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 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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Cheap Trick – ‘In Another World’ (2021) – Album Review (The Cheap Trick Collection Series)

We are on the last review in the Cheap Trick Collection Series and it is their twentieth studio album called ‘In Another World’. The album was originally supposed to be released in 2018 and the first single “Summer Looks Good On You” came out on May 18, 2018, but no release came. Then over a year later on Black Friday Record Store Day on November 29, 2019 a second single, “Gimme Some Truth”, was released which we reviewed a couple weeks back. Still no album. The band finally finished it in 2020, but then Covid hit. So finally on April 9, 2021 the album was released.

The band was still original members Robin Zander, Rick Nielsen and Tom Petersson. However, there were additional musicians on the album. Daxx Nielsen, Rick’s son, handled the drums and that wasn’t all. Jimmy Hall, lead singer for Wet Willie, actually contributed with the harmonica and former Sex Pistols guitarists, Steve Jones, contributed guitar work on the song “Gimme Some Truth”. The producer on the album was Julian Raymond which I believe is his fourth in a row with the band. He also contributed songwriting along with Daxx as all five were credited with the songs with some minor exceptions which we will talk about later.

One thing to note, while on tour for this album in 2021, Tom Petersson had to have open heart surgery and was sidelined from the tour. As a result, Robin’s son, Robin Taylor Zander, stepped in on bass. Tom is still a full member of the band, thankfully. I still find it interesting that when two of the original members had to leave, Robin and Rick made sure to keep it in the family. Okay, now back to the music.

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