We are here with yet another Jeff Scott Soto release and this one is quite unique. It is called ‘B-Sides’ and consists of unreleased tracks, bonus tracks, duets as well as songs used for Tribute albums. It shows as it is an official release from Frontiers Records, but it is very cheap looking. The CDs themselves do say these are “Not For Sale, For Promo Use Only”, but they seem like bootlegs. However, discogs has them on their site and they do not list it as ‘Unofficial’ so everything actually leads me to believe this is a real Frontiers Records release. And yet, the mix of it is not that great as the volume between songs has not been equalized as some songs are louder than others. I don’t know what to think, but I have a copy and I am pretty stoked about it. I am curious as to why the reason behind this product though, so if anyone knows, please let me know in the comments below.
The main reason I’m stoked is that it saves me a ton of money from going and buying all the albums that these songs are on. Most are on an album from another artist that Jeff appears on or Tribute albums where this is probably the only song I would want any way. To have them all in one compilation I would say is big win. One thing that sort of stinks about this is the liner notes on the CD booklet. As you can see from a picture further down the post, there is a fantastic Track List of CD 2 and where the songs originated from, but the left side of the picture does not have the track list for CD 1 and where the songs originated. That is actually a misprint because I have seen pictures of the inner sleeve that have the CD 1 track list breakdown. If the list is there or not, this is still a pretty cool piece in the Soto collection.
The first song was a cassette only bonus track from Jeff’s first band, Panther. “Set Me Free” one of my favorite songs on that album. Soto attacks it with a deeper tone and yet still soars with some high notes. The drumming on it is immense with some great fills. The guitar solo is typical for the time to see how fast he can go, but its great. It definitely takes me back to the 80’s with this one. The next three tracks,”Act of Sympathy”, “Highway to Nowhere” and “Mental Ward” were demos from Jeff’s work with is buddy Gary Schutt on his album ‘Sentimetal’ that Jeff sang lead on. “Act” is pure metal, heavy, dark and Jeff sounds great but a lot of echo…again, this is a demo so not fully polished. Same with “Highway” except it is a little more speed metal, some kickass double bass drum, a real killer track. “Mental Ward” comes off feeling like a leftover track from Jeff’s worker with Biker Mice From Mars soundtrack. It has that same campy, cartoony feel to it.
For My Sunday Song #324, we are discussing the song “Save Me” by Shinedown. The song is off their 2005 album ‘Us and Them’. The song went to #1 on the Billboard Mainstream Rock chart and #72 on the Billboard Hot 100…didn’t quite make to Top 40. The song was written by Brent Smith and Tony Battaglia.
The song is something Brent had worked on back in the 90’s, but finally finished it for the ‘Us and Them’ album. It is about those people that want to help out and solve everyone else’s problems and issues. They take on so much that they run in to problems of their own and then need to be saved. The exact same thing happened to Brent we someone tried to help and later he had to help them.
Brad Stewart opens the song with a cool bass line which is accompanied by some eerie guitar riffs from Jasin Todd that give the song this whole doom and gloom vibe. Barry Kerch’s drumming is superb and his fills give the song a little something extra and help with the intensity that is in Brent’s vocals. The chorus amps up the energy and there is an urgency in the song that gives you chills. A standout track on the album for sure.
When we reviewed Takara’s ‘Eternal Faith’ album a few weeks back, we mentioned that Jeff Scott Soto said he wasn’t a member of Takara and did it as a favor. Well, a couple years later we are back with the second Takara album and who is singing? It is a Mr. Jeff Scott Soto, of course. After the band had such success in Japan with ‘Eternal Faith’, the Japanese record company wanted another album and would only do it with Jeff on vocals. Jeff didn’t want to let his good friend, Neal Grusky, down and be the reason his buddy lost his record contract, so Jeff being the man he is agreed to do vocal duties again as well as Produced, Engineered and Mixed the album. When Jeff says he’s going to help out, there is no half-assing it for him.
The band had more money to produce this record then the measly $2,500 for the last so we do get better production quality…plus Jeff was getting better at it. The biggest difference is that Jeff’s friend Greg Schutt was no longer on bass. Duties were handled by Carl DeMarco. There were two songs that the bass was done by Bob Daisley from Ozzy and Rainbow fame which is pretty cool, but Carl was the now official band member. On drums, we still had Robert Duda and Neal Grusky on guitar as expected. There are also some keyboard elements done by none other than Jeff’s then girlfriend Julie Greaux, of course!
The album was released on May 24, 1995 in Japan and went to #96 on their national charts, so not bad at all. The version I have is the Canadian Release from 1995 but the CD has 1993. That isn’t the only mistake the CD has as it also called the last song “Lonely Sade of Blue” omitting the “h” in Shade. Oops! Good quality control goes a long way. Let’s get to the music, shall we!
We are slap dab in the middle of the Queen Studio Album Series. We are on album #8. We’ve done 7 and have 7 more to go after this one. I can’t believe it is going by so fast. We are also in to a new decade…the 80’s. This was also the time where my musical taste started to develop on my own without input from my siblings. I remember a couple of these songs on the radio so this album is a little special for me, but yet still years away before I bought one on my own. In 1980, I was just starting middle school so had no job and no money.
The band started recording in June/July of 1979 and a few songs were done, but things were brought to a halt because Queen went back out on the road in late 1979 on the Crazy Tour. When that ended, they went back in the studio on February and finished up the album by March 1980. The album came out on June 30, 1980 and was a massive success. The album went to #1 in the US and sold well over 4 million copies in the US alone. There were 5 singles so we have a lot to discuss. The line-up is unchanged as we still have Freddie Mercury, Brian May, Roger Taylor and John Deacon. Not many bands make it this far without a line-up change and Queen wouldn’t for years and years to come.
The album kicks off with “Play the Game” which was the third single off the album. It didn’t do as well as a couple other singles on the album as it only went to #42 just missing the Top 40. The song is also famous because it is the first song to feature a synthesizer. Queen had notoriously put on their previous albums that they didn’t use synthesizers. People thought that it was a knock against synthesizers, but reality is they wanted to let the world know that all those cools sounds that they made were actually done by guitar. It really wasn’t a knock on that instrument. Anyway, the song was written by Freddie Mercury and it is Queen being Queen. They don’t do anything simple and it has to be huge and grand and that is what this song is. Freddie’s vocal range on this song is insane. It has Freddie on piano and synthesizer for this one with Brian laying down a great solo that was played for the song and not all showboaty. It is a killer opening track.