I was scouring eBay for a few of the remaining Soto albums I don’t have, and sadly, none were for sale at the time. However, I cam across something I had never seen before. It was a bootleg of Jeff Scott Soto demos. And to top it off, it was actually signed by Jeff Scott Soto. The person I bought it from lives in Germany and his name was Stefan. It turns out, Stefan is the lead singer of the band Speed Limit (check them out, they are pretty cool) and he had opened for Soto on a tour and actually met Jeff and got him to sign the CD. I thought all that was pretty cool and I love having a story behind my purchase.
LA ROCKS DEMOS:
So, what is this CD? It is a bootleg, mostly of demos from Jeff’s early years with LA Rocks and with Vinnie Vincent. We never got any albums out of those two projects, but at least we have some demos. The first set of songs say they are from his band LA Rocks. Back in 1986, Aldy Damian approached Jeff about joining the band. Jeff was busy with his own band called L’amour at the time and so he wasn’t really interested in joining LA Rocks. However, he did agree to do a couple demos for them and they paid him, so how could he say no. After Jeff, turned it down, they went after James Christian and he agreed. James became known for his other band House of Lords later.
The project didn’t end up going anywhere and the band later on became known as something you are more familiar with as we have discussed them in this series and that is the band Eyes of which Jeff sang on a couple of their albums. It all comes around full circle in the end. These set of songs here under the LA Rock Demos section, are a mixture of LA Rocks and Eyes demos and some aren’t even either band. The tracks “Hands of Time” and “Heart of the Fire” were demos for songs used on the movie ‘Rich Girl’. The songs “For You”, “Till the End of Time” and “Nobody Said it was Easy” are all demos for the band Eyes. And the song “Hold On”, not really sure where that is from but maybe it is from LA Rocks.
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.
The debut Eyes album didn’t do very well. The band was stalling and Jeff Scott Soto started writing with George Bernhardt for a new band he was in called Slam as Jeff wasn’t happy with the direction the band was going. He eventually had enough and left the band. Then suddenly just two years after the Eyes debut, ‘Windows of the Soul’ was released and Jeff was never told nor did he ever agree to its release. To say he was pissed would be an understatement. The reason for its release was due to Jeff’s popularity in Europe had been on the rise and the record company wanted to take advantage of it.
Is it really a new album? No, not really. All it is are the demos and original tracks Eyes had done and submitted to their label for the first Eyes album. The label wasn’t happy with them so they went back and re-recorded the album and cut some new songs. The record company might not have thought them good to begin with, but still decided to package up the demos into an album that came out in 1993 only in Scandinavia which is the version I have as you can see the 1993 on the back cover. The album was released elsewhere in Europe in 1994. The band on this record included Aldy Damian, Steve Dougherty and Jeff Scott Soto. The band didn’t have a bass player so on the demos were Chuck Wright (Guiffria) and Mike Porcaro. On keyboards you get either Jeff Naideau or Todd Jasmin. Out of the 10 songs, only three of these were on the debut and the demos are pretty great in their own right. Let’s get to the music.
For this edition of the Jeff Scott Soto Series, we are going to look at a 7″ Single I found from the band Eyes. This single I found is really cool in my book. It is a Scandinavian release of the band’s single “Nobody Said It Was Easy” off their 1990 debut album ‘Eyes’. The album was off the Curb Records label, but that was in the U.S. For this release we get Sonet Grammofon AB and I love how the label on the record looks with the Sonet logo on it. I can’t imagine there are a ton of these out there as they were an obscure band, but thanks to Discogs, I now have a copy. I doubt I’ll ever see one out it in the wild here in the U.S.
The song was obviously released as a single, but I don’t think it ever charted anywhere which is a shame. The B-Side of the vinyl is also from the debut album and is called “Start Livin'”. I don’t have any back stories to the songs as information on the band Eyes is really hard to come by. Maybe if I ever get to sit down with Jeff, I can ask him about them.
By 1990, Jeff Scott Soto was basically a journeyman as a singer. He would take any job as long as he could sing. He went from Panther, to Yngwie, to Kuni, to Kryst the Conqueror and now we have the band Eyes. Jeff wasn’t the original lead singer, that belonged to James Christian who left the band to go join this little band named House of Lords…probably a smart move on his part as House of Lords did way better than Eyes. Which is a shame because this album is a lost classic of the late 80’s Hard Rock sound. Think Bon Jovi, Danger Danger, Firehouse and any other band from that time period.
The biggest problem this album had was only timing and the fact there were 100’s of bands out there that were all the same. These guys had the sound as they had the rock anthems, they had the ballads and oh my god…they had the hair!! They weren’t on a major label which probably got them lost in the shuffle. They were on Curb Records which back in those days was not a rock label. Without the major label push, they fell to the wayside and were overlooked by most…heck, I didn’t discover them until sometime after the 2000’s began.
The band consisted of Jeff Scott Soto on vocals, Steven Dougherty on guitar, Aldy Damian on drums and Jimmy O’Shea on bass. From what I can find, it looks like Jimmy only played bass on two of the songs as the rest were played by a name I told you to remember from an earlier review…Marcel Jacobs. Marcel didn’t join the band as he was busy with another band at the time which we will discuss very soon. The album came out some time in 1990 as a specific date can’t be found on the web anywhere for its actually release. And as I said, it didn’t go anywhere but as you are about to find out, it still kick some major ass!!