haven’t slowed down.  They might even be stronger than before. It was awesome to have Fredrik Akesson back in the fold (not that I didn’t like Pontus Norgren).  Marcel’s bass is still is stellar as ever, Jamie’s drumming is still impressive and Jeff…well…Jeff is always flawless.  This was a great introduction for me in to the band and made me a fan ever since.  It’s not their best as I soon found out, but it still holds a special place in my heart.  My Overall Score is a 4.0 out of 5.0 Stars as the rockers on here are stellar with “Outta My Way”, “Skin on Skin” and “Break It Down”.  The production work was some of their best as well as the album sounded fantastic.  Going on Frontiers was a great thing for the band!

UP NEXT: JEFF SCOTT SOTO – BELIEVE IN ME E.P. (2004)

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. 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 – ‘Believe in Me E.P.’ (2004)
  42. Jeff Scott Soto – ‘Lost in the Translation’ (2004)
  43. Jeff Scott Soto – ‘Live at the Queen Convention 2003’ (2004)
  44. Talisman – ‘Five Men Live’ (2005)
  45. Soul Sirkus – ‘World Play’ (2005)
  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

11 thoughts on “Talisman – ‘Cats & Dogs’ (2003) – Album Review (The Jeff Scott Soto Series)

  1. Hmmm by the time you get to 75 u Soto will be at 90!
    Good ol Frontiers. Wonder how many albums they have put out as a a label as I recall one Friday they had I think 20 or something acts putting out stuff

    Liked by 1 person

      1. ha I thought it was 40-100 records a month lol
        I remember asking Andy about how the promotion works for Frontiers as there seems to be none after the release comes out

        Like

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