Talisman – ‘Five Men Live’ (2005) – Album Review (The Jeff Scott Soto Series)

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.

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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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Jeff Scott Soto – ‘Prism’ (2002) – Album Review (The Jeff Scott Soto Series)

Rumors were flying that Jeff Scott Soto was going to leave The Boogie Knights and start concentrating on his solo career. Those rumors turned out true. Jeff started working with his Talisman bandmates on a side project called ‘Humanimal’ which was singed to Z-Records. Jeff was negotiating with Z-Records for a solo album and when things looked good and ready to go, Jeff and Z-Records split. Luckily, it wasn’t on bad terms as he continued with Humanimal until they had issues with Z-Records and that band was done.

Meanwhile, back on January 25, 2002, Frontiers Records had a press release that talked about them signing Jeff for his new solo album and if that was enough, they gained the rights to his debut solo album, ‘Love Parade’ and re-issued it as well. The new solo album was to be called ‘The Calm B4 The Storm’ and as Jeff has said, his earlier career was the Calm and what was coming after is The Storm. If Calm is being apart of 30+ albums over almost 20 years, I can’t wait to see what The Storm brings. However, that name was changed to Prism in parts due to where it was recorded, Prism Studios, and Jeff stating that is about a person that reflects many different lights. The album was released in December 4, 2002, I believe as I found the date on Discogs.

The new album was going to be done in the style of say Journey and Survivor which means it is power ballad heavy and not in a bad way. The songs were mostly done over the past few years for various projects that they didn’t quite fit so were never used and some new and all but one written by Soto. Jeff played most of the instruments and sang, but he was worried the label might not like that fact so he credited numerous fake people on the album. First is someone by the name of Michael Scott which is just Jeff’s middle name and his son’s middle name put together. He also credited two names that appeared in Jerky Boy’s episodes, Sam Isanogud and Mikos Scarbacci. There was also Jay Michael another reference to his son as well as Anthony Papa who is real, but didn’t actually play. That doesn’t mean there aren’t other musicians on the album because we do get Gary Schutt, Glenn Hughes and numerous Soto friends.

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Jeff Scott Soto – ‘Holding On’ E.P. (2002) – Album Review (The Jeff Scott Soto Series)

Jeff Scott Soto was ready to call it quits with The Boogie Nights as doing some solo work was starting to appeal to him as it had been years since his debut solo album. He thought about signing with Z-Records, but due to the problems with his band Humanimal, that was quickly nixed. He wound up with an Italian label called Frontiers Records. The deal included re-releasing his debut solo album ‘Love Parade’ as well as new material which was already in the works and would be released in late 2002.

I am not sure the actual release date of this E.P., but I am guessing it is prior to the album. The E.P. consists of the first single from his upcoming solo album ‘Prism’ called “Holding On”. It also includes a previously unreleased track and 2 live songs plus a re-release of a song from his debut solo album ‘Love Parade’. It is a great E.P. to have.

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Friday New Releases – August 12, 2022

Happy Friday everyone…you did it! You made it to another weekend and not a moment too soon. To celebrate, why don’t you help yourself to some new music. I know I will as there are two I’m really interested in and they are highlighted in Blue. Take a look through the batch we have for your this week as we have over 35 releases today. See which ones you want and let us know. Also, let us know what we may have missed so everyone else knows as well. Thanks for stopping by and I hope you all have a wonderful weekend.

  • 71wEDFrXRML._AC_UY436_FMwebp_QL65_  Hollywood Undead – Hotel Kalifornia – (BMG Rights Mgmt): I’m not a huge Rap fan by any means. Not something I like much. However, throw in some metal and hard rock beats and Hollywood Undead is something I really enjoy. They are now on their 8th Studio album and I am still along for the ride.
  • 91odpcia9kL._AC_UY436_FMwebp_QL65_  Collective Soul – Vibrating – (Fuzze-Flex Records): Collective Soul has been around since 1992 and 30 years later, still going strong. These local boys (well, close enough as they are from Stockbridge, GA and was from Marietta, GA) have been a favorite since the beginning and I am happy to add another album to the collection. They are on their 11th studio album and can’t wait.
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Jeff Scott Soto – ‘Love Parade’ (1994) – Album Review (The Jeff Scott Soto Series)

For the 10 years prior to this release, Jeff Scott Soto has been singing for other people and other bands. This time around it was all for himself. ‘Love Parade’ is Jeff’s first solo album and the first chance for people to see a side of Jeff they’ve never seen. That can be a good thing or a bad thing and for a lot of Jeff’s metal fans this album was a strange departure. It was because this was not a metal album or even a hard rock. It is more a funk, R&B and a rock album all rolled in to one. His influences are worn on his sleeves with this one.

The songs he compiled for this album were mostly old demos he had that never amounted to anything prior. He felt they truly represented who he was outside of the metal/rock world. There were several songs from his band Slam that never released anything. He had a couple songs from his girlfriend, Julie Greaux, that he was co-producer on. He took them, re-worked them and then sang on them.

Musicians on the album were some friends including Gary Schutt, who Jeff sang for on Gary’s debut solo album, played bass and guitar. His girlfriend, Julie Greaux did background vocals and keyboards. George Bernhardt played drums, bass and guitar as well. And Jeff played a little of everything as well including the singing. The album was released sometime in 1994/1995 on Long Island Records but the year depends on who you ask. The album didn’t make any major waves, but thankfully in 2002, Jeff signed with Frontiers Records and they re-released it and by this time it made bigger waves as he was more famous.

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Passion – Passion – Album Review

Passion’s debut album brings another great melodic rock album from the label Frontiers Records. The self-titled album came out back on January 24th, 2020 so I am a little late to the party.  Better late than never I always say…okay, not really.  I am sure you have some questions, so let’s get to those.

Question #1: Who are they?

Answer #1: The band is a four piece with the following members…

Lion Ravarez – Vocals
Chance Vanderlain – Guitar
Weston James – Bass
Bobby Laker – Drums

Lion Ravarez is actually Daniel Rossall, former singer of the band Night by Night.  His love for the 80’s music inspired the band and created something special.

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Question #2:  Why is this one worth listening to over all the label’s other releases or any other releases period?

Answer #2:  Simple…it takes you back to the 80’s hard rock you grew up loving (well, grew up with if you are my age).

Question #3: What do they sound like?

Answer #3:  Think Dokken, Slaughter and Danger Danger all rolled in to one.  A voice that can mirror Ted Poley (“Trespass on Love”), Don Dokken (“Lost in the Dark”) and even go all Mark Slaughter on you (“She Bites Hard”).  It is the best of everything you love about the 80’s from rockers to ballads what more could you want.

 

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Question #4:  What are the best songs on the album?

Answer #4: It would be too easy to say everyone of them, so I will give you some that really standout.  I have mentioned a few above in Question #3…

  • “Too Bad for Baby” sounds like Damn Yankees (and I think I read somewhere Rossall contributed to Revolution Saints with Jack Blades…if so…coincident…I think not)
  • “Back” has this confidence and strut to it and a vibe that fits almost any 80’s band
  • “We Do What We Want” – the Danger Danger vibe is strong with this one as did I mention that Lion sounds a lot like Ted…oh yeah,  I did, so it must be true!!

I hope that answered all your questions.  The album is a blast from the past and brings back the fun in rock that is surely missing nowadays.  I needed that lift right now with something that reminded me of old times, but still grounded enough that it sounded fresh to me.  Passion is a total blast.  They are a little of a parody of the genre and that is okay because I know they are for real.  I will give it a 4.5 out of 5.0 Stars.

Oh, sorry, you have one more question…

Question #5:  Should I Buy this album?

Answer #5:  Hell YES!!!!

The Defiants – ‘Zokusho’ – Album Review

Recently, I looked up the definition of the word “fun” in the Oxturd Dictionary and it told me the definition was “to be Defiant”.  I thought that sounded about right.  So, how could I be defiant.  Well, the quickest and easiest way was to pick up the latest release by the band The Defiants.  I figured that fit the bill of “fun” quite nicely.

And I was right!

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The band consists of three members all stemming from the band Danger Danger.  They are Bruno Ravel on bass, Rob Marcello on guitar and Paul Laine on vocals.  And to make the Danger Danger connection even stronger, drummer Steve West filled in on the kit for this recording.  Since Danger Danger still exists with lead singer Ted Poley, they couldn’t use that name so they came up with their own.

 

‘Zokusho’ is the band’s second album and the word actually means “sequel” or “next chapter” in Japanese which is actually what this record is.  The band picks up right where they left off on their debut.  If you liked 80’s rock and the whole melodic rock scene, let me tell you that it doesn’t get much better than this.

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C.F. Kip Winger – Solo Box Set Collection – Album Review

Kip Winger finally re-releases his solo albums after a time period where they were out of print.  The big difference this time is he has released them only in a box set simply called the Solo Box Set Collection.  The set includes 5 CD including his 4 solo album as well as a bonus CD of bonus tracks from all the Japanese editions of his albums and one new song.

Before Kip started with his solo albums, you would know he was in the band Winger, obviously.  Winger’s last studio album prior to the solo albums was 1993’s ‘Pull’ (and one of my favorite Winger albums).  After this album, the band sort of dissolved and wasn’t doing anything anymore.  Then in 1996 Kip started his solo career.  That solo career produced 3 studio albums, 1 acoustic album and now some Classical pieces that he did not include in this set.

Before we get into the music, let’s talk about the set itself.  It comes in a very sturdy box that was nice and thick, well made and should last a long time.  The one thing you notice is the sad figure on the cover.  I am sure it is some famous painting or something, but I do not know who it is or what the story is with the picture.  Another thing you notice is Kip’s name.  He now puts C.F. Kip Winger as his name.  He has been doing that with his Classical pieces he has written and now it is spilling over into his other solo work.  The C.F. are his initials for his name Charles Frederick Kip Winger.  Maybe “Kip” didn’t sound professional enough for the classical music scene.

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Michael Bolton – ‘Songs of Cinema’ – Album Review

Now before I get into the album review, let me preface this with that I am a fan of Michael Bolton’s earlier work starting with his 1983 release ‘Michael Bolton’ which had “Fool’s Game” up until ‘Time, Love & Tenderness’ in 1991.  After that it started to go down hill for me as he was doing way too many covers.  More covers than originals, which is disappointing.  He was also getting further and further from his original rock roots (listen to his early releases and you will hear what I am talking about).

Several months back, I heard Michael was signing with Frontiers Records Srl and I was actually excited to hear that as Frontiers is a great record label and they are a ROCK record label.  They have brought back many bands of my youth and signed them including Night Ranger and Stryper and now Michael Bolton.

Imagine my utter disappointment when I heard the new Michael Bolton album was a cover album of movie songs called ‘Songs of Cinema’.  Wow!!  It is just what I wanted (heavy, heavy sarcasm)!  I told myself going into it, I would keep an open mind and give it a solid listen…which I feel I did for about 30 seconds.

What songs did he cover?  I will tell you.

It starts off with “When A Man Loves A Woman”. Hasn’t he done that one before? Why yes he has, but this one is different…it is the 2017 Version.  Oh yeah, that is right…I am supposed to keep an open mind.  I am sorry, but I can’t. That ship has sailed.  When the first song is a rehash of an old song that you have already covered, you lost me.  The original one he did back in 1991 was so much better.

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