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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