2002 was a big year for Jeff Scott Soto. It was the year of his coming out as a solo artist. Yes, he released a solo album back in 1994, but the intent was not to tour and showcase as a solo artist. He had signed with Frontiers Records and was getting ready to release his 2nd solo album ‘Prism’, but before that Frontiers’ promotional crew were in high gear. With press releases and having Jeff involved in the 10th Anniversary of The Gods Festival. The festival consists of artists/bands from the Frontiers Records label as well as Now & Then label.
The festival occurred on June 2, 2002 and was to be released as a live album and a DVD. I only have the live album, I need to get the DVD still. The line-up was pretty impressive as it had Eric Martin, Hardline, Harem Scarem, Honeymoon Suite, Ten, Soto and several other bands. It took place at Pennington’s in Bradford, England and what I’ve read, it was a helluva show by all.
Jeff’s band that night consisted of some old familiar friends including Alex Papa on drums, Gary Schutt on bass & acoustic guitar (did an album review of his for this series) and on guitar, Howie Simon. JSS is listed as “Top Dog” and he is right. It is his show, his songs, his voice everyone came to hear. He proved that when he came out on stage, alone, dressed all in black and did “2 Your Heart” a cappella. The song is from the debut Human Clay album. Jeff proved that voice is for real. The band comes in full force as the race through the Queen cover “Let Me Entertain You” which is appropriate because Soto does just that.
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.
After the release of Cheap Trick’s second album, ‘In Color’, the band was getting quite a bit of recognition in Japan. So, a week after third album, ‘Heaven Tonight”, was released, the band did a quick tour in April of 1978 and they didn’t waste any time playing those songs. The band’s reception was nothing short of amazing. It was Beatlemania 2.0 as the Japanese fans went…well…fanatical. While in Japan, they decided to record the shows at Nippon Budokan in Tokyo and release the album in Japan only.
Here is a little fact for you, the recordings done at Nippon Budokan really sucked and the recording is actually the show in Osaka, but don’t tell anyone. Okay, don’t know if that is a fact, but I did read that somewhere so we will continue that statement here as it is cool if it is true. Regardless of where it was recorded, the show is amazing and the release in Japan on October 8, 1978 saw tremendous success, so much so that 30,000 copies of it were sold as imports to the US which prompted the label to finally release it in the US in February 1979 under the name ‘Cheap Trick at Budokan’. The album would go on to be one of the biggest selling albums in the band’s career selling over 3 million copies and go to #4 on the Billboard Charts. Rolling Stones said it was one of the 500 greatest albums of all time in 2003 where it ranked at #426.
The album also introduced us to 2 new songs that had not been released yet and one of those, “Need Your Love” would wind up on their next album ‘Dream Police’. The other song, “Lookout”, was a leftover from their debut and would end up being released as a bonus track on later editions of the album starting in 1998. Due to the popularity of Budokan, the ‘Dream Police’ released date got pushed back as they were still having hit singles from this album. Not a bad problem to have actually.
Towards the end of 1980, Whitesnake released their first live album called ‘Live…in the Heart of the City’. It was released on November 3rd, 1980 and was originally released as a double LP with 2 different shows. The first being from June 1980 at the Hammersmith Odeon in London and the second show as from November 23rd, 1978 at the same place. This review, however, is only on the LP version that I have which is only a single LP version with only the 1980 Hammersmith show and missing one song the original had (“Ready an’ Willing”).
The tour recorded for this one is the ‘Ready ‘n’ Willing’ Tour that features new drummer, former Deep Purple master Ian Paice. And it caught the band at a time when they were starting to finally come into their own. The track list of the single LP is as follows:
Walking in the Shadow of the Blues
AIn’t No Love in the Heart of the City
Fool For Your Loving
Take Me With You
It is short at only 7 songs, but one is 11 minutes long and 2 are over 6 minutes each and all a blast.
Side one opens with the screamer “Come On” from the ‘Snakebite’ E.P. and what a fantastic way to open the show. A high energy romp that gets everyone on their feet and in to the groove of what is to come. The band is on fire and David sounds in top form. The band glides effortlessly in to “Sweet Talker” from ‘Ready an’ Willing’ with loads of Micky Moody’s slide guitar and let me tell you the guitars on here are killer. The tempo of the song is ramped up to 10 and the fly through this one at warp speed. And don’t forget the Jon Lord keyboard solo in this one that goes right in to Micky’s guitar solo…hell yeah baby! Keep it coming!
The band goes in to two straight ‘Lovehunter’ songs starting with the blues song “Walking in the Shadow of the Blues”. Bernie Marsden takes over the lead on the guitar work in this one accompanied by the great Lord on keyboards. Ian supplying just the right amount of drum fills and as he Neil Murray on bass lay down that all essential groove. But it is the song “Love Hunter” that is the showcase on this side. At 11 minutes, including a Micky Moody showcase of his slide guitar work, the live version takes the song in to so many different directions and is what I love about live shows. David singing here is great as well as he isn’t trying to over sing it and he has seem to found his comfort zone.
“Aint’ No Love in the Heart of the City” opens up Side Two and gives us the name to the album. It is a bluesy track that keeps a slow groove and let me tell you that the guitar work Moody does is sensational. The crowd takes over with Murray’s bass thumping away in the background along with Paice keeping time.
And then we get David’s favorite concert saying “Here’s a Song for You” as he does it a lot. They go in to the classic “Fool For Your Loving” from ‘Ready an’ Willing’. The song is a little punchier then the album version, it actually reminds me a little more of what was to come with the song in the late 80’s and I am okay with that. It is a rocking good song.
The last song is the only song from the album ‘Trouble’, “Take Me With You”. The band is amped up on something as they speed this one up to an exhausting tempo that would leave a lesser band spent. They feed off the energy and everyone gets a moment to shine with Jon Lord’s blistering keyboard solo, Bernie’s raging guitar solo, a little of Murray’s bass, and Moody blasting through some riffs. David and company brought all home on this one.
And that is the album. It is a great live set that I thoroughly enjoyed. Short and sweet and captures some great moments. The band was really cooking at this time and they boiled over some fine work with this release. The first of many live albums to come with Whitesnake and this one started it off right. I will give it a 4.0 out of 5.0 Starsmainly for not giving me the whole show. This one is a must grab if you find it out in the wild. Don’t let it slip past you.
For the regulars of my site, they already know I am a huge Matt Nathanson fan. For those non-regulars, I will let you know I am a huge Matt Nathanson fan. I have been re-exploring his earlier catalog lately and I want to point out a great live set he has available called ‘At the Point’.
‘At the Point’ was recorded, well, at The Point. The Point is an intimate club in Philadelphia, PA. It was recorded in the Summer of 2005 and released in 2006. It is only Matt and his acoustic guitar. Nothing or no one else.
What I love about this album is it is a lot of his old songs from before my discovery of Matt which was around 2007 or so. The album showcases his live performance, his ability to own a crowd, his comedic stylings (he is one funny SOB), his voice and most importantly his songwriting and musicianship.
From such classics as “Church Clothes”, “Answering Machine”, “Curve of the Earth” and “I Saw” to his cover of Dire Straits’ “Romeo and Juliet” and Drivin’ N Cryin’s “Straight to Hell”, you get lost in his performances as they are delivered so flawlessly and seem so personal. You get laughs as he tells stories that will have you laughing your ass off and you just get an hour and seven minutes of pure enjoyment. This is what a live album should be. Something you can feel and connect with.
Before I get to the next studio album in the Billy Idol series, I thought I would throw in a bonus Generation X Bootleg album out of Italy. This 2LP Set is called the BBC Transcription Disc Series No. 126 – 1978. It is live show from December 8th, 1978 out of Sheffield, England. It is an unofficial release so therefore, a bootleg. And it is fantastic.
I was in New York at this great little record store in Greenwich Village and came across this disc. I was talking with the clerk asking about any Generation X on vinyl and he told me I needed this one and man he was right.
Generation X was criticized on their studio albums for trying to be more commercial than Punk. Well, the live album shows they were a real Punk band. I find this live show to really show off what this band was all about. You can hear the attitude in the guitar playing and the drumming. And of course, Billy’s snarling and attitude is pure punk with a big FU to everyone.
John 5 & the Creatures bring us a new album to start the year off and this time we get their first live album. ‘It’s Alive’ was recorded live off the Season of the Witch Tour in 2017 at the Sellersville Theater in Sellersville, Pennsylvania in April 2017. The band consists of John 5 on lead guitar, Ian Ross on bass and Logan Miles Nix on drums. The amount of music that comes out of these there guys for this album is incredible.
In listening to an interview with John 5 on Talking Metal with Emily Strigl, I learned that album was recorded rather spontaneously. They arrived at the theater the day of the show and someone from the theater asked them if they wanted to record the show as they had a recording booth upstairs. The band joyfully said yes. And a little less than a year later, we have a live album released.
John 5 also stated in the interview that there are no overdubs or any re-recordings. What you hear is what you get. And what you hear is a live album that is near perfection which is also a little of the drawback. The album at times doesn’t sound live as the musicianship is absolutely incredible. There are probably errors, but they are not noticeable (at least to my untrained ears).