We are here with yet another Jeff Scott Soto release and this one is quite unique. It is called ‘B-Sides’ and consists of unreleased tracks, bonus tracks, duets as well as songs used for Tribute albums. It shows as it is an official release from Frontiers Records, but it is very cheap looking. The CDs themselves do say these are “Not For Sale, For Promo Use Only”, but they seem like bootlegs. However, discogs has them on their site and they do not list it as ‘Unofficial’ so everything actually leads me to believe this is a real Frontiers Records release. And yet, the mix of it is not that great as the volume between songs has not been equalized as some songs are louder than others. I don’t know what to think, but I have a copy and I am pretty stoked about it. I am curious as to why the reason behind this product though, so if anyone knows, please let me know in the comments below.
The main reason I’m stoked is that it saves me a ton of money from going and buying all the albums that these songs are on. Most are on an album from another artist that Jeff appears on or Tribute albums where this is probably the only song I would want any way. To have them all in one compilation I would say is big win. One thing that sort of stinks about this is the liner notes on the CD booklet. As you can see from a picture further down the post, there is a fantastic Track List of CD 2 and where the songs originated from, but the left side of the picture does not have the track list for CD 1 and where the songs originated. That is actually a misprint because I have seen pictures of the inner sleeve that have the CD 1 track list breakdown. If the list is there or not, this is still a pretty cool piece in the Soto collection.
The first song was a cassette only bonus track from Jeff’s first band, Panther. “Set Me Free” one of my favorite songs on that album. Soto attacks it with a deeper tone and yet still soars with some high notes. The drumming on it is immense with some great fills. The guitar solo is typical for the time to see how fast he can go, but its great. It definitely takes me back to the 80’s with this one. The next three tracks,”Act of Sympathy”, “Highway to Nowhere” and “Mental Ward” were demos from Jeff’s work with is buddy Gary Schutt on his album ‘Sentimetal’ that Jeff sang lead on. “Act” is pure metal, heavy, dark and Jeff sounds great but a lot of echo…again, this is a demo so not fully polished. Same with “Highway” except it is a little more speed metal, some kickass double bass drum, a real killer track. “Mental Ward” comes off feeling like a leftover track from Jeff’s worker with Biker Mice From Mars soundtrack. It has that same campy, cartoony feel to it.
After the Magic Tour ended in 1986, which was supporting the album ‘A Kind of Magic’, the band took a break. Not much happened in 1987 and the band went its longest time between albums. They finally did start recording a new album in January 1988 and it took a whole year before they were finally finished in January 1989. The band was going through a lot during this time period. Brian May was going through a very tumultuous marital problems that actually put him in to depression. And to make matters worse, Freddie had been diagnosed with HIV and suffering through the effects of that illness. At the time, there had been speculation of Freddie’s illness but at the time, it wasn’t confirmed publicly although the band was well aware of the diagnosis.
The album was finished and was finally released on May 22, 1989 and titled ‘The Miracle’ which sounds like that is exactly what it was to get the album finished. At one time, the album title was going to be ‘The Invisible Men’ but was changed suddenly at the last minute. I think the final title fits what was going on in their lives. Thankfully, we got another album from the band. The album went to #1 in several countries, including the UK, but only hit #24 in the US. It was certified Platinum in the UK, but I don’t believe has ever been certified Gold or anything in the US. For me, it was a day one purchase so I know they sold at least one copy in the US.
The band did something different with this album as well. All the songs were credited to the band ‘Queen’ and not to each individual member that actually wrote the song. The band was being more collaborative and felt this was the right thing to do. Now, however, we know who actually wrote each song but I liked the fact at this point in their career, they felt that crediting it to each member was the right thing to do. The album cover with the faces morphed together as one is in line with the collaborative feeling.
John 5 and the Creatures are back with their second studio release called ‘Invasion’. Their first album together was their 2017 release, ‘Season of the Witch’, which was a nightmarishly spectacular release. John 5 is currently one of my favorite guitarists in rock today and man is he everywhere. He is always writing for other artists and when he isn’t doing that or playing with the Creatures, he is on tour with Rob Zombie.
And if that isn’t enough, you should check out his Instagram page as he is constantly posting videos of him noodling around with his guitars usually wearing interesting masks and/or costumes and those hairless cats of his walking around. He knows how to keep you coming back.
And he keeps me coming back. When this album came out on July 31st, I am not sure I have stopped playing it since that day. It has been on constant rotation. And I have to say , I might like this one better than ‘Season of the Witch’ which I didn’t think would be possible. John 5 and the creatures, Ian Ross and Logan Miles Nix are nothing short of spectacular.
The album kicks off with a storm brewing as the band readies itself to invade every piece of your body. The ominous bass and hard hitting drums come across with an eeriness that is ready to battle and then John 5 comes blasting in with his killer riffs to lay waste to the land. And the “Invasion” has begun.
After the disappointing sales of their album ‘Detonator’, Ratt seemed to be falling apart. Robbin Crosby would leave the band due to his substance abuse problem and the dominos would fall from there. The band went on “hiatus” in 1992 and it felt like the band was done. Well, the weren’t just year.
In 1997, reunion talks began with the five original members. However, Robbin Crosby developed HIV due to his substance abuse problem and was in no shape to carry-on. Juan Croucier would soon afterwards decide he didn’t want to re-join the band. So that left Stephen Pearcy, Warren DeMartini and Bobby Blotzer and they decided to continue as Ratt and the set out to go on tour. Before they did that, the decision was made to release a compilation album of B-sides, alternate recordings and even re-work some old Mickey Ratt tunes.
I wasn’t planning on reviewing any compilation albums in my Ratt Review Series, but this one was different as it wasn’t a greatest hits collection. Being that most of the songs haven’t been on any Ratt album, I decided it was worth getting a review of it’s own. I will warn you, this is a collection of songs that is strictly for Ratt fans.