Scorpions – ‘Best of Rockers ‘N’ Ballads’ (1989) – Album Review (The Scorpions Collection Series)

The Scorpions were flying high. From the release of ‘Lovedrive’ in 1979 all the way up to ‘Savage Amusement’ in 1988, they could do no wrong. Their label, Mercury Records, thought, “hey, good time for a greatest hits compilation”…and ‘Best of Rockers ‘N’ Ballads’ was born. Since they have had other compilations focusing on Pre-‘Lovedrive’, Mercury Records released a compilation of only songs that were during the bands tenure on Mercury from 1979-1988. To make it enticing to fans, they added a few new remixes and unreleased tracks and I am a fan of new mixes and unreleased tracks.

The album was released on November 29, 1989 just in time for Christmas. And what a present it was. The album sold over 1,000,000 copies and is the only Scorpions compilation to be certified Platinum. The album went to #43 on the U.S. charts and had one single that went to #5 on the Mainstream Rock Charts. Now, depending on where you were in the world, you got a different track list. The European version had an extra track, “Is There Anybody There” from ‘Lovedrive, but this was a remix and previously unreleased. They also got a remix of “Hey You” which is a Non-Album single from 1980 that hasn’t been released on any album up to this point. The US and Japanese releases did not have either of those tracks, but did have the original version of “Hey You”. The European CD release also included one more rare track. It was the version of “China White” which features the guitar solo that was only available on the US Blackout release. If you are a completist on the Scorpions, you have a lot to buy here.

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Matt Nathanson – ‘Left & Right: Live at Fingerprints / Live at Park Ave.’ E.P. – Album Review

Matt Nathanson is one of my favorite artist and songwriters, if you haven’t noticed by all the stuff I post on here about him. I am not officially doing a series on him, but merely posting all the cool Singles and E.P,’s I have of his. One of those is called ‘Left & Right: Live at Fingerprints. Live at Park Ave’ and it is an E.P. that was released back on August 5, 2008. It was recorded at two separate solo acoustic in store appearances along his 2007-2008 tour for his ‘Some Mad Hope’ album. The shows were the ones at Fingerprints in Long Beach, California (Tracks 1-3 & 7-8) and the other was at Park Ave CDs which I believe is in Orlando, Florida (Tracks 4-6).

What is great about this release is how intimate the shows are. How casual the whole thing is. It is basically Matt and a guitar and the crowd. His banter is pretty hilarious at times like when he curses and then he sees a little kid the crowd and apologizes to the little person, but still goes on with his totally inappropriate banter. He opens with an acoustic performance of the song “Car Crash” which is already an amazing song, but here, it feels so personal and emotional as Matt really digs deep and gives it his all. Quite stunning.

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Talisman – ‘Five Men Live’ (2005) – Album Review (The Jeff Scott Soto Series)

During the early 2000’s, Marcel Jacob came forward and revealed he was suffering from chronic rheumatism and it would limit his live shows. By 2003, he must have felt up to it because the band played several festivals during that Summer and thankfully for us, a lot of those were recorded. Two shows in particular were captured and were finally released by Frontiers Records in 2005. We got a Live CD and then a DVD set. Today, we are talking about the CD set. We’ll do the DVD next time because it has more than just the shows.

The two shows captured were at Club Mondo in Stockholm, Sweden in August 2003 and the second show was from the Sweden Rock Festival from June 2003. This would be the 2nd Sweden Rock Festival live show we’ve been given from the band. The line-up was interesting as the band was usually a 4-piece band. This time we have the return of the great axeman, Fredrik Akesson as Pontus Norgren had left. The other interesting was they added a fifth member with Howie Simon on guitar. Howie at the time was Soto’s solo band’s guitarist and friend. They really brought the music and delivered two great shows so let us get to them.

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Kiss – ‘Kiss My Axe 1978’ (1981 Re-Issue) – Album Review (The Bootleg Series)

Happy Thanksgiving!! Here is what I am thankful for as far as music goes (of course tops is my family and friends).

I am always on the hunt for Kiss Bootlegs and I got another classic one a few weeks back. Noble Records was having their 3rd Anniversary Drop and Dylan always has some great stuff out that day. The store opened at 10 and the line had to be long as it always in as everyone wants the good stuff. I had been recovering from surgery and this was my first trip out so there was no way I was getting there early and standing in line. No, I wasn’t doing that. Instead I left the house at a little before 10 and got there around 10:20 am. I figured, if it was meant for me to have it, it would still be there. And guess what, it was still there and I grabbed it!!! Yes, I was excited. Bootleg #21 of Kiss was now in my collection.

This one was an old one. It was from 1981 and was actually a re-issue of the 1978 original release of the album. The people putting out this one spared no expense as the album sleeve is a plain white cardboard with nothing on it. Instead you get a piece of paper with a badly printed picture of the band and the details on the release. That is it. The inner sleeve is white and labels, well, as you see below, there was not much too them. But typical bootleg fashion, the band’s name is not on the label. I love these old style boots, you can’t beat them.

This was recorded live at Los Angeles Forum, California, On August 25, 1977 and this is fresh off the new album at the time, ‘Love Gun’. I’m really excited about this one because I didn’t have a bootleg from the Love Gun Tour…now I do. The band was hungry, young and insanely good at this time. The recording is an audience recording as you can hear a lot of the kids screaming around the person recording the show. But as far as audience recordings go, it isn’t bad. It isn’t the whole show as it is only 11 songs and most of them are from the ‘Love Gun’ album.

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Soul SirkUS – ‘World Play’ (2004/2005) – Album Review (The Jeff Scott Soto Series)

Soul SirkUS started originally as a project called PlanetUS which had Neal Schon, Deen Castronovo, Sammy Hagar and Michael Anthony. They demoed a couple songs, but it ended abruptly when Sammy and Michael returned to their small side gig called Van Halen. Neal and Deen wanted to continue so they needed a singer. Then in January 2004 at the NAMM Convention in Anaheim, California. Neal had heard of Jeff Scott Soto thanks to Andrew McNiece at Melodicrock.com who was good friends with Jeff and mentioned it to Neal. At the NAMM Convention, Neal and Jeff met and jammed and the relationship between the two was born.

They pulled in the great bass player Marco Mendoza and now the band was complete. They recorded 11 songs and changed the name from PlanetUS to Soul SirkUS. The name had to have the US in the name as Neal wanted to show this as a continuation of what he started with PlanetUS. The Soul Sirkus parts each start with an S to represent Neal Schon and Jeff Scott Soto. They spent time writing together, Neal on music and Soto on lyrics, but from what I gather, it was recorded in two days!! That is impressive. The album was complete and released on December 7, 2004. The cover was black which is different than the copy I have and I still need to get that copy.

While rehearsing for a tour, Deen Castronovo was exhausted and his health was not great after the long Journey tour that he and Neal just recently finished. Deen stepped away. But no one wanted the project to end so they recruited drummer Virgil Donati most notably from the band Planet X. The band didn’t want to go on the road as a band and support an album that not every member played on so they went back in the studio and had Virgil re-do all the drum parts. This gave them time to do a couple new songs as well. They re-released the album in March 2005 and this time the cover was a bright yellow and there were now 16 songs and not just the original 11 tracks.

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Scorpions – ‘Savage Amusement’ (1988) – Album Review (The Scorpions Collection Series)

It had been four years since the band’s last studio album ‘Love at First Sting’ in 1984. The band toured extensively for that record and then released a live record ‘World Wide Live’ celebrating that tour. Then the band toured again for the Live album and they were exhausted. They finally headed back in the studio in 1987 to start recording ‘Savage Amusement’ and worked on the new album through to early 1988. The band’s sound changed as they became way more polished and mature sounding thanks in large part to the success of Def Leppard. I would say the sound tried to mirror them to some degree.

The album saw the full band return with Klaus Meine, Rudolf Schenker, Mathias Jabs, Francis Buchholz and Herman Rarebell. The producer was the same as well with Dieter Dierks, however, this would wind up being his last Scorpions album. ‘The ‘Savage Amusement’ was released on April 16, 1988 and did really well going to #5 in the U.S. and going Platinum with over 1,000,000 copies sold. Sadly though, it was considered a disappointment.

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Jeff Scott Soto – ‘Live at the Queen Convention 2003’ (2004) – Album Review (The Jeff Scott Soto Series)

How does Jeff Scott Soto end up doing Queen songs at Queen conventions? Well, he had always loved Queen and Freddie Mercury was a big influence on his life, but that is common with a lot of people. For Jeff, it all started back in 1999 when one fateful day he met Jacky Smith who was the head of the Queen Fan Club. That chance meeting led to Jeff getting to meet Brian May and a chance to jam with him and the SAS Band at the annual Freddie Mercury Birthday Party.

That keep him in touch with the Queen family and in 2002, Jacky asked him to come to one of the Queen conventions. He made an appearance and actually jammed on a few songs during the convention. The feedback was so great, Jeff was brought back to do the North America convention as the first was in the UK. This led Jeff to be brought up on stage at an after party with Brian and Roger Taylor when they received a Star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. If that wasn’t enough, Jeff was asked to come back in 2003 and instead of a handful of songs, they wanted Jeff to perform an entire set of Queen songs. But not as a tribute act, as a real act and doing everything his way with his own band.

Jeff brought his solo band with him which was Gary Schutt, Howie Simon and Alex Papa. Now, Jeff was a massive Queen fan and knew all the songs, even the deep cuts. However, his band only knew the hits. This was the Queen Convention and “the Hits” aren’t enough. You need deep cuts. So, the band took a crash course in Queen and after several rehearsals, the band was ready to go. What we get here on a 2 CD set is the entire set they performed and it is massive. They played around 45 cuts (some in song melodies) and it was incredible. They released it on video and CD. I have the CD, but I need to get the video. Let’s get to it.

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You Picked It!: Cinderella – ‘Long Cold Winter’ (1988) – Album Review

Alright…You Picked It! Apparently, people didn’t like the new format as the vote count was way down. I am getting back to what my site is about and that is what is in my collection which is why I changed things. I was tired of the other way and needed to change…so I did. Get used to this way because this is how it will be for the time being. The first vote getter in this month’s picks ended up the winner. Therefore the winner was Cinderella’s ‘Long Cold Winter’. Here are the results.

  1. Cinderella – ‘Long Cold Winter’ – 5 votes
  2. Winger – ‘Pull’ – 4 votes
  3. White Lion – ‘Mane Attraction’ – 2 votes
  4. Night Ranger – ‘Man in Motion’ – 2 votes
  5. Poison – ‘Look What the Cat Dragged In’ – 1 Vote

Thanks to all for participating. The December choices will be up on Saturday! And the choices are all now from my collection and will have a loose theme of 70’s Classics!!!

CINDERELLA – ‘LONG COLD WINTER’ (1988):

Cinderella hit it big with their Glam Rock debut ‘Night Songs’ back in 1986 with a lot of thanks to Jon Bon Jovi who saw them play and helped them get a deal. Gene Simmons was interested first, but they weren’t interested in Gene. The debut album had them dressing all Glam in colorful outfits and I don’t think they were very fond of that whole concept. That became obvious with their second album when they went to a more all black and blue jean look and changed their sound to mostly blues rock. They wanted to distance themselves as much as they could from the Glam scene and I don’t think they did, but they at least sounded different. Fans of the debut, followed along with this one as well…I know I did.

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Scorpions – ‘World Wide Live (1985) – Album Review (The Scorpions Collection Series)

With the massive success of ‘Love at First Sting’, Scorpions were riding high. So the label felt it was time for another live album as it had been 7 years since the last one. During the ‘Love at First Sting Tour’, numerous shows were recorded and a double live album was pieced together. The shows were as follows:

  • Bercy, Paris, France (1984-02-29)
  • The Forum, Los Angeles, CA, USA (1984-04-24 & 1984-04-25)
  • Sports Arena, San Diego, CA, USA (1984-04-26)
  • Pacific Amphitheatre, Costa Mesa, CA, USA (1984-04-28)
  • Sporthalle, Cologne, West Germany (1984-11-17)

The album was released on June 20, 1985 and went all the way to #17 on the US Billboard 200 Chart and sold over 1,000,000 copies giving it platinum status. The band could do no wrong. The classic line-up was in place with Klaus Meine, Rudolf Schenker, Matthias Jabs, Francis Buchholz and Herman Rarebell. And of course, the album was produced by long time Scorps producer Dieter Dierks.

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Jeff Scott Soto – ‘Lost in the Translation’ (2004) – Album Review (The Jeff Scott Soto Series)

As I had mentioned previously, 2004 was going to be a big year for Jeff Scott Soto. His introduction to Neal Schon during NAMM in January 2004, was the sign. Schon played on and co-wrote a song on his solo album, ‘Lost in the Translation’, which we are reviewing now and it led to a new band later that year and the Journey frontman shortly after that. Before we get ahed of ourselves, let us focus on the solo album first. And there is a live album to come out before Schon’s stuff as well.

‘Lost in the Translation’ is Jeff’s third solo album and what a step up from the prior two. He still had his good buddies playing on it – Howie Simon and Gary Schutt on guitar duty and Glen Sobel on drums and a guest appearance by Mr. Schon himself. It was a solid line-up, a solid album and would see Jeff head out on a full world tour that would last for 35 gigs and hit 4 continents that would run from August to November of 2004. Jeff was hitting his stride, finding his footing and the world was learning who he was. I know I did because it was this album and Talisman’s ‘Cats & Dogs’ where I discovered the greatness that is Jeff Scott Soto all thanks to Andrew McNiece at MelodicRock.com. Also, note the cover photo and under his right arm is Jeff’s autograph. This is one of the 5 albums I had him sign when I met him back in April 2022. Really Cool!!

The first track and single is “Believe in Me”. It was co-written by Jeff along with Neal Schon. I told you they began a great relationship…fruitful already. And let me tell you, it could be a Journey song. Not a ballad either, one of the rocking tracks. The opening guitar riff is cool as Schon shreds it. Jeff’s vocals are so smooth and melodic and you know what, he would sound great singing Journey songs…maybe that will happen!! (maybe real soon). You had Glen Sobel on drums and Jeff on bass and everyone sounded tight and laid down a great rhythm. A totally stellar track and very radio friendly even though no radio around here played it!

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