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.
For My Sunday Song #301, we are kicking off the next 10 song set with Aerosmith and first up is “Lightning Strikes” off their 1982 album ‘Rock in a Hard Place’. The song was released as a single on August 27, 1982 and is noted as the only charted song the band had without Joe Perry in the band. This had Jimmy Crespo on guitar who replaced Joe after he left in 1979. The song went to #21 on the U.S. Mainstream Rock Tracks Chart.
The song was written by Steven Tyler, Jimmy Crespo and Richie Supa (who replaced Joe first before the full time replacement was found in Crespo). It is basically about a gang fight. Not any old gang fight, it seems like an old 50’s/60’s style fight with leather jackets and knives. It is only missing Fonzi!! All seriousness aside, it does capture the toughness on the streets and has a solid story.
This is one of the best Aerosmith songs of all time…Sorry…but it is…get over it!! “Lightning Strikes” has this slow build up that explodes in to this rough and tumble, balling and brawling masterpiece. The song is heavy, it is tough, it is mean and it is fan”freaking”tastic! It actually starts off with some keyboard before Joey slams down some drum beats then the guitar slowly build in with more Joey fills. Steven sounds like he is ready to rumble which makes sense it is about gang fighting. It even ends with some Thunder rolling in. This was the only song Brad Whitford appeared for the album and it was as rhythm guitar since Crespo did the solo .
In 1989, Marcel Jacob had label interest but no band. You remember Marcel, he was in Yngwie Malmsteem’s Rising Force with Jeff Scott Soto. Although the two didn’t hit it off at first as their musical upbringing were so different. Marcel was a European music snob and Jeff was simple uncultured American. Over time, they became friends and Marcel needed help from his friend for a project he was working on that had no singer. He asked Jeff to sing the songs for the album.
Marcel’s project was originally called Guitars on Fire, but after the songs were completed and mixed, the name changed to Talisman. But the album almost didn’t happen. At the time of recording the album, Jeff Scott Soto was in a band called Eyes and his contract had him exclusively which means, Jeff can’t do anything outside of Eyes. At the time, Jeff was broke, and I mean flat broke. He needed money fast. So Jeff talked to his label, begged and pleaded and made them understand that this album is a one-off and wouldn’t compete with Eyes. It would have limited release only in Sweden so they had nothing to fear. And you know, they bought it.
Jeff went to Sweden and recorded the album with Jacob in 1989. For the album, you had Marcel Jacob on bass, drums (except for two tracks), keyboards and guitar. Jeff Scott Soto handled the vocals, Christopher Stahl on guitar, Mats Lindfors on guitar, Mats Olassaon on keyboard, and Peter Hermansson on drums for the two tracks Marcel didn’t play on.
By the time the 80’s hit, Aerosmith was a mess. Joe Perry was out of the band and Steven’s drug use was way out of control. During the Fall of 1980, Steven was in a horrendous motorcycle accident which put him out of commission for months upon months. When the band finally went back in to the recording studio, things weren’t any better. After recording the first song and single, “Lightning Strikes”, Brad Whitford was done as well. He picked up his toys from the attic and walked away.
Was the band near the end? Probably pretty close. But there was an old friend that came back in to the mix. Famed producer, Jack Douglas, was back to produce the album. Jack had done all the band’s big albums and they really needed a friendly face to help them navigate this mess.
So who was still in the band? You have Steven Tyler, Joey Kramer and Tom Hamilton of course. Then Jimmy Crespo was still around after replacing Joe Perry and the newest member was guitarist Rick Dufay. However, he was brought in after the album was done and didn’t actually play on it although he was credited. The album is also notable for its price tag. Because of how long it took to record (1981-1982), the cost of the album was immense at around $1.5 million. That was an unheard of price tag in those days.
After the stellar performance of the prior album ‘Redeemer of Souls’ thanks in large part of the addition of Richie Faulkner, the band started work on the next album in 2016. However, it took a long time to finally get to the studios in March of 2017 and the band would go until June to finish the recording. The album then sat for months on months and finally get released on March 9, 2018 where it went on to sell around 49,000 copies in the first week putting it at #5 and their highest chart position. Yeah, 49,000 is a far cry from their heydays, but 49,000 in 2018 for any band is a decent week of sales…oh how things have changed.
But sometimes things to don’t change as the band brought back former producer Tom Allom in to the mix to co-produce the album with Andy Sneap. It had been since 1988’s ‘Ram It Down” as the last time they worked with Allom, so 30 years. That is a long gap. Andy would have such an impact with the band, he would actually go on tour with the band as guitarist. The reason for that was due to some sad news from the camp. The great Glenn Tipton was retiring from touring due to his battle with Parkinson’s Disease. The illness was getting to be too much to play some of the more challenging parts in songs. That doesn’t mean he didn’t pop up on stage every now and again when he felt good enough to play because he did. Glenn is still a member of the band and will still help creatively and in recording. Touring is just too much and too unpredictable on how he’ll feel.
One of the really cool things about this album is the cover art. I remember seeing this and thinking, Damn! That is a cool cover. The next thing I know, there was a filter or something because people started replacing their cover picture on Facebook with their name in Judas Priest Firepower font. It was cool. I didn’t do it though as I was probably too lazy as it seemed like to much work and I didn’t want to be a follower, as I am a leader…no, who am I kidding, it was the laziness part!!
It is hard to believe this is the 10th “My First Time” selection. That means there only two more to go in the series before I call it quits. My intention was one a month for a full year. For the 10th selection, I have chosen the album that was ‘My First Time’ with Ozzy Osbourne. That album was ‘The Ultimate Sin’. It took up to his fourth solo release before I actually bought anything Ozzy Osbourne.
The album came out on February 22, 1986 and at the time was Ozzy’s most successful album. It would go on to sell over 2 million copies and cemented me as a fan. I had never been into Ozzy’s music prior (with the exception of “Crazy Train”), but there was something about this album I liked. It felt more accessible to me. The tunes were more melodic and not as hard as I imagined an Ozzy album to be. It helped that the first single “Shot in the Dark” received massive airplay on MTV.
Ozzy is always known for having outstanding musicians on an album and this one was no different. The guitarist at the time was none other than Jake E. Lee. This would end up being his last album with Ozzy. He would do some solo stuff and founded Badlands, but he would then disappear for years until his recent return with Red Dragon Cartel. Most of the music on the album was written by Jake, but since he had been screwed out of writing credits on previous albums, he wouldn’t contribute anything else until he was assured credit. Once a contract was in place, BOOM, we have a new Ozzy album.