Talisman’s founder, bassist Marcel Jacob, took his own life back on July 21, 2009 and to commemorate their friends passing, Talisman got back together to pen this song, “Never Die”. Time restraints didn’t allow them to finish the song in time, but it did come out in digital format only on December 20, 2019, 10 years after his passing. So, I probably should’ve done this earlier than I have, but there is a reason. Because now there is actually a way to get his song physically. On March 6, 2020, Talisman released the song as a limited run vinyl 7″ Single. And when I say limited, I mean it as there are only 300 copies of the single. I have copy #121 as you can see below. And my copy came with a large black chip (I guess you’d call it) with the Talisman logo on it. I don’t know if this was with it or something the person I bought it from threw in…either way, cool piece (you can see down further).
The three main Talisman members in the band got back together to write the song. You have Jeff Scott Soto on vocals, guitarist Pontus Norgren and drummer Jamie Borger. Jamie gave Jeff some great melodies and Jeff’s wrote the lyrics pretty easily. And what is great about them, as there are some Talisman song title shout outs in the song.
“i’ll be waiting, mysterious, coloured xtc just between us tears from the sky fall again”
It is a touching tribute to their fallen brother and captain of Talisman as it was his dream they all helped make come true. And to help celebrate his life even more, the proceeds from this single were donated to the organization Suicide Zero to help increase knowledge about mental illness and I think they did a great thing to honor their friend.
Back in December 2021 when I announced I was doing a Jeff Scott Soto Series, I got a lot of response on the picture of my collection. One such person contacted me on Facebook and offered to send me a hard back edition of a biography on Jeff Scott Soto, so I quickly thanked him and agreed. He quickly mailed out this glorious copy of the book. His name was Sundeep Pooni and that book has been a massive reference guide for my review series up to this point. So, a big thank you to Sundeep and his very generous gift!! From here on out in the review series, we are past the date of the book so none of the albums I’ll be reviewing from ere on out are in the book, so I am on my own.
Before we get to the next review, let’s go through this book. It was originally written by Ronny Hahn and it was written in German and only an electronic book. For the 30th Anniversary of Jeff’s career, it was released thanks to Frank Tunney who took the original book and added more chapters and re-organized the structure. It is now a hard back book and chock full of the details of his career that all hardcore fans love to know. The book is called “Authorized” so it has the blessing of the man himself and that is good enough for me.
The book starts off with the original foreward written by Ronny Zahn and then there is a great dedication to the late Marcel Jacobs who played with Jeff in several bands and was a very close personal friend. It was a terrible loss, but thankfully he left behind a great legacy of music. Afterwards you get a brief biography of Jeff’s very early life, but the rest of the book is all Jeff’s music career.
The band W.E.T. consisting of Robert Sall (Work of Art), Erik Martensson (Eclipse) and Jeff Scott Soto (Talisman) was originally going to be a one off project. However, the success of their debut and the fun had by the three main guys has turned in to a band. With two albums under their belt, the band hit the road and for only their second show ever as a band, it was captured in video and released as both a Live Double CD and a beautifully filmed DVD. What we get is ‘One Live – In Stockholm’!!
Recorded on January 17, 2013 at a really small club in Stockholm, Sweden called the Debaser Club and the reason behind the small venue is interesting. The guys only were expecting less than 100 people and so they figured a smaller venue would still look full on camera. What they got was hundreds of people and they had to delay the show by an hour to make sure everyone got in that wanted to (and hopefully legally could for fire codes and all). The band’s second album, ‘Rise Up’, hadn’t been released yet, but it was about too so the band had 2 full albums of material to now draw from plus they few in several surprises along the way. And to top it off, the CD version of the show has two bonus tracks of previously unreleased songs from the last album. Now, there is absolutely no reason a fan of this band wouldn’t want it. A live show on 2 CDs, two bonus studio tracks and a DVD of the show…DAMN!! What is not to like about this release.
Alright…You Picked It! This one was never really close. A couple made some last minute moves to catch the leader, but there was no catching this dog as it ended up not even close. The winner this month was The Poodles’ ‘Metal Will Stand Tall’.
The Poodles – ‘Metal Will Stand Tall – 7 votes
Gotthard – ‘Lipservice’ – 3 votes
Jorn – ‘Worldchanger’ – 2 votes
Passion – ‘Passion’ – 2 votes
Reach – ‘The Promise of Life – 1 vote
Thanks to all for participating. The April choices will be up on Saturday! And the choices are all from my collection and the next one will all be focused all on Rock Candy Re-issues. Hopefully you can help me decide which one I should review. And to note, it will be the very last You Pick It! we do hear as there isn’t enough participation to make this worth doing anymore, I’m just going to start pulling from my collection and reviewing on my own going forward. Thanks all for playing along.
THE POODLES – ‘METAL WILL STAND TALL’ (2006):
The Poodles are a Swedish glam/metal band and how I came across them is thanks to two things. First was Melodicrock.com as Andrew McNeice talked about them a lot. The second was the fact that The Poodles had a strong connection to Jeff Scott Soto. Both the lead singer, Jakob Samuel and guitarists Pontus Norgren were in Jeff Scott Soto’s band Talisman. The funny thing is that Jakob was a drummer back then, now he is front and center as a lead singer. Now, what I find interesting is how the Poodles came to being. Jakob was asked to sing the song “Night of Passion” for the Swedish music contest Melodifestivalen in 2006. The winner of this contest goes on to compete in the major contest called Eurovision. Well, Jakob compiled a band together including Pontus Nogren as well as Pontus Egberg on bass and Christian Lundqvist on drums. The band didn’t win, but they did come in fourth which is pretty darn respectable. From there, they went and did an album and here we are.
When you hear The Poodles, you are immediately transferred back to a time when the Glam and Melodic rock scene was at its peak around the world with acts like Bon Jovi and that ilk…well in Sweden that genre never has seemed to die out as they are putting out some great bands with The Poodles leading the charge. The opening track, “Echoes From The Past” comes roaring out of the gate with its pounding drums and gritty guitar riffs. Jakob’s vocals have a grit to them and yet sound so silky smooth and his vocals can soar to the heaven’s. It is full of hooks and harmonies and everything you want in a great rock song.
After Jeff Scott Soto was let go from Journey, Serafino Perugino of Frontiers Records really wanted Jeff to record an album a pure hard/melodic rock album that is the same vein of Journey. Jeff had different ideas. Jeff had been working on his solo album ‘Beautiful Mess’ which was a far cry from that type of music. However, Jeff agreed but on one condition. That condition was that ‘Beautiful Mess’ was released first…and it was.
Serafino also had the idea of doing a supergroup with Jeff in it. When he heard the first handful of songs, Jeff was really in to it and signed up. It also helped who else was in the band. The original name of the band was called Lost in the Shadows and I don’t think anyone liked that name at all. They come up with the name W.E.T. and that was because who was in the band. That included Robert Sall of the band Work of Art (The “W”); Erik Martensson of the band Eclipses (The “E”) and Jeff Scott Soto of the band Talisman (The “T”). All three bands are Swedish bands and all on Frontiers so it made it easy to bring these three guys together.
The songs were written by a number of writers, but Erik and Robert wrote a majority of the songs and Jeff wrote the lyrics. Magnus Henriksson was also involved with writing along with Johan Becker and Miqeal Persson. On instruments, of course Erik and Robert played, Jeff sang, but there were others. Magnus Henriksson from the band Eclipse played most of the lead guitars and Robben Black, also of Eclipse, played the drums and was actually the fourth member of the band and since he was in Eclipse, technically he is part of the “E” as well. This rag tag group of musicians actually pulled it off and brought one of the best Supergroups Frontiers has put together (and they have put together a lot and most are forgettable).
The band was only going to be a one-off project and were not going to tour. however, the fans wanted more. When Warrant pulled out of the the 2011 Firefest, they asked if W.E.T. would fill in. After a lot of phone calls and changed schedules they made it happen. The next thing you know, they agreed to do another album and the band played on. We don’t want to get ahead of ourselves, so let’s dive in to the debut album called ‘W.E.T.’ (simple enough). The album came out on November 29, 2009 in Europe and the U.S. got it some time in 2010. The reception of the album was fantastic and it helped solidify me as a massive Soto fan. In fact, when I met Jeff back in April 2022, I brought 5 CD covers of my favorite Soto albums and this was one of them. As you can see above in the header photo, Jeff signed this CD for me. I think I now have about 7 of the albums signed by him.
Going through the Jeff Scott Soto Series, we have now been through every Talisman Studio album so I figured, let’s go ahead and rank them rather than wait until the end of the series. Talisman is a band started by the late Marcel Jacob. He recruited Jeff Scott Soto as they became friends while working with Yngwie Malmsteen. The original band also had Christopher Stahl on guitar, Mats Lindfors on guitar, Mats Olassaon on keyboard, and Peter Hermansson on drums. But for me, that isn’t the classic line-up. Nope. That would Marcel, Jeff and then Fredrik Akesson on guitar and Jamie Borger on drums. Heck, I even loved when Pontus Norgren replaced Fredrik on guitar. I mean, let’s be honest, all versions of the line-up were great. Who are we kidding.
The band started in 1989 and released their first album in 1990. They had moderate success in Europe but did best in Sweden. Not much noise at all here in the States as the music had changed too much for them to succeed. For a band that was together for around 20 years, we only got 7 albums which isn’t near enough in my opinion. They were really busy with side projects that seem to consume their time. Or maybe, Talisman was the side project. Whatever it was, I was always glad to hear new Talisman music. In 2009, Marcel Jacob passed away before they could start on an 8th album and that was the end of Talisman. I don’t suspect Jeff will resurrect it without Marcel and I don’t think he should.
With that, let is get to the ranking of their studio albums from the Worst (which really isn’t) to their Best (which really is)…
THE WORST – ‘LIFE’ (1995):
I do have some issues with this one as I thought the mix on my version was bad and that mostly comes with the uneven transitions between songs. It is very inconsistent. There are only a handful of standout tracks such as “Tears in the Sky”, “Crazy”, “Body”, “Soul 2 Soul” and “A Life”, but otherwise the rest of the album could be forgettable. It does have its moments though and is above average which is why My Overall Score is a 3.5 out of 5.0 Stars. I don’t know if it was for the fact they felt rushed or production, but the quality of the songs on this weren’t there. It could also be they didn’t perform this one live in the studio together which I find can hurt the vibes of the album. So, out of the 7 albums. This I would categorize as The Worst, but still an above average score.
Talisman didn’t waste any time between their last studio album, ‘Cats & Dogs’, and this one, ‘7’. It is amazing they had time to even do an album as Jeff Scott Soto’s schedule was quite busy with his solo album & touring, his work with Soul SirkUS and then his stint as lead singer of Journey. It was a hectic and crazy schedule. Somehow they did it. The band was back together with Jeff, Marcel Jacob, Frederik Akesson and Jamie Borger and heck, even Pontus Norgren was there to help mix the album. The family was back for one last hurrah as it would turn out as this is the very last studio album by Talisman. A few years later, there were talks of doing another album, but before they could get to it, Marcel Jacob passed away in 2009. This was the end of Talisman and I still get sad thinking of it as I really do enjoy this band.
The original title of the album was called ‘BAR’ which was an inside joke with the band as it stood for ‘Bitter-Angry-Resentful’ which apparently was their outlook on certain life events…who knows if that is true, but I like it. They settled on ‘7’ which is actually the 7th Studio album of the band and they chose the theme of Lucky 7 with all the gambling pictures and Vegas pictures in the album artwork. The album was released on October 20, 2006 by Frontiers Records and they intended to do a tour with the release, but Jeff’s Journey commitment kept getting in the way. The tour was postponed until later in 2007 and by that time, Jeff was let go from Journey as we discussed in the last post. No need to rehash that story. We might as well talk music.
The album kicks off with the most upbeat, happiest guitars with a killer riff at a tempo that will have you flying down the road at 100mph if you are in your car. “Falling” is a modern sounding song while still holding on to the great melodic rock sound. There are keyboards in there (not credited) that really add a great punch to the song. I don’t know how Jamie Borger keeps up the pace he is going pounding those drums. It might be the fastest song they’ve done. Jeff sounds great and the melodies in the song are wonderful. What an astounding opening track.
Back in 2003, Talisman hit the Festival Circuit in Europe and a lot of those shows were recorded. Two shows in particular were captured and were finally released by Frontiers Records in 2005. We got a Live CD, which we reviewed last week, and then a DVD set. Today, we review the DVD set. The DVD set was called ‘World’s Best Kept Secret’ and was a 2DVD set. The first DVD giving us the two shows released on the CD and the 2nd DVD giving us a retrospective of Talisman and including all the videos from throughout the years plus pieces of several other live shows. It is magnificent set and a great time capsule of a band that was not know across the globe and is one of my favorite bands which is why I think the title to this set is more than appropriate. They were like a little secret that I had and I wish more people knew about them when they were around as I think they are awesome. I have tried to tell the world about them now with this Jeff Scott Soto Series so hopefully I make a few new fans from this series.
The two shows captured were at Club Mondo in Stockholm, Sweden in August 2003 and the second show was from the Sweden Rock Festival from June 2003. This would be the 2nd Sweden Rock Festival live show we’ve been given from the band. The line-up was interesting as the band was usually a 4-piece band. This time we have the return of the great axeman, Fredrik Akesson as Pontus Norgren had left. The other interesting was they added a fifth member with Howie Simon on guitar. Howie at the time was Soto’s solo band’s guitarist and friend.
If I had to pick to listening to the CD or watching the DVD for these two shows, I would pick the DVD any day of the week. The CD is fantastic and I rated it as such, but the DVD lets you see the action going on with this cast of characters on stage. Jeff Scott Soto is a mad man and his energy level is 110% the whole show. He starts off fully clothed but by the end he only has pants on as he sweated up enough to fill a kiddie pool. You get to see the great drumming by Jamie Borger, Howie Simon’s great playing and that fast finger work by Fredrik Akesson. And of course, you can watch Marcel Jacob pound on that bass like so few people can do. It is totally brilliant. You feel the energy feeding off the band and the crowd.
With Jeff Scott Soto on Frontiers records, it made total sense that if Talisman was to get back together and put out another album, Frontiers might be the home for them. And that is what happened. After the break-up of the Humanimal project, Jeff and Marcel Jacob felt it was time to put on the Talisman hat again. However, with the falling out with Pontus Norgren, a new guitarist was needed. That new guitarist was actually the old guitarist Fredrik Akesson which is a perfect fit for the band. Mr. Jamie Borger was back on drums and the new album of the old guard was ready to be recorded.
The band recorded the album in Italy (why not since that was where the label was located). It was recorded at Planet Studios in Acqui Terme, Italy. The album saw the release on May 12, 2003. It was this album that I discovered the band thanks to Melodicrock.com. Andrew McNeice was going on and on about this guy Jeff Scott Soto and Talisman. As a result, I checked it out and then things went nuts from there. After almost 20 years now of listening to Soto and Talisman, I now have over 70 albums in my collection that Soto performs on. It all started with ‘Cats & Dogs’ and Soto’s next solo album ‘Lost in Translation’ which we will review next. This was my entry point into the universe of Soto.
With a “Hey, Hey, Hey” and a Soto scream, the album is off and running with “Skin on Skin”. It is a little funky, a little bluesy and a lot of energy. A modern rock track with its foundation firmly rooted in the past. What a way to say…”We’re back!!!”. And then Jeff does his best James Brown with a “Good God, Yeah” to kick off “Break it Down”. With some heavy bass and then a slick riff, some great harmonies and we are off to the races. It has a great, memorable chorus, great production and more fantastic vocals from Soto. Plus, Akesson’s solo is pretty sweet and his playing is a highlight on this one for sure.
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.