When it was time to start work on the new Talisman album, Marcel Jacobs flew to the States to meet up with Jeff Scott Soto and write songs. He was there for a few weeks in March 1995 and they cranked out a batch of songs. But recording this time around was going to be different. The band didn’t meet up in the studio to record the album. Instead each member recorded their parts in different studios around the world. Once the music was done, they sent the tapes to Jeff and he added all the vocals. Not the quickest way or easiest and doesn’t always deliver the best results.
The first time the band members were all together in the studio was only when it was time to mix the records and that time was short. There was a big issue with the Japanese label. They wanted the album done by a set date. The band was rushed to get it mixed and that was done by Mats Lindfors. Marcel was not happy with the mix, but the Japanese label didn’t care so they took the original mix. The album was going to be released.
On the good side of it, their European label, Polydor Records didn’t have a deadline. This allowed the band to remix the album, make some vocal edits (as Jeff wasn’t happy with a few parts) and then on August 23, 1995 the album was released in Europe. And yes, it was a different mix than the Japanese Edition. Of course that means I now need both copies so off I go to find the Japanese Edition. My copy of the album is a 2004 release which was a 2 CD set including the ‘Life’ album and the ‘5 out of 5’ live album we reviewed a couple weeks ago.
The album didn’t do as well as the prior Talisman albums and that was all due to label issues. You see there was an issue with distribution as the new distributor prioritized their own albums over Polydor’s releases. People with the labels were getting fired and the Japanese label ended up going bankrupt. Mix all those things together and trouble will ensue.
1994 has been a real busy year for Jeff Scott Soto as you can see from all the 1994 reviews. His band Slam was pretty much done so all his time was now focused on Talisman. Marcel Jacob and Jeff Scott Soto would end up writing a ton of songs for the next studio album. Talisman was now a full band. They had Jamie Borger on drums and Fredrik Akesson on guitar and with them coming off the last tour, the band was tight and hitting on all cylinders.
The band recorded the album in Sound Trade Studios and when they finished, they had 22 songs in can which coincidentally only took 22 days to record and mix. They wanted to do a double album and each disc would have a separate theme. One would be songs with human characteristics and the second disc with animal characteristics. However, the songs actually would all fit on a single CD, so they decided they wanted to only release a single CD.
So, the band picked their favorite 14 songs for the album and it was released in Europe . It was to be released in Japan, but they wanted a different set of songs so the Japan label picked the songs for their version of the album. The albums came out on May 25, 1994. And then a funny thing happened. The European version was out selling the Japanese version…in Japan. Yes, the import of the European version was way more popular. As a result, they ended up releasing the European version in Japan. And if that wasn’t enough, they released a part 2 version with all the outtakes on October 19, 1994.
As we already know, 1993 was a very busy year for Jeff Scott Soto. He jumped from the Talisman ‘Genesis’ recordings straight in to the Axel Rudi Pell’s ‘The Ballads’ recordings and then had to fly to Japan to do a set of shows for Talisman. Not to mention the Takara album and even the Biker Mice from Mars soundtrack. It was a whirlwind. And then around February of 1994, an album of the Japanese gigs was released called ‘Five Out of Five (Live in Japan)’.
The original release of this album was called ‘Five out of Five’. The reissue I have from 2004 is a double CD that includes their album ‘Life’ (which we will review soon) and this one now titled ‘5 Out of 5’. It is strange the album is called ‘5 out of 5’ because there are only 4 members in the band at this time. So, what is with the ‘5’? Easy, Marcel Jacobs thought it would be funny. At first you think, how is that funny, but if you read Kerrang magazine, that is how they do their ratings ‘5 out of 5’ or ‘4 out of 5’, you get the idea. Marcel thought if it ended up being mentioned or reviewed in Kerrang, it would already read Talisman ‘5 out of 5’. Pretty clever!! Thanks to Frnak Tunny and Ronny Hahn’s Jeff Scott Soto Biography for that little nugget.
Talisman’s debut did quite well in Sweden, but for Jeff Scott Soto, it was only viewed it at the time as a side project as he was busy with his band Eyes. The band Eyes was frustrating for him so he left to work on a new band Slam. Marcel Jacob still kept Talisman alive. However, the label went belly up and Jason signed with Warner Sweden. With Jeff gone, Jason Bieler left to focus on Saigon Kick and everyone else left, Marcel needed a band. After much searching, he found 19 year old guitarist extraordinaire, Fredrik Akesson. Then shortly thereafter, he ran in to an old grade school pal, Matti Alfonzetti, who would join as the singer. They wrote and put some demos together for the label.
However, there was some management change at the label and they didn’t care about the success of the debut album as it wasn’t their baby so Marcel packed shop and left. They shopped the album around and after six months of nothing, Matti decided to leave and pursue other things. Marcel was not deterred and kept shopping the demo around without a singer. Finally Dino Records was interested in the band with one big catch. They wanted Jeff back on vocals. They knew about the success of their debut with Jeff and they loved that sound. That wasn’t a terrible thing for Marcel. Marcel decided to reach out to Jeff and catch up. And within 3 weeks of that call, the two were together again in the studio to record the next Talisman album. Why did Jeff join so quickly, well…the Eyes were done in his eyes and his band Slam was going nowhere as every door had been slammed in their face so what choice did he have. None really and we are all the better for it.
Talisman at this point was Marcel Jacob, Jeff Scott Soto and Fredrik Akesson (now in Opeth) and so they had enough players with just the three of them and they got to work. They didn’t have a drummer anymore as Jakob Samuel left to focus on finding a band where he could be singer so Marcel handled all the drumming through a machine as well as the bass work. They recorded the album in December 1992 and on July 7, 1993, the album was released. It actually got some international interest and not just in Sweden. A Japanese edition was done with a bonus track. My version is not either the original or the Japanese Edition. I have the 2003 Re-Issue that was a double CD. The original album with the Japanese Bonus Track, plus a Bonus CD full of demos and alternate mixes. You even get the songs that were sung by Matti Alfonzetti which for a collector is a pretty cool score.
“Time After Time” kicks off the album and it was a song developed during a sound check while on tour for the debut album. Marcel was playing around with it and took it back to the hotel and turned it in to a song with Jeff adding lyrics and vocals later. The song kicks off with some finger picking and then a funky bass groove and then BAM!! It explodes in to a heavy rock track that blows your head off as your mind tries to wrap around the greatness. Jacob’s bass is front and center laying down a nasty funked up groove and the riffs by this 19 year old virtuoso player a recipe for a masterpiece. Soto’s vocals are powerful and yet so melodic and the chorus is catchy and slick and pure bliss. What a way to kick off the album.
Next up is “Comin’ Home” which was actually the first song written for the album and is about finding that perfect place that is a part of you as much as you are a part of it. The combo of Jacob and Akesson are the new dynamic duo of bass and guitar. Together they lay waste to all that hears them. It is a smorgasbord to the senses. This stadium sized anthem is loud and features metal riffs while maintaining that melodic sound with Sotos smooth vocals. Check out the solo as Akesson shows what he is made of with this one. You do get Jakob Samuels on the backing vocals so he wasn’t totally gone yet.
The first single off the album and a classic Talisman song is “Mysterious (This Time It’s Serious)” and it keeps the party going. If this song would’ve come out 3 years earlier you would have an instant and massive radio (and MTV) hit. This Chic inspired song has some fun and funk that pays homage to them while still being a pure hard rock song. Jeff’s vocals soar and he has never sounded better. Talisman is the biggest showcase of the stellarness that is Jeff’s vocals. I think I’m making up words.
“If You Could Only Be My Friend” brings some more hot, sizzling, funky goodness. I guess when the main songwriter is the bass player, bass will be heavy in the songs and Talisman is certainly that. Marcel’s playing is so recognizable the minute I hear it, I know who it is. How many bass players can do that? This song is his showcase. The song is rick, textured and full of layers of goodness. Soto tackles the vocals with the veracity of those bass line. That chorus seeps into your ears and sets up shop to be sung long after the song is over. The guitar solo, with the heavy bass thumping along, slays and the album.
The bass keeps going straight into “All or Nothing” that explodes with a force that will shake the walls and rattle the floors. The lightning tempo will get you moving for sure. It is 100 mph rock frenzy as all the songs have been so far. The solo is a back and forth for the Bass and the Guitar before the Guitar solo knocks it out of the park. This 19 year old is a pure powerhouse and a major shredder. There is no time to catch your breath as it is pounding one song after the other. And Amen to that brother!!!
Then things finally slow down with the first ballad “All I Want”. The song is piano based which starts off with just the piano and Soto on vocals. The piano is actually played by Jeff’s girlfriend at the time Julie Greaux (Billy Idol & Axel Rudi Pell). The band comes kicking in and adds the power to the ballad. The song is quite nice with the emotive vocals that immerse you into the song. You have the obligatory solo and everything you want in a power ballad. It is a nice time to slow it down so you could catch your breath.
The next one opens with a bass solo accompanied by a heavy pounding bass drum. “U Done Me Wrong” kicks off the back half of the album as the first had started with power and energy. When these boys rock, the kick some major ass. The song follows the same formula as the rest and as a result works just fine. Jakob is back on backing vocals for this one too.
“I’ll Set Your House On Fire” is another rocker and this time the guitar riffs are nasty and a little gritty. There is a stylistic change, a more deliberate pacing, a darker tone and a heavier groove. The sound is crisp and clean and the guitar solo is short and sweet. Jeff’s vocals aren’t as sweeping and smooth as he adds some grit and gives a more serious delivery brings us one a really cool song.
Another rocker with “Give Me A Sign” was originally a Matti song that they tweaked the lyrics so Jeff could make it his own and he did. Not as heavy as prior songs, still a rocker though. Bumped up against the first half of the album shows the song is still good, but not as strong as the first half songs. Jeff’s vocals are melodic and strong, but the song itself is a little dull compared to the others. The saving grace is the guitar work by this kid at the end. It is stellar. But I still wouldn’t skip it.
More funky goodness comes with “Lovechild”. Marcel lays down some magic with those bass lines. Jeff turns the vocals into another melodic party. This one is a slower rocker with as not as much power, but more power than a ballad. It sounds like three guys playing and having fun making sound it so effortlessly and easy. When Frederik lays down that solo and has Marcel chugging along, it is fantastic. A great deep cut.
The dramatic, orchestrated keyboard opening of “Long Way To Go” is over-the-top goodness. The song then kicks in as the true rocker it is. Jeff’s vocals are on point and he delivers another great performance and just slays that short chorus with a scream of the song title. Another great solo and there are a lot of those. To think he was only around 19….crazy. Julie is also on this one but as backing vocals. What I like about this song is how different it sounds then a lot of the songs on here. I don’t know if it was a last minute add, but I am glad they did. It is great way to go out. Except not the end of the re-issue as we get a bonus track.
The Japanese Edition of the album had a Bad Company cover thanks in large part to Marcel who was getting in to Paul Rodgers at the time and loved this song. Jeff handles is beautifully as he can morph his vocals to fit almost any style and he takes this one and delivers an authentic Bad Company performance of the song with “Run With the Pack”. Okay his verses are pure Jeff, but I like the way he tackles the chorus with that deeper tone. It is great.
Time After Time – Keeper
Comin’ Home – Keeper
Mysterious (This Time It’s Serious) – Keeper
If U Would Only Be My Friend – Keeper
All or Nothing – Keeper
All I Want – Keeper
U Done Me Wrong – Keeper
I’ll Set Your House on Fire – Keeper
Give Me A Sign – Keeper(1/2 Point)
Lovechild – Keeper
Long Way To Go – Keeper
Run With the Pack (Bad Company Cover) – Keeper
The Track Listing is 11.5 out of 12 or 96% which is almost flawless. But let’s be honest, this album is flawless. It is the perfect vehicle to highlight Jeff Scott’s vocals as this is his wheelhouse in style I like him the best. Fredrik Akesson is only 19 and he nails every note and solo perfectly. For a band that does this style of music, you need a gunslinger and they found it. Marcel’s bass playing might be one of my favorite things of Talisman. I love how prominent he is in the sound and he is the main songwriter along with Jeff. This is as close to perfect as you can get. My Overall Score is easily 5.0 out of 5.0 Starsand might be the best thing they ever did…I said might be.
The 2003 Reissue had a bonus disc of demos and rare cuts from the band and it is pretty great. It kicks off an early cut of “Time After Time” which is a rough mix and and a little more raw which is kind of nice. It is definitely not finished production wise and I like the feel of it. Then we get “Comin’ Home” which again, not finished so a little rougher around the edges but you can hear the magic of this one. “U Done Me Wrong” still has the bass solo opener, but the bass drum is weak and awful, probably a cheap drum machine place holder. Once the song kicks in it is back to what you know. “Give Me A Sign” is next and wasn’t my favorite song on the album, and still not here either. It still not a bad song, but weaker in comparison.
Then we get the Matti Alfonzetti sung songs. First up is “Fighting For Your Life” which is the original title of “All or Nothing”. Matti has a great voice and I do like this early version of the song. They completely redid the lyrics and Matti’s song writing credit with the studio album. Musically it is basically the same. This is a very rough demo and not produced very well (thus a demo I guess). It does have the energy of the final version though. Cool track though I see why the label wanted Jeff. Then we get his version of “Time After Time”. and I think it sounds great. Basically same song with re-worked lyrics as again, no Matti writing credit on the final version like their is with this one. I’m guessing he didn’t write the chorus cause that is no different. Strange. “Give Me A Sign” is back again with Matti and again, same song, reworked lyrics. The next Matti sung song is “Angel” which Talisman never actually recorded for a studio album because it was written by only Matti. It was released on a Bam Bam Boys album and a Matti solo album I believe. It is a cool song. “Lovechild” which is like the others, rough different lyrics.
The last song is a song called “Rainbow’s End” which is a rare Talisman holy grail type song. It was recorded with Thomas Vikstrom on vocals. Thomas was lead singer of a band called Horny Strings. He recorded some demos with Marcel, but little interest was ever gained on them. The song is a great hard rock song with a great solo by someone. Marcel’s bass work is prominent as you’d expect. This is a cool treasure. The last track is a video that can be played on your PC. It is for the song “Mysterious (This Time It’s Serious)” and a great piece to have as well all on one spot (and you can see the video earlier on in the post).
I’m not going to rate the Bonus disc because it is demos and not quite fair. But as a collector this is 100% cool!! And worth every penny to grab this if you see it. I hope you enjoyed this long run through the album. Thanks for hanging around this long.
For My Sunday Song #290, we are talking through the song “Humanimal” off the Talisman album ‘Humanimal’. The song is one of those songs that grabbed hold of me instantly and I was totally in love with this song and that feeling has never changed. I found the song because of Jeff Scott Soto and my quest to get everything he sang on and the song, along with album, are one of my favorites. The song was written by the late Marcel Jacob of the band. It is one of the few times it is just him and not both he and Jeff.
The song seems to be about the fact that no matter what we try and do, our inner instincts are to be predator and an outright animal. Underneath are facade is a little savagery, a little cruelty, a little greed. No matter how good we might be on the outside, this animal instinct is always lying underneath the surface, ready to strike, ready to emerge and be set free. And you know, he isn’t wrong as humans can be the cruelest animal to walk the face of the Earth.
Musically, the song sounds just as savage as the lyrics suggest. It is hard and heavy with pounding of the drums by Jamie Borger, the incredible bass work by Marcel Jacobs and the blistering guitar riffs and shredding by Fredrik Akesson. The attack the song with such brutal force that you are overwhelmed by the aggressive nature of the sounds, but you are engrossed by them as well. They grab hold and drive through every inch of your soul. Jeff Scott Soto’s vocals are equally aggressive, but so smooth and melodic that you find it familiar and satisfying. It is catchy and you can’t but join in and singalong. It drives that animal in you out in to the open.
For My Sunday Song #285, we are talking about the song “Outta My Way” by Talisman and another great Jeff Scott Soto song. The song was written by Marcel Jacob and Jeff Scott Soto and was off their stellar 2003 album ‘Cats & Dogs’. This was my gateway in to the band and might be the first one I bought. From there, it went nuts when it came to Talisman.
The song is an angry track and just seems to be about a guy that is ready to snap. He just needs that one push to send him over the edge and if he does, you better watch out as he will explode. It is as simple as that.
Musically, the song is explosive. It has a quick one two banging opening straight in to a Marcel Jacob bass solo then Jamie Borger goes ballistic on the drums with Fredrik Akesson throws down some stellar riffs. Soto attacks the vocals with so much angst and anger and you can feel the tension like he is going to explode. The song is a fireball of energy and its frantic pace is non-stop throughout. There is a great instrumental piece in the middle where Marcel and Fredrik trade bass and guitar licks back and forth and I love it. This song is a shining example why they were so great.