W.E.T. – ‘W.E.T.’ (2009) – Album Review (The Jeff Scott Soto Series)

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.

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Talisman – The Albums Ranked Worst to First (The Jeff Scott Soto Series)

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.

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Talisman – ‘7’ (2006) – Album Review (The Jeff Scott Soto Series)

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.

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Talisman – ‘World’s Best Kept Secret’ (2005) – DVD Review (The Jeff Scott Soto Series)

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.

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Talisman – ‘Cats & Dogs’ (2003) – Album Review (The Jeff Scott Soto Series)

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.

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Jeff Scott Soto – ‘JSS: Live at the Gods 2002’ (2003) – Album Review (The Jeff Scott Soto Series)

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.

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Talisman – ‘Live at Sweden Rock Festival’ (2002) – Album Review (The Jeff Scott Soto Series)

By 2001, Jeff Scott Soto and Marcel Jacob and had been playing together for a decade. The longest project Jeff had ever been with and probably the most fulfilling as he and Marcel were able to craft Talisman out of all the types of music they both liked. To celebrate that 10 years, a tour was needed and they wound up playing at the Sweden Rock Festival in 2001 on one of the smaller stages.

The place was packed up to an hour before the show. The crowd was chanting their name and was ready to hear some Talisman. Jeff Scott Soto, Marcel Jacob, Pontus Norgren and Jamie Borger were ready to take the stage and give the fans what they wanted…Talisman!! They played on the Rockklassiker stage with a 2000 crowd capacity. But it started off a little rough…two days prior to the show, Marcel’s gear was left in Stockholm where he, Jeff and Pontus were working on the new Humanimal album. So, Marcel had no bass. He wasn’t going to play, but when he heard the crowd chanting, he ran and found a bass from another band.

There was another band at the festival that had some recording gear and so they decided to record the show. Marcel and Pontus were a little unhappy with the recording as the bass sound wasn’t what Marcel really sounded like (remember, not his guitar), Jeff’s microphone had issues and the guitar sounded a little out of tune at times…they re-recorded a lot of the record in the studio and played as if it was the show to capture that essence…and honestly, you can’t tell. It all sounds fantastic.

This was 2001, so this was prior to Humanimal project and prior to the giant riff between Marcel and Pontus which forced the end of Humanimal and the end of Pontus in Talisman. So, if this is the last recording with Pontus on lead guitar, then we get a wonderful time capsule. The album was supposed to come out in April 2002, but the release was delayed (probably due to the Humanimal issues going on). It finally saw the light of day in December 2002 and thankfully it did as it is a fantastic show.

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September 2022 Purchases – Vinyl & CDs & More

Another month gone by which is good news because it means more Vinyl, CDs, books and even a DVD have been added the collection. And we are kicking this month off a very pleasant surprise from a good friend of 2 Loud 2 Old Music. Mr. Books himself, Aaron, from KeepsMeAlive.com has sent yet another care package. The man believes in giving! This time around we got 2 books and 2 CDs all the way from the Great White North. Be careful what you say in the comments on his site as you are bound to wind up with it. Aaron knows my love for Idol and I have made comments before about the other 3 items…and now I have them. Thanks Aaron…and yes, he left a little note as usual!!

Now to start the month out, during labor day weekend, 2nd & Charles had their buy 5 get 5 free sale and so I hit up the CDs section and stuck to the 5 and 5 rule. Here is the 5 I bought…

And the five I got for free…or vice versa, however you want to look at it…

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Humanimal – ‘Humanimal’ (2002) – Album Review (The Jeff Scott Soto Series)

Back in 2001, Talisman guitarist, Pontus Norgren, was working on a side project with Z-Records label boss, Mark Alger. Mark envisioned a Talisman type project that would be very different from the normal Talisman material. It was thought to be a concept album with multiple lead singers including Jeff Scott Soto doing a few tunes as that was all he agreed to do. Pontus recruited Talisman bassist, Marcel Jacob, but the drummer was Thomas Broman who was not from Talisman.

Jeff signed on to do a few songs and said he was not a member of this band and was doing is at as a favor for his friends. Man, that sounds familiar (Takara and most of his early projects). And like normal, the multiple singer aspect didn’t work out and then Jeff agreed to do the whole album. This was basically a Talisman album with three of the four members, but it wasn’t that either. The biggest difference is the sound. This was a guitar driven album and much heavier than normal Talisman. In Talisman, you have Marcel’s bass front and center and the main focus, here, this is Pontus’ project so the guitar is the main focus. There are moments that feel and sound like Talisman, so any Talisman fan will love this album. But it is different.

The Humanimal name was chosen to mark the connection to Talisman, but at the same time to say that this is different, new and exciting. The album saw a release on January 2002, but it would end up being their last album together as this name. There were some shady dealings going on with the label and Marcel and Pontus ended up in a bitter dispute on royalties with Z-Records which led to bitter arguments between the two friends and as a result, the two parted ways. It was so bad, Pontus was now out of Talisman as well. Soto was planning on signing with Z-Records, but the royalty issue is rumored to have stopped him from signing with them as well. He would soon sign with Frontiers Records (which we will discuss on the next review). What started out as promising turned in to a total disaster…such is life in the Music Business!

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Talisman – ‘Truth’ (1998) – Album Review (The Jeff Scott Soto Series)

By 1998, Jeff Scott Soto and Marcel Jacob thought it was time to bring Talisman back together and record a new album. Jamie Borger was brought back, of course, on drums and a new guitarist was found in Pontus Norgren (The Poodles, Hammerfall). The only problem is that Jeff was so busy with The Boogie Knights, they had to record in the States. Jeff had a home studio so he and Marcel spent about 10 days writing new material which then band then recorded in Jeff’s home studio. The drums, however, were not as they needed a better set-up so they were recorded elsewhere.

They found a couple record labels to release the album, Point Music in Europe and Pony Canyon in Japan. However, neither label wanted to promote the material so no touring was actually done which is nuts. The album was released on December 27, 1998 and that date alone should tell you how much the labels gave a crap about that album because who in their right mind releases an album 2 days after Christmas.

The band’s sound on this album was a nod to earlier Talisman where they tried to capture a little of the sound from the first two albums. They also ended up recording 3 cover songs on the album and actually opened the album with a cover song. I’ve heard Jeff describe this album as their ‘Diver Down’ album (which also had a lot of covers).

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