Human Clay – ‘U4IA’ (1997) – Album Review (The Jeff Scott Soto Series)

With Jeff Scott Soto still busy with Boogie Knights, his time with Axel Rudi Pell had come to an end. He was too busy to do both. However, he wasn’t too busy to play around with his good buddy Marcel Jacobs. Since Talisman was on hiatus, they decided to form Human Clay and pull together some of the old demos they hadn’t used with Talisman and make an album. That was the debut Human Clay album we reviewed a few weeks back. It was time for them to do another album together in Jeff’s spare time and this time around had a better batch of songs and they spent a little more money on it, double the last one.

As a result, the production was a lot better and so was the sound. This one sounded more like a Talisman record as the bass was more prominent in the mix and most importantly, the drums were actually real drums thanks to former Talisman drummer Jamie Borger. Jeff sounded great, they had real engineers this time around and it all came together much better. There was still no touring as Jeff’s other commitment made it too hard to do. In fact, Human Clay has never played live as a band and never will due the passing of Marcel in 2009. The Japanese label they were under actually had an option for a third album, but nothing ever came of that as one was never released or recorded that we know about.

My version of the album is a Japanese edition. It doesn’t have the OBI strip, but as you can see below, there is some Japanese at the bottom. Included in the CD was an extra booklet that was all in Japanese and being the Japanese edition, we get a bonus track. And that is really all the info I have on this one, so turn up the volume and let’s review the album.

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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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Talisman – ‘Life’ (1995) – Album Review (The Jeff Scott Soto Series)

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.

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Talisman – ‘Humanimal’ (1994) – Album Review (The Jeff Scott Soto Series)

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.

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Talisman – ‘Five Out Of Five (Live in Japan)’ (1994) – Album Review (The Jeff Scott Soto Series)

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.

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My Sunday Song – “Humanimal” by Talisman

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.

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My Sunday Song – “Outta My Way” by Talisman

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.

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My Sunday Song – “Nowhere Fast” by Talisman

For My Sunday Song #282, we are going to discuss the song “Nowhere Fast” by the Jeff Scott Soto fronted band, Talisman. The song was off their album “7” (of course, their seventh album) and was released in 2006. The album is the last studio album by Talisman as bassist and founding member Marcel Jacobs passed away a few years later before they could do another album.

The song “Nowhere Fast” was written by Marcel Jacob and Jeff Scott Soto. The song is lyrically simple. It actually starts out with the chorus and does a 3 line verse back to the chorus. It repeats this process several times and does it effectively. It makes the song catchy and memorable. Lyrically, the song is about a woman he wants to be with but she doesn’t necessarily want to be with him. His friends warn him that the relationship would go nowhere, but he is bound and determined to make it happen. First, he has to change her mind to wanting him. We don’t know now if he ever does, but it sounds like it was a valiant effot.

Musically, it is a juggernaut of infectious hooks and catchy choruses all encompassed in that Marcel Jacob bass sound. That funky bass sound opens the song and then Jeff Scott Soto’s vocals come in so smooth and melodic. Is it funk? Is it melodic rock? Well, it is both and so full of life. If I had to pick a song on what I loved about Talisman, this is one of them. It is full of pleasure and a sound that is music to my ears…literally!! And you know what else I like, guitar solos! And Fredrik Akesson lays down one that fits the song so perfectly. This song is total perfection.

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