Back in 2003, Talisman hit the Festival Circuit in Europe and a lot of those shows were recorded. Two shows in particular were captured and were finally released by Frontiers Records in 2005. We got a Live CD, which we reviewed last week, and then a DVD set. Today, we review the DVD set. The DVD set was called ‘World’s Best Kept Secret’ and was a 2DVD set. The first DVD giving us the two shows released on the CD and the 2nd DVD giving us a retrospective of Talisman and including all the videos from throughout the years plus pieces of several other live shows. It is magnificent set and a great time capsule of a band that was not know across the globe and is one of my favorite bands which is why I think the title to this set is more than appropriate. They were like a little secret that I had and I wish more people knew about them when they were around as I think they are awesome. I have tried to tell the world about them now with this Jeff Scott Soto Series so hopefully I make a few new fans from this series.
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.
If I had to pick to listening to the CD or watching the DVD for these two shows, I would pick the DVD any day of the week. The CD is fantastic and I rated it as such, but the DVD lets you see the action going on with this cast of characters on stage. Jeff Scott Soto is a mad man and his energy level is 110% the whole show. He starts off fully clothed but by the end he only has pants on as he sweated up enough to fill a kiddie pool. You get to see the great drumming by Jamie Borger, Howie Simon’s great playing and that fast finger work by Fredrik Akesson. And of course, you can watch Marcel Jacob pound on that bass like so few people can do. It is totally brilliant. You feel the energy feeding off the band and the crowd.
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.
2002 was a big year for Jeff Scott Soto. It was the year of his coming out as a solo artist. Yes, he released a solo album back in 1994, but the intent was not to tour and showcase as a solo artist. He had signed with Frontiers Records and was getting ready to release his 2nd solo album ‘Prism’, but before that Frontiers’ promotional crew were in high gear. With press releases and having Jeff involved in the 10th Anniversary of The Gods Festival. The festival consists of artists/bands from the Frontiers Records label as well as Now & Then label.
The festival occurred on June 2, 2002 and was to be released as a live album and a DVD. I only have the live album, I need to get the DVD still. The line-up was pretty impressive as it had Eric Martin, Hardline, Harem Scarem, Honeymoon Suite, Ten, Soto and several other bands. It took place at Pennington’s in Bradford, England and what I’ve read, it was a helluva show by all.
Jeff’s band that night consisted of some old familiar friends including Alex Papa on drums, Gary Schutt on bass & acoustic guitar (did an album review of his for this series) and on guitar, Howie Simon. JSS is listed as “Top Dog” and he is right. It is his show, his songs, his voice everyone came to hear. He proved that when he came out on stage, alone, dressed all in black and did “2 Your Heart” a cappella. The song is from the debut Human Clay album. Jeff proved that voice is for real. The band comes in full force as the race through the Queen cover “Let Me Entertain You” which is appropriate because Soto does just that.
By 2001, Jeff Scott Soto and Marcel Jacob and had been playing together for a decade. The longest project Jeff had ever been with and probably the most fulfilling as he and Marcel were able to craft Talisman out of all the types of music they both liked. To celebrate that 10 years, a tour was needed and they wound up playing at the Sweden Rock Festival in 2001 on one of the smaller stages.
The place was packed up to an hour before the show. The crowd was chanting their name and was ready to hear some Talisman. Jeff Scott Soto, Marcel Jacob, Pontus Norgren and Jamie Borger were ready to take the stage and give the fans what they wanted…Talisman!! They played on the Rockklassiker stage with a 2000 crowd capacity. But it started off a little rough…two days prior to the show, Marcel’s gear was left in Stockholm where he, Jeff and Pontus were working on the new Humanimal album. So, Marcel had no bass. He wasn’t going to play, but when he heard the crowd chanting, he ran and found a bass from another band.
There was another band at the festival that had some recording gear and so they decided to record the show. Marcel and Pontus were a little unhappy with the recording as the bass sound wasn’t what Marcel really sounded like (remember, not his guitar), Jeff’s microphone had issues and the guitar sounded a little out of tune at times…they re-recorded a lot of the record in the studio and played as if it was the show to capture that essence…and honestly, you can’t tell. It all sounds fantastic.
This was 2001, so this was prior to Humanimal project and prior to the giant riff between Marcel and Pontus which forced the end of Humanimal and the end of Pontus in Talisman. So, if this is the last recording with Pontus on lead guitar, then we get a wonderful time capsule. The album was supposed to come out in April 2002, but the release was delayed (probably due to the Humanimal issues going on). It finally saw the light of day in December 2002 and thankfully it did as it is a fantastic show.
In 1989, Marcel Jacob had label interest but no band. You remember Marcel, he was in Yngwie Malmsteem’s Rising Force with Jeff Scott Soto. Although the two didn’t hit it off at first as their musical upbringing were so different. Marcel was a European music snob and Jeff was simple uncultured American. Over time, they became friends and Marcel needed help from his friend for a project he was working on that had no singer. He asked Jeff to sing the songs for the album.
Marcel’s project was originally called Guitars on Fire, but after the songs were completed and mixed, the name changed to Talisman. But the album almost didn’t happen. At the time of recording the album, Jeff Scott Soto was in a band called Eyes and his contract had him exclusively which means, Jeff can’t do anything outside of Eyes. At the time, Jeff was broke, and I mean flat broke. He needed money fast. So Jeff talked to his label, begged and pleaded and made them understand that this album is a one-off and wouldn’t compete with Eyes. It would have limited release only in Sweden so they had nothing to fear. And you know, they bought it.
Jeff went to Sweden and recorded the album with Jacob in 1989. For the album, you had Marcel Jacob on bass, drums (except for two tracks), keyboards and guitar. Jeff Scott Soto handled the vocals, Christopher Stahl on guitar, Mats Lindfors on guitar, Mats Olassaon on keyboard, and Peter Hermansson on drums for the two tracks Marcel didn’t play on.