The band’s 18th Studio album was a long time in the making. The work started back in 2011 as they were throwing around ideas for new projects to do. One of those ideas was to go through their old catalog and find unreleased songs. Songs that dated back their heyday. The found enough songs to fit 3 CDs and then those CDs were sent to the producers, Mikael Nord Andersson and Martin Hansen. From their the band kept narrowing down and I believe in 2012, the recorded demos of around 12 of those songs and had intentions of recordings 6 more to give them 18 to choose from. The goal was to end up with 12-15 tracks from the unreleased tracks to use for an album.
Well, one thing led to another and they also worked on new songs as well. All in all, by the time the album came out, between new tracks and old tracks, they actually ended up with 19 tracks that have been released for the album. The standard edition only had 12, which is what we have here with the Vinyl. However, the US Deluxe Edition actually has all 19 songs so no need getting the Japanese Edition for this one. That is a ton of songs to sit through which is why I am focusing on the vinyl edition and keeping it simple.
Jeff Scott Soto has been around for over 30 years now and he started out singing for some heavy bands like Yngwie Malmsteen and Axel Rudi Pell. Then he was more melodic with bands like Talisman, Eyes and W.E.T. and he evened funked things up with his solo albums on occasion, but he has always liked the heavy stuff. For his next project, it wasn’t another solo album, but instead it was a new metal band called SOTO. Hmmm…where did he come up with that name? Jeff has said this is a working band and not a side project and will be around for a long while and there is definitely a band. In SOTO are of course, Jeff, but you also get Jorge Salan on guitars, BJ on guitars and keys, David Z (Of ZO2) on bass and Edu Cominato on drums.
However, there are so many guests and extra musicians on this album, that I’m not sure you can really count this as a band album as the “band” isn’t on every song. Now, that doesn’t take away from anything on the album, I’m just saying I don’t really see this particular SOTO album as a band more of as a project. The album came out on January 30, 2015, but I don’t see a physical release of the album in the States so they only had digital. My copy of the album is actually from Mexico and is a digipack. No bonus or nothing extra, but I will take what I can get. Let’s jump right and get in to the meat of it all as the music is why we are here.
The first track is “Final Say” and it is written by Jeff Scott Soto and Adrenaline Mob member Mike Orlando who does all the instruments on this song (see, no band members but JSS). And like I said above, that doesn’t take away from the music as this song kicks some major ass. The guitars are heavy, the drums are thunderous and Soto is aggressive and lethal with the vocals. An explosive opening that tells you right away this is a heavier, darker JSS and I’m all for it.
The Scorpions have really had a new life since their farewell tour. With a new album, ‘Comeblack’ which had them re-record old hits and some covers, the band was having a good time again. So, when MTV approached them about doing an MTV Unplugged, they jumped at the chance. They put a lot of work in to re-arranging the songs for an acoustic setting as you can tell from the “Making of Documentary” on the DVD on this release. The band actually didn’t really wanted to play their hits, but dig deep. With pushback coming from either the label or MTV (I forget which), they agreed to do some of their hits, but they also went deep and even brought in some new songs specifically for this set. The setlist is one of the highlights as we get old school Scorpions, 80’s heyday and even songs from today. It spans their career in what a good setlist should do.
The recorded 25 songs and performed at MTV’s first outdoor unplugged show and they couldn’t have chosen a more beautiful spot than high a top a mountain at the Lycabettus Theatre in Athens , Greece. It was recorded over 2 nights on September 11 and 12, 2013. The release came quick on November 29, 2013 and I think the U.S. got it later. Let’s get out the one bad thing about the US version. The US Version is only 1 CVD and not a full show. The DVD that comes with it has the full show, but the CD does not. I am not sure why the rest of the world had a 2 CD full show option and we didn’t, but it is what it is. So, I am reviewing the DVD, full show set.
The full band is there and front and center are Klaus Meine, Rudolf Schenker and Mathais Jabs. The other two guys are slightly behind them with James Kottak on drums and Pawel Maciwoda on bass. But they weren’t alone, wow! There is a lot of extra help on the stage including a string ensemble, an extra percussionist with Pitti Hecht and then Mikael Nord Andersson, Ola Hjelm, Ingo Powitzer and Martin Hansen all on guitar (plus Mathias & Rudolf). And that wasn’t all, you also got Hans Gardemar on piano and accordion plus several surprise guest vocalists. It is a full house and one hell of a party.
You, my reader, are going to pick an album for me to review each month. It is really simple…first, I will give you 5 albums to choose from and second, you will tell me which one of those you would like to see reviewed on the site. See…simple! Now, if you want to cast more than one vote, comment on the Twitter and Facebook post and you could get up to 3 votes on your favorite pick.
The choices are simple, I pick 5 albums and lately I’ve been going on a loose theme. This time the theme isn’t loose, it is pretty straight-forward. We are going with 5 albums I have in my collection that are Rock Candy Re-Issues. What are the 5 albums you ask? I have them right here…
Diving for Pearls – ‘Diving for Pearls’(1989)
Blue Murder – ‘Blue Murder’(1989)
Saigon Kick – ‘Saigon Kick’ (1991)
RTZ – ‘Return to Zero’ (1991)
The Scream – ‘Let It Scream’ (1991)
Let me know which one you would like to see and sometime in April, I will post a review of the album that gets the most votes. You have one week to decide and from there I will start listening to the album and do a review.
Following their Farewell tour for the ‘Sting of the Tail’ album, the band decided to release one more album as sort of a comeback, but not. In all the reviews I read on this one, all the reviewers listed as the band’s final album. So, how can it be a comeback if it is the final. That might lie in the name of the album because it is called ‘Comeblack”. So a comeback album but the end at the same time…I don’t know. I’m confused. The band wasn’t confused. The excitement they felt after that tour and all the screaming fans, the success of ‘Sting of the Tail’, all led to the band wanting to do one more and do it for the fans. But as a fan, I don’t remember asking for this.
That wasn’t the only confusing thing about this album. It is sort of a compilation album with 7 songs that are Scorpions classics, but re-recorded and the final 5 songs are cover tunes. No new material here at all. The band wanted to re-record some classics giving them a modern sound with the new production capabilities and they did just that. The cover song choices are a celebration of some of their favorite songs/artists from the 60’s and I will say, they all have that Scorpions sound. But let’s be honest, this is a complete and utter waste of time and energy.
The album was released on November 4, 2011 and in the U.S on January 24, 2012 where the album only sold 5,000 physical copies in its first week and reached #90 on the Billboard 200 chart. Not very impressive. Klaus Meine, Rudolf Schenker, Mathias Jabs, James Kottak and Pawel Maciwoda all returned for this mess…or was it really that bad. I know the album cover was pretty decent which is not something that is normally the case. My copy is a gatefold, 2LP version and the packaging looks fantastic, but it is what is on the inside that matters
The band W.E.T. consisting of Robert Sall (Work of Art), Erik Martensson (Eclipse) and Jeff Scott Soto (Talisman) was originally going to be a one off project. However, the success of their debut and the fun had by the three main guys has turned in to a band. With two albums under their belt, the band hit the road and for only their second show ever as a band, it was captured in video and released as both a Live Double CD and a beautifully filmed DVD. What we get is ‘One Live – In Stockholm’!!
Recorded on January 17, 2013 at a really small club in Stockholm, Sweden called the Debaser Club and the reason behind the small venue is interesting. The guys only were expecting less than 100 people and so they figured a smaller venue would still look full on camera. What they got was hundreds of people and they had to delay the show by an hour to make sure everyone got in that wanted to (and hopefully legally could for fire codes and all). The band’s second album, ‘Rise Up’, hadn’t been released yet, but it was about too so the band had 2 full albums of material to now draw from plus they few in several surprises along the way. And to top it off, the CD version of the show has two bonus tracks of previously unreleased songs from the last album. Now, there is absolutely no reason a fan of this band wouldn’t want it. A live show on 2 CDs, two bonus studio tracks and a DVD of the show…DAMN!! What is not to like about this release.
Alright…You Picked It! This one was never really close. A couple made some last minute moves to catch the leader, but there was no catching this dog as it ended up not even close. The winner this month was The Poodles’ ‘Metal Will Stand Tall’.
The Poodles – ‘Metal Will Stand Tall – 7 votes
Gotthard – ‘Lipservice’ – 3 votes
Jorn – ‘Worldchanger’ – 2 votes
Passion – ‘Passion’ – 2 votes
Reach – ‘The Promise of Life – 1 vote
Thanks to all for participating. The April choices will be up on Saturday! And the choices are all from my collection and the next one will all be focused all on Rock Candy Re-issues. Hopefully you can help me decide which one I should review. And to note, it will be the very last You Pick It! we do hear as there isn’t enough participation to make this worth doing anymore, I’m just going to start pulling from my collection and reviewing on my own going forward. Thanks all for playing along.
THE POODLES – ‘METAL WILL STAND TALL’ (2006):
The Poodles are a Swedish glam/metal band and how I came across them is thanks to two things. First was Melodicrock.com as Andrew McNeice talked about them a lot. The second was the fact that The Poodles had a strong connection to Jeff Scott Soto. Both the lead singer, Jakob Samuel and guitarists Pontus Norgren were in Jeff Scott Soto’s band Talisman. The funny thing is that Jakob was a drummer back then, now he is front and center as a lead singer. Now, what I find interesting is how the Poodles came to being. Jakob was asked to sing the song “Night of Passion” for the Swedish music contest Melodifestivalen in 2006. The winner of this contest goes on to compete in the major contest called Eurovision. Well, Jakob compiled a band together including Pontus Nogren as well as Pontus Egberg on bass and Christian Lundqvist on drums. The band didn’t win, but they did come in fourth which is pretty darn respectable. From there, they went and did an album and here we are.
When you hear The Poodles, you are immediately transferred back to a time when the Glam and Melodic rock scene was at its peak around the world with acts like Bon Jovi and that ilk…well in Sweden that genre never has seemed to die out as they are putting out some great bands with The Poodles leading the charge. The opening track, “Echoes From The Past” comes roaring out of the gate with its pounding drums and gritty guitar riffs. Jakob’s vocals have a grit to them and yet sound so silky smooth and his vocals can soar to the heaven’s. It is full of hooks and harmonies and everything you want in a great rock song.
‘Sting in the Tail’ is Scorpions 17th Studio album. Dang! Not many artist can say they’ve done that many albums. The band was still the usual crew of late with Klaus Meine, Rudolf Schenker, Mathis Jabs, James Kottak and Pawel Maciwoda. They had some new producers this time around with Mikael Nord Andersson and Martin Hansen. They hit the studio in May 2009 and wrapped things up in December 2009. They started with 18 songs and narrowed it down the 12 you see here. Out of the original 18, 5 were actually from their ‘Unbreakable’ Session from a couple albums earlier. Since last album was a concept album, they didn’t fit on that one, but they re-worked them and they ended up on this one. The rest were written strictly for this album. And no covers!!
The album was finally released on March 14, 2010 and it landed at #23 in the U.S. and #2 in their home country of Germany. It saw the band go back to their 80’s sound, but with a modern twist on it so it sounds fresh and not dated. I would say they succeeded with that. At this point, this was suppose to be their last album as they announced their retirement and were doing a farewell tour, I guess you could say. Well, we all know how that turned out as they are still going strong today in 2023.
The biggest problem with this album is that there is too much ROCK! No, No!! Not the music…but the word “ROCK”. That word is in four different song titles on the album. 1/3 of the album. That is a little nuts. To make matters worse, if you look at the back cover, the letters in red spell out “It Rocks”. We get it, we get it…Scorpions rock so you have to use the word rock so people know you are rock & roll…rock, rock, rock…ugh!! Outside of that, there isn’t anything wrong with this record…well, not much anyway. So, let us get to it, shall we.
As I said a few weeks back when I reviewed the 40th Anniversary Super Deluxe Edition Box Set, 1982 was a pivotal year for Kiss. After the disaster of their last album, ‘Music from the Elder’, Kiss were in a do or die situation. They needed to get back to their hard rock roots and show the world that Kiss was still Kiss. Producer Michael James Jackson was brought in to produce the album and Kiss new they needed to rock. Heck, Eric Carr was telling them that all the time…and he was right. To celebrate this pivotal album, Kiss delivered the 40th Anniversary Super Deluxe Edition Box Set, but that set was only CDs (and a lot of goodies). They also released a 3-LP Deluxe Edition Vinyl set to commemorate the album as well. And that is what we will review this time around.
The 3-LP set has the original album remastered, a set of Demos, Rarities and Outtakes and the 3rd LP is a live set with songs taken from various shows. It doesn’t have any where near as much as the box set, but if you have the Super Deluxe, you don’t need that stuff again. This set does have a 20 page booklet as well.
The album is packaged in a tri-fold album jacket with some stunning pictures included. The first two spaces have a large group photo, then on the 3rd tri-fold, you get individual shots of the members on both the front and pack of that section. Although the cover has Ace, these pictures all include Vinnie, who is actually on the album…not all songs, but most.
I was scouring eBay for a few of the remaining Soto albums I don’t have, and sadly, none were for sale at the time. However, I cam across something I had never seen before. It was a bootleg of Jeff Scott Soto demos. And to top it off, it was actually signed by Jeff Scott Soto. The person I bought it from lives in Germany and his name was Stefan. It turns out, Stefan is the lead singer of the band Speed Limit (check them out, they are pretty cool) and he had opened for Soto on a tour and actually met Jeff and got him to sign the CD. I thought all that was pretty cool and I love having a story behind my purchase.
LA ROCKS DEMOS:
So, what is this CD? It is a bootleg, mostly of demos from Jeff’s early years with LA Rocks and with Vinnie Vincent. We never got any albums out of those two projects, but at least we have some demos. The first set of songs say they are from his band LA Rocks. Back in 1986, Aldy Damian approached Jeff about joining the band. Jeff was busy with his own band called L’amour at the time and so he wasn’t really interested in joining LA Rocks. However, he did agree to do a couple demos for them and they paid him, so how could he say no. After Jeff, turned it down, they went after James Christian and he agreed. James became known for his other band House of Lords later.
The project didn’t end up going anywhere and the band later on became known as something you are more familiar with as we have discussed them in this series and that is the band Eyes of which Jeff sang on a couple of their albums. It all comes around full circle in the end. These set of songs here under the LA Rock Demos section, are a mixture of LA Rocks and Eyes demos and some aren’t even either band. The tracks “Hands of Time” and “Heart of the Fire” were demos for songs used on the movie ‘Rich Girl’. The songs “For You”, “Till the End of Time” and “Nobody Said it was Easy” are all demos for the band Eyes. And the song “Hold On”, not really sure where that is from but maybe it is from LA Rocks.