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.
Axel Rudi Pell has had four solo albums so a live album was long over due. As a result, during two shows on February 4th & 5th of 1995, they were recorded so a live album could be released. They were recorded in Markthalle, Hamburg and Zeche, Bochum. There were three songs from the Markthalle show and five from Zeche. The band was of course Axel Rudi Pell on guitar, Jeff Scott Soto on vocals, Jorg Michael on drums, Volker Krawczak on bass and Julie Greaux on keyboards. It was the same band that recorded the previous album ‘Between the Walls’ for which they were now touring for that album, and it is a great, solid band.
1994 was an extremely busy year for Jeff Scott Soto and by the looks of it, 1995 was not going to be any different as we have 3 releases for this year and this being the first. For this album, Jeff felt the biggest fault was it was too short and he would’ve liked to have included a few more of the older tracks. With that being said, if that is the only fault, then we are in for a real treat. The show captures how much Jeff enjoyed working with Axel and it shows in his performance and everyone’s performance for that matter. The album came out around May 22, 1995 and is a great time capsule of a great period of Axel Rudi Pell.
The show kicks off with some riffing by Axel and then they go straight in to “Talk of The Guns” off their most recent album ‘Between the Walls’. Here is the song is sped up even faster and a lot heavier. It seems faster than speed metal here. The drums are pounding and relentless and Pell’s solo is pure Axel. Jeff does a great job keeping up with that pace and not losing his breath, but it was close.
While Jeff Scott Soto was touring with Talisman in Europe, Axel Rudi Pell was ready to make another album. After the mixed reaction from the fans on ‘The Ballad’ album, Axel was going to go to his roots and make a pure metal album…a German Metal Album as he has stated. He contacted Jeff and arranged for him to come in and work on the album while his other band was touring. Jeff was happy to do so as he really enjoyed working with Axel since it wasn’t a dictatorship like other bands he had worked in. Jeff and Axel work well together and Soto co-wrote 4 of the 10 tracks.
Most of the band was back from the last studio album, ‘Eternal Prisoner’. There was obviously Axel and Jeff, but Jorg Michael was back on drums and Volker Krawczak on bass. Keyboardist Kai Raglewski was out and in his place was Julie Greaux who has worked with Billy Idol and happened to be Soto’s girlfriend. That’s convenient wouldn’t you say!! What I would say is that this was a solid line-up and had me interested to hear what they had put together this time around. It is definitely more fantasy and mystical lyrics and it is truly metal for sure! One more thing, in the liner notes, it lists out what instrument each band member plays with and for Jeff…it says he plays with Julie….”Oh Heffe, Oh Oh Ooh”…Let me just say…Wow!! Okay, hold on tight and let’s get to the music.