Jeff Scott Soto – ‘Essential Ballads’ (2006) – Album Review

Jeff has only had 3 solo albums up to this point, a couple E.P.’s and that is about it. Yet, we get an entire album of ballads from those releases. Yes, only from his solo albums which leaves out a bunch of great ones from other bands he has been in, but that is okay. This is more than enough. Now, I have no idea whose idea this was…maybe Frontiers Records and maybe Jeff’s which would not be a surprise since when he sang with Axel Rudi Pell, Axel put out entire ballad collections as well. Whatever reason, this is a lot of ballads to take in all at once.

The one good thing about this release is they did add 3 bonus tracks, 2 of which have never been released, so that is always a good thing. That is 16 songs…all ballads…did I mention that it is a lot of a ballads to take in all at once. However, there isn’t a ton of information on the background of this release, so that is all I have for you. As a result, we might as well go through all the songs.

First up from his latest solo release ‘Lost in the Translation’, we get “If This is The End”. It starts off with some slow tempo guitar picking and then Jeff’s vocals softly, yet smoothly float over the verses. Around the 2nd verse, the drums kick in and some electric guitar riffs tossed in. It does pick up a little on the tempo and when it hits that second chorus Jeff’s vocals soar to new heights. Not one of his best ballads, but I like it as it does have a decent solo and is more proof that Jeff can do it all.

Next up is “As I Do 2 U” from his E.P. ‘Believe In Me’. This track is a demo (one of two on here) from a project that never got off the ground called Three Kings. It had Jamie Borger (drummer for Talisman) and Goran Elmquist. It is an acoustic ballad and being a demo, it feels unfinished but it isn’t half bad. A little cheesy, but there are elements there that could’ve turned in to something nice.

“Holding On” is up next and comes from his 2002 solo album ‘Prism’. It opens with keyboards and then Soto joins in and sings so heartfelt and tenderly. As the full band kicks in the song picks up momentum and turns in to a sort of power ballad. It has some great harmonies, some nice guitar work and overall is a great showcase for his vocals.

One of the highlights on here is a cover of Journey’s “Send Her My Love”. The song was previously released only on his E.P. ‘Holding On’ from 2002. With this song, you see why Neal Schon worked with Jeff and brought in him to sing with Journey for a brief time. Soto’s range is amazing and there are not too many that can hold their own singing a Steve Perry song, but he does a stellar job. When I heard this song back in 2002, I think it helped cement my passion for his music. His vocals are so smooth and slick and his range is incredible as those high notes are flawless. An amazing job.

Another track from the ‘Believe in Me’ E.P. is “Lonely Shade of Blue”. The song was from another project Jeff worked on for years called Slam and nothing was ever released. I have to say, I really like this one. It is acoustic, shocker, and it feels like it was from the late 80’s, early 90’s (and probably was recorded back then). Very Danger Danger like to me. But it is the chorus and Jeff’s vocals that are the winner. Very contagious, very catchy and memorable. Jeff’s vocals are all falsetto and smooth as silk. And there is a saxophone added for good measure (not very Danger Danger like). On a side note, Jeff did record this song with his band Takara during the 90’s.

The second Three Kings demo is called “This Ain’t the Love” and yes, acoustic. Some nice echo added to Jeff’s vocals for dramatic effect at certain times. A more serious sounding song and less cheesy. A very soft, tender hearted track and with a little work could be something special. Around two minutes, Jamie’s drums come in the song gets a little punchier. A nice track. As like several other tracks on here, it is from the ‘Believe in Me’ E.P.

Next up is “Don’t Wanna Say Goodbye” from ‘Prism’ and it has lots of keyboards. Nothing new to say except maybe a little cheesier and cliched then others. It has that power build at the chorus and is your cookie-cutter track. Not one of my favorites.

One of Jeff’s idols is Prince and he goes full on Prince-mode with “4 U”. It sounds like an old school R&B track but with the whole thing sang as Prince when he does that falsetto. Jeff also has some sultry speaking lines thrown in to turn it in to a sexy and sultry track and I swear at times it sounds like Prince singing. This is another track from his former band Slam and it was originally released on his debut solo album ‘Love Parade’ from 1994.

This next one was written with Ricky Phillips of The Baby’s & Bad English. The song was a demo for Jeff’s project with Ricky called Ku De Ta. The song is “Still Be Loving You”. Another acoustic track but this one has a very flamenco vibe to the guitar playing. A very dramatic feel to it and it might the best ballad (not my favorite, but honestly the best one). The guitar picking is really exceptional by both Marcus Nand and Ricky. Really beautiful.

“Til the End of Time” from the album ‘Prism’ is back to the piano/keyboard type of a power ballad. It is a little overly dramatic as it is trying to pull at the heart strings. When the power kicks in, the song lifts up to more a rocker, however, still has that tenderness in the vocals. Jeff sounds great…but more of the same.

Now we get the acoustic masterpiece, “Sacred Eyes” from the ‘Lost in the Translation’ album. It has a co-write with Gary Schutt and his guitar work on here is the star next to those incredible Soto vocals. Jeff lays it all out there and no denying the power in that voice. When it is time for his vocals to be front and center, he never fails. Glen Sobel is on the drums and his percussion work is the back drop that holds everything together. One of my favorite tracks on the that album and this one.

Up next is “By Your Side” (from ‘Prism’) and is another acoustic song and Jeff’s vocals are freaking unbelievable on this one. His vocals are so smooth and delivery is effortlessly. The harmonies are sick and the sonics of the song are so different than the other ballads on the album. Really slick and stunning especially the acoustic work which was done by Jody Whitesides and Howie Simon.

“Beginning 2 End” is the next ballad and this one is accompanied by a piano (by Mr. Soto himself). His vocals are tender and heartfelt. The chorus builds and is a little more explosive. Guitar work is handled by Alex Llorens and is minimal, yet effective and that solo is perfect for the song and not all flashy. Glen Sobel’s drum give the song enough punch to be effective without being overbearing. This one was from ‘Lost in the Translation’.

Then we get the bonus tracks and all are previously unreleased. First is “Through It All” and it was written by Styx’s Ricky Phillips. It is an acoustic piece, with a classical guitar sound and some really nice percussion. Jeff sings it as well as you’d expect. My issue with it is, it is pretty sugary sweet. So sweet, you’ll get a toothache. It isn’t my favorite track on here, but I will always take unreleased tracks regardless.

The 2nd one is “Last Mistake” and is my favorite of the bonuses and one of my favorites on the whole disc. An upbeat ballad, some great harmonies and a fun sounding track. I find the chorus really sticks with you and gets inside your head and won’t come out. Yes, it is cheesy, but this time around I’m good with it.

Last is the song “Another Try” and starts off with an a cappella line or two before the guitar kicks in. A whole lot of harmonies on the chorus, and it is catchy and all, but it is another sugary sweet track. Very generic and bland for my liking and you don’t have to like them all…this is why it was a bonus track most likely.

And that is it…whew! That is a lot a ballads to take in all at once. You really have to really be in the mood for this one. There are some so-so ballads on here, but there are also some choice ones too. No denying Jeff’s talent and his vocal abilities are not matched by many. A few on here are some of my favorite ballads period and that Journey cover nothing short of amazing. But it is still a lot of ballads. If I have to score, which I do because that is why I’m here, My Overall Score is a 3.5 out of 5.0 Stars. This is still a must have for the Soto collection, but which ones aren’t!!

UP NEXT: JOURNEY – ‘LIVE FROM ATLANTA (BOOTLEG)’ (2006)

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. Humanimal – Find My Way Home: Limited Edition E.P. (2002)
  37. Jeff Scott Soto – ‘Holding On E.P.’ (2002)
  38. Jeff Scott Soto – ‘Prism’ (2002)
  39. Talisman – ‘Live at Sweden Rock Festival’ (2002)
  40. Jeff Scott Soto – ‘JSS Live at the Gods 2002’ (2003)
  41. Talisman – ‘Cats & Dogs’ (2003)
  42. Jeff Scott Soto – ‘Believe in Me E.P.’ (2004
  43. Jeff Scott Soto – ‘Lost in the Translation’ (2004)
  44. Jeff Scott Soto – ‘Live at the Queen Convention 2003’ (2004)
  45. Soul SirkUS – ‘World Play’ (2004/2005)
  46. Talisman – ‘Five Men Live’ (2005)
  47. Talisman – ‘World’s Best Kept Secret DVD (2005)
  48. Jeff Scott Soto – ‘Essential Ballads’ (2006)
  49. Journey – ‘Live from Atlanta (Bootleg)’ (2006)
  50. Talisman – ‘7’ (2006)
  51. Talisman – The Albums Ranked from Worst to First
  52. Jeff Scott Soto – ‘B-Sides’ (2006)
  53. Redlist – ‘Ignorance’ (2007)
  54. Jeff Scott Soto – ‘Beautiful Mess’ (2009)
  55. Jeff Scott Soto – “21st Century” / “Gin & Tonic Sky” CD Single (2009) – Bonus Edition
  56. Jeff Scott Soto – ‘One Night in Madrid’ (2009)
  57. Trans-Siberian Orchestra – ‘Night Castle’ (2009)
  58. W.E.T. – ‘W.E.T.’ (2009)
  59. Jeff Scott Soto – ‘Live at Firefest 2008’ (2010)
  60. Jeff Scott Soto – ‘Damage Control’ (2012)
  61. W.E.T. – ‘Rise’ (2013)
  62. W.E.T. – ‘One Live in Stockholm’ (2014)
  63. Jeff Scott Soto – The Authorized Biography (2014)
  64. SOTO – ‘Inside the Vertigo’ (2015)
  65. Joel Hoekstra’s 13 – Dying to Live (2015)
  66. SOTO – ‘Divak’ (2016)
  67. Jeff Scott Soto – ‘Retribution’ (2017)
  68. Sons of Apollo – ‘Psychotic Symphony’ (2017)
  69. W.E.T. – ‘Earthrage’ (2018)
  70. SOTO – ‘Origami’ (2019)
  71. Sons of Apollo – ‘Live With the Plovdiv Psychotic Symphony’ (2019)
  72. Jeff Scott Soto – ‘Wide Away (In My Dreamland)’ (2020)
  73. Jeff Scott Soto – ‘Live and Loud in Milan 2019’ (2020)
  74. Sons of Apollo – ‘MMXX’ (2020)
  75. SOTO – ‘Revision’ (2020)
  76. W.E.T. – ‘Retransmission’ (2021)
  77. Jeff Scott Soto – ‘The Duets Collection, Vol. 1’ (2021)
  78. Jeff Scott Soto – ‘Complicated’ (2022)
  79. Ellefson/Soto – ‘Vacation in the Underground’ (2022)
  80. Jeff Scott Soto / Jason Bieler – Live In Concert (2022) – Bonus Edition

49 thoughts on “Jeff Scott Soto – ‘Essential Ballads’ (2006) – Album Review

            1. They were parodying the writer’s strike at the time. In the episode, Canada went on strike from the world. They got nothing out of it but a few coupons, so they set their leaders adrift.

              Liked by 1 person

  1. So is Jeff Scott Soto doing an interview with you? He’s aware of the series as I understand it from you. I’m sure he appreciates the support of such a high profile Hollywood actor.

    Liked by 1 person

                    1. I think because we were able to dig deep into his childhood with some emotional answers, you’ll never find a better Laine interview than ours. I sincerely believe that. We did that!

                      Liked by 1 person

  2. Yeah I’m with you and everyone else – that’s a lot of ballads for one sitting. He has done some awesome ones so the proposition isn’t a waste of time or anything, but all one after the other might be a bit much for me.

    Liked by 1 person

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