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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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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Scorpions – ‘Love at First Sting’ (1984) – Album Review (The Scorpions Collection Series)

The band started recording their 9th studio album in Stommein, West Germany which is where producer, Dieter Dierks, studio was located. The album was recorded in 1983 and 1984 and finally saw its release on March 27, 1984. The line-up was intact with Klause Meine, Rudolf Schenker, Mathias Jabs, Francis Buchholz and Herman Rarebell.

However, some of the early recordings that took place were actually in Sweden and had former Rainbow members, Jimmy Bain on bass and Bobby Rondinell on drums. Jimmy Bain’s name was brought up by Herman and then later Herman got sick and Bobby stepped in. The band then left Sweden and did a two week tour in the States with the normal members of the band. After the tour it was determined that everyone felt great and they headed to Germany to record with the original members.

The album became Scorpions biggest selling album of all time going triple platinum with well over 3,000,000 copies sold in the U.S. alone. Thanks in large part to MTV and the smash song “Rock You Like a Hurricane” which is a staple at sporting events and a song I think everyone in the world knows. The album went to #6 on the Billboard 200 album chart, but it was really the constant rotation on MTV that got the U.S.’s attention. I know it got mine. They played all their videos and even the ones from Blackout which made a lot of people run out and get that album as well. “Love at First Sting” was the band’s pinnacle album. The smooth, high glossed rock was so well polished it gave off a platinum sheen. And in fact, it was one of the first fully digital metal albums ever made. They have reached the top…or had they?

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Talisman – ‘Best of’ (1996) – Album Review (The Jeff Scott Soto Series)

Sometime during 1996, Jeff Scott Soto and Marcel Jacob were completely thrown for a loop when a best of album was released in Japan for their band Talisman. No one told them. The album was called “Besterious” and consisted of all songs that were previously released from the band. In response to this, Jeff and Marcel, along with Empire Records, decided they were going to release their own band approved version of a greatest hits compilation. It was called “Best of…” and it was chock full of hits plus a ton of previously unreleased tracks that any diehard fan would want to buy. I should know, I bought it!!

Two of the biggest treats were the first two tracks. These were both demos yet they had Goran Edman on vocals instead of Jeff Scott Soto. Goran was the singer for John Norum’s band and joined Talisman prior to Jeff. Goran left to join Yngwie’s band. The first of the demos is “Day By Day” and musically is no different than what ended up on the debut. It is a very Bon Jovi style song. Goran’s vocals are higher than Jeff’s but I’m not sure they have the power Jeff’s have. Regardless, it is still a stellar version of the song.

The second Goran demo is “Lightning Strike” seems a little more raw than the final Soto version, but all the elements are there. The chorus has some great harmonies and layers of vocals. Jeff sings it in this same style as Goran. I’m not sure which one I like better with this one. The rawness of this one adds a little to it.

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My Sunday Song – “Coming Home” by Sons of Apollo

For My Sunday Song #287, we are going to discover the first single from one of the most talented bands Jeff Scott Soto has been in. The song is “Coming Home” and it is off the album ‘Psychotic Symphony’ from the band Sons of Apollo. Why do I say most talented, let’s look at the players. Obviously you have Jeff Scott Soto on vocals or this post wouldn’t be happening, but you also have Ron “Bumblefoot” Thal on guitar, Billy Sheehan on bass, Derek Sherinian on keyboards and Mike Portnoy on drums. It don’t get much better than this. This song was the world’s introduction to the band and what a statement they made with it.

Normally, I go in to the song meanings before I get in to the music, but I can’t wait to talk about the music. That opening keyboard riff by Derek Sherinian is classic and brutal. If you expected the album to be all prog rock, you’d be wrong. This song is pure Hard Rock reminiscent of Van Halen but maybe even heavier. Bumblefoot’s effortless riffs dance throughout the song, Sheehan’s bass gives us a new sound from what you’d expect from Billy and it adds so much groove to the song. And you can’t forget Portnoy’s drums which are as immense and immersive as you’ve ever gotten from him. It is pure power! Speaking of power, Jeff Scott Soto attacks the vocals and they are filled with such anger and intensity that you feel it throughout your body and those screams are piercing and yet so beautifully done. This was so unexpected and totally amazing and you have to hear it to believe it.

And what does the song mean, who cares. Just put it on repeat and let the abundance of sound fill every void of your body and rock the hell out of you. Each time you hear it, there is something you hadn’t heard before as there is so much going on musically you can’t help but be blown away.

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