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.
We are here with yet another Jeff Scott Soto release and this one is quite unique. It is called ‘B-Sides’ and consists of unreleased tracks, bonus tracks, duets as well as songs used for Tribute albums. It shows as it is an official release from Frontiers Records, but it is very cheap looking. The CDs themselves do say these are “Not For Sale, For Promo Use Only”, but they seem like bootlegs. However, discogs has them on their site and they do not list it as ‘Unofficial’ so everything actually leads me to believe this is a real Frontiers Records release. And yet, the mix of it is not that great as the volume between songs has not been equalized as some songs are louder than others. I don’t know what to think, but I have a copy and I am pretty stoked about it. I am curious as to why the reason behind this product though, so if anyone knows, please let me know in the comments below.
The main reason I’m stoked is that it saves me a ton of money from going and buying all the albums that these songs are on. Most are on an album from another artist that Jeff appears on or Tribute albums where this is probably the only song I would want any way. To have them all in one compilation I would say is big win. One thing that sort of stinks about this is the liner notes on the CD booklet. As you can see from a picture further down the post, there is a fantastic Track List of CD 2 and where the songs originated from, but the left side of the picture does not have the track list for CD 1 and where the songs originated. That is actually a misprint because I have seen pictures of the inner sleeve that have the CD 1 track list breakdown. If the list is there or not, this is still a pretty cool piece in the Soto collection.
The first song was a cassette only bonus track from Jeff’s first band, Panther. “Set Me Free” one of my favorite songs on that album. Soto attacks it with a deeper tone and yet still soars with some high notes. The drumming on it is immense with some great fills. The guitar solo is typical for the time to see how fast he can go, but its great. It definitely takes me back to the 80’s with this one. The next three tracks,”Act of Sympathy”, “Highway to Nowhere” and “Mental Ward” were demos from Jeff’s work with is buddy Gary Schutt on his album ‘Sentimetal’ that Jeff sang lead on. “Act” is pure metal, heavy, dark and Jeff sounds great but a lot of echo…again, this is a demo so not fully polished. Same with “Highway” except it is a little more speed metal, some kickass double bass drum, a real killer track. “Mental Ward” comes off feeling like a leftover track from Jeff’s worker with Biker Mice From Mars soundtrack. It has that same campy, cartoony feel to it.
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.
Before the band could record their fourth album, they had to go through a lot of a business crap. Money was becoming an issue in the fact they weren’t getting any. They were extremely disappointed, to say the least, with their current management and record label, Trident. The hired a lawyer and for nine months, battled back and forth until they were successful in getting released from the Trident deal. But it was costly. They were able to get ownership back of their first few albums, but it cost them 1% royalty on the next 6 as well as pay £100,000 and the tour that was scheduled had to be cancelled because it was set up by the old management. Now this was 1975, so that is a lot of freaking money.
Queen was able to get new management and they singed with EMI (UK) / Elektra (US) and were set to create their next masterpiece. This album would be the most expensive album ever to be made (at the time of 1975). It cost £40,000 (or $338,000 in today’s dollars). It was so expensive due to the fact they recorded the album in seven different studios, over 4 months and required a lot of multi-tracking and they ended up using a 24-Track set up. Their last album only used a 16-Track tape. Queen was going big or going home. And if you know them at all, going big is the only way they know.
When I heard Queen + Adam Lambert were releasing alive album, I was quite excited. I had seen them live together and thought it was a wonderful show. They were here in Charlotte back on August 23, 2019 and you can read about it HERE. Sadly, this show wasn’t part of this release. But there were many others as the band chose from over 200 shows to come up with the 22 song set. The release came in both the CD and a Blu-Ray with the actual clips from the shows they used including the Fire Fight Australia appearance where they performed the full Queen set from 1985’s Live Aid and yes, that included the famous “Ay-Oh” actually done by Freddie.
The CD is missing two tracks that you only get on the Blu-Ray and those are the “Drum Battle” and the Brian May Guitar Solo / “Last Horizon”. The “Drum Battle” was really awesome because Roger was dueling with his son, Rufus Tiger Taylor. And Tiger is a pretty great drummer in his own right. What a proud moment that must be for Roger. The Brian May guitar solo was similar to what I saw at my show, but the difference was instead of riding an asteroid into the rafters, Brian was being lifted in the palm of the hand of the robot from ‘News of the World’.
On a dark stormy night in August, Queen + Adam Lambert came riding in to town for the very last show of their Rhapsody Tour. Yes, Charlotte, NC was able to bid farewell to this legend of a band who has seen a massive resurgence thanks in large part to the movie ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’ and in small part due to the current singer Adam Lambert.
There is no exciting story to tell leading up to the show except the Rain Gods were nice to my daughter and I by not raining on us. We got in to the Spectrum Center and about 5 minutes later the skies opened up. People were coming in dripping wet, but no one cared because everyone was there to have a good time and listening to everyone’s favorite band, Queen.
When we finally arrive to our seats after a long line at the merch table and a long line at the bathroom and a short line at the refreshment stand to grab a couple of $5 waters (each), we were greeted to this…
A giant crown wrapping the stage. It looked so real and like it was made out of metal. Impressive. Even more impressive was the fact it was a giant TV screen. The graphics, detail, clarity, hell everything about it was impressive. It looked 3D without the glasses…amazing.
I have been a Queen fan since I was a young teen back in the 80’s and when this movie came out, I wanted to go see it. I was worried about the cheesiness of a biopic and if they could represent Queen and Freddie Mercury respectable enough or would it look like a LIfetime biopic? Could the actors make it believable enough that I could imagine that this was really the guys from the band I know so well? Could I get lost in the movie and enjoy it?
All valid questions and let me tell you, the answer is yes to all three questions. The movie was respectable, believable and I enjoyed it. It opens with the band about to take the stage for their Live Aid show and then cuts to 1970 where it all began and Freddie would meet Brian and Roger while the latter two were playing with their band Smile. And the rest you can say is history.
The movie takes you through the start of the band, the struggles with the label, the struggles with each other and the struggles of Freddie’s life. And the movie ends with that Live Aid concert which was quite possibly the greatest 20 minute set of any band in history. How they recreated the Live Aid scene was magical and the Blu-Ray comes with an exclusive behind-the-scenes look on how they did it. Probably worth the price of admission alone.
Happy Tuesday! Welcome to this week’s memes. We are tackling the band Queen this week and why not! Queen is so worthy of getting this treatment. So if you week has started off pretty crappy, maybe this will cheer you up a little. Enjoy!!
Here is the Real Most Interesting Man in the World!!