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 – ‘Lost in the Translation’ (2004) – Album Review (The Jeff Scott Soto Series)

As I had mentioned previously, 2004 was going to be a big year for Jeff Scott Soto. His introduction to Neal Schon during NAMM in January 2004, was the sign. Schon played on and co-wrote a song on his solo album, ‘Lost in the Translation’, which we are reviewing now and it led to a new band later that year and the Journey frontman shortly after that. Before we get ahed of ourselves, let us focus on the solo album first. And there is a live album to come out before Schon’s stuff as well.

‘Lost in the Translation’ is Jeff’s third solo album and what a step up from the prior two. He still had his good buddies playing on it – Howie Simon and Gary Schutt on guitar duty and Glen Sobel on drums and a guest appearance by Mr. Schon himself. It was a solid line-up, a solid album and would see Jeff head out on a full world tour that would last for 35 gigs and hit 4 continents that would run from August to November of 2004. Jeff was hitting his stride, finding his footing and the world was learning who he was. I know I did because it was this album and Talisman’s ‘Cats & Dogs’ where I discovered the greatness that is Jeff Scott Soto all thanks to Andrew McNiece at MelodicRock.com. Also, note the cover photo and under his right arm is Jeff’s autograph. This is one of the 5 albums I had him sign when I met him back in April 2022. Really Cool!!

The first track and single is “Believe in Me”. It was co-written by Jeff along with Neal Schon. I told you they began a great relationship…fruitful already. And let me tell you, it could be a Journey song. Not a ballad either, one of the rocking tracks. The opening guitar riff is cool as Schon shreds it. Jeff’s vocals are so smooth and melodic and you know what, he would sound great singing Journey songs…maybe that will happen!! (maybe real soon). You had Glen Sobel on drums and Jeff on bass and everyone sounded tight and laid down a great rhythm. A totally stellar track and very radio friendly even though no radio around here played it!

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Jeff Scott Soto – ‘Beleive In Me’ E.P. (2004) – Album Review (The Jeff Scott Soto Series)

2004 turned out to be a big year for Jeff Scott Soto. While at NAMM in January of 2002, he did a jam session with none other than Neal Schon and that turned in to a great little business relationship and would see the guys team up a couple times. But before we get to the first of the two projects for them, Jeff had a new solo album to put out on Frontiers Records, who had been really great to Jeff (proof in that partnership is still going strong today). Prior to the release of the solo album, an E.P. was issued for the lead off track & single on the album.

The E.P. was called the “Believe in Me” E.P. and contained only the one studio track from the album plus the video for that song. Then we get not 1, not 2, but 4 bonus tracks that are all previously unreleased demos from various projects of Jeff’s. As a collector, how cool is that!!! We will see how cool as we go through the tracks.

The first track and single is “Believe in Me”. It was co-written by Jeff along with Neal Schon. I told you they began a great relationship…fruitful already. And let me tell you, it could be a Journey song. Not a ballad either, one of the rocking tracks. The opening guitar riff is cool as Schon shreds it. Jeff’s vocals are so smooth and melodic and you know what, he would sound great singing Journey songs…maybe that will happen!! (maybe real soon). You had Glen Sobel on drums and Jeff on bass and everyone sounded tight and laid down a great rhythm. A totally stellar track and very radio friendly even though no radio around here played it!

Continue reading “Jeff Scott Soto – ‘Beleive In Me’ E.P. (2004) – Album Review (The Jeff Scott Soto Series)”

My Sunday Song – “New Position” by Soul Sirkus

For My Sunday Song #283, we are going to dissect the song “New Position” by Soul Sirkus which was a Jeff Scott Soto side project with Neal Schon (Journey), Marco Mendoza (The Dead Daisies) and Virgil Donati on drums. They had only one album called ‘World Play’ back in 2005. If you get the European edition of the release, there is a DVD with the video for the song as well. The song was technically a single, but I don’t know if it charting.

The song was written by Neal Schon and Jeff Scott Soto. It is seems to be about a woman and is full of sexual innuendos with the title alone. The singer has aching for this woman and so wants her and believes he can show her things that she may have forgotten about…hmmm…I wonder what that could be!! This isn’t rocket science lyrics, no sir. It is rock & roll baby!! Keep it simple, sexual and jamming…and they do just that.

Musically, the song opens with a machine gun barrage drum fills from Virgil showing he means business. Marco’s bass is slamming helping give us a fiery, groovetastic, good time song that will rock your ass off. Neal Schon’s guitar mastery is on full display as he lays down some killer riffs and don’t get me started on the solo. Man, he is killing it. Jeff Scott Soto is full of swagger and confidence as he delivers a stellar vocal full of harmonies and so much power. This album is a showcase of his talents and why Neal tapped him to lead Journey on tour, sadly, no album was ever done before Jeff was dismissed.

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You Pick It! – Which Album to Review in September? (Updated)

NOTE: I had to make a change to the New Release – KK’s Priest was moved to October 1st as release date so would now not be out in time to review for September. Sorry for the last minute change. I think Iron Maiden is a suitable replacement.

You, my reader, are going to pick an album for me to review each month.  It is really simple…first, I will give you 5 albums to choose from and second, you will tell me which one of those you would like to see reviewed on the site.  See…simple!

There are a few simple rules I have put in to place in my selections.  They are…

  • One has to be a new release (within the last month)
  • One has to be one I have never heard before (new releases don’t count for this one)
  • One has to be from a genre I don’t normally listen to at all or very often
  • And the last two are choices from my collection that I haven’t reviewed before

What are the 5 albums you ask?  Funny you should ask because I have those right here…

  New Release – Iron Maiden – “Senjutsu”

  Never Heard Before – Captain Beefheart – ‘Trout Mask Replica’

  Not My Normal Genre – Dr. John, ‘GRIS-Gris’

  From My Collection – Neal Schon – ‘Late Nite’

  From My Collection – U2 – ‘The Joshua Tree’

Let me know which one you would like to see and sometime in September, I will post a review of the album that gets the most votes. You have one week to decide and from there I will start listening to the album and do a review.

Thanks for participating!!

June 2021 Purchases – Vinyl & CDs

We are now half way through the year, man, that is so hard to believe. Before we know it, the year will be over 2022 will be upon us, but for that, let us see what June had in store for 2 Loud 2 Old Music. The month started off with my youngest daughter and I doing some thrift store shopping. I didn’t expect to be buying any music there, but lo and behold, they actually had some CDs for $1 a piece so I grabbed a few (or more). I got Seal, Jonny Lang, Eric Clapton and David Lanz…

I also picked up a couple of Cheap Trick albums. I had a gift card to Amazon from MyPoints.com and so I picked up Special One on CD and then their latest album finally arrived a month after it was released…it must have been lost In Another World for a little while…

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Journey – Concert Review (Charlotte, NC June 9th, 2018)

Yesterday, I did the review on the Def Leppard part of the show (since they opened the show they should get the first review).  Now, it is time to talk about Journey’s portion of the show.  After seeing Lep, I was really pumped and excited to finally see Journey live.  I have never had the pleasure and I can’t believe I missed them in the Steve Perry years.  Journey has survived all these years because they have something a lot of bands don’t really have and that is songs.  Journey’s hits are some of the most loved and admired songs ever.  I mean  “Don’t Stop Believin'” might be the most recognizable song around the world.

The band is still pretty much in tact.  At least the band from the era I grew up with. You have founder Neal Schon, Jonathan Cain, Ross Valory and Steve Smith.  All these guys were there doing the early 80’s and their heyday.  11 years ago they added vocalist Arnel Pineda who they found off Youtube and let me tell you what a find he was.  I still wish they would have done more with Jeff Scott Soto, but oh well.  Arnel is pretty darn good vocalist.

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The stage set up was slightly different than Def Leppard’s, but not by much.  They both used the big 40 Foot screen in the back and the 3 large screens up top on the front of the stage.  Journey stripped back all the risers and platforms that Def Leppard used and had a much simpler set up.  Piano on the left, drums in the middle, Ross and Neal up front and Arnel all over the place (more on that later).

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Journey – “Open Arms” (The 45 Single)

One of the most recognizable songs in the Journey catalog was “Open Arms”.  It was from the ‘Escape’ album and the single was released in January of 1982.  The song did pretty damn good and went to #2 on the Billboard Hot 100, but for some reason it couldn’t hit that #1 spot.  However, that is still one of the highest chart positions the band ever reached for a single if not the highest.

The song is believed by many to be one of the greatest power ballads ever written and is said to be one of the main catalyst for starting the power ballad movement in the 80’s.  The funny thing is that most members of the band other than Steve & Jonathan did not want the song on the album.  It was too sugary sweet for their tastes.  As tie has shown, those members of the band were wrong.

Or were they.  The band became known for this sound and it changed everything for the band from that point on.  They had to have power ballads on every album as they were now expected from the band.  And they did end up writing many more great ones and went on to superstar status.  It did get them huge successes and paydays, but was it worth it?  Probably so.

The song was brought to the band by Jonathan Cain as he already had the melody written when he tried to use it for his previous band, The Babys.  However, vocalist John Waite, was not real keen on the song and said it was too syrupy.  Wow, both bands originally stated the same thing…both were wrong.

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“My First Time” with Journey’s ‘Frontiers’

Love It or Hate It, Journey went down a whole new path with the release of ‘Frontiers’. After the incredible success of the album, ‘Escape’, the ballad became King for Journey. Some feel it was the start of the downfall, others think it is the pinnacle of their success. I think it is a little of both.

With the success of ‘Escape’, Journey was catapulted into the stratosphere of popularity. They were one of the biggest bands in the world.  Steve Perry had the most recognizable voices on the radio and probably one of the absolute best voices on the radio at the time…if not ever.  The man could sing.  But for some reason I still hadn’t bought a Journey album.  When I heard their second single of their latest album, ‘Frontiers’, I finally bought my first Journey album.  The single was for “Faithfully”.

There is so much to love about this album and there is so much to pick on the band for about this album.  Let’s start with the picking on piece first as it is the most fun.  Oh, where to begin…

Let’s start with the album cover…I picture of a futuristic, robotic looking head or maybe a futuristic, human head.  Not sure I get it, but I know it has to do with the name of the album, ‘Frontiers’ as I think the band was saying they were reaching into a new frontier. The amazing artwork from the previous albums was no more.  The whole continuity between all the other album covers was gone…and is sadly missed.

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