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Talisman: Five Men Live (CD)/World's Best Kept Secret (DVD)

Jeff Scott Soto, journeyman vocalist extraordinaire, has sung for Yngwie Malmsteen and Axel Rudi Pell, as well as fronted such bands as Eyes, Human Clay, Humanimal, Soul SirkUS, Takara and Talisman. Each project, while distinct in its own way, had one thing in common: solid, no-frills, hook-filled hard rock/melodic metal that's a notch or two above the fray. Talisman, with Soto and Swedish bassist Marcel Jacob at its core – the two met in Malmsteen's Rising Force – formed 15 years ago and has become one of Soto's longer-running projects. By combining pure melodic hard rock with an eventual funky edge, Talisman achieved moderate success mainly in Europe and Japan – although American listeners wil swear they've heard some of the songs on these double-CD/double-DVD sets before, most notably the addictive "I'll Be Waiting."

Five Men Live is a soundtrack to the main disc from World's Best Kept Secret, which presents two shows Talisman recorded in 2003 with an unbelievably tight group of musicians (albeit with none of the originals, save Soto and Jacob). A short gig at the outdoor Sweden Rock Festival, recorded in Solvesborg in June 2003, was shot in black-and-white, while a longer and more intimate performance was filmed at Club Mondo in Stockholm two months later. Talisman sounds more like a metal band during the festival show, but is extremely more polished and effective at the Mondo gig. One of Talisman's strengths has always been its big background vocals. Within the confines of the Mondo, which is overflowing with rabid fans who just have to sing along with the huge choruses, Talisman wields its mighty power. This band, especially at Mondo, looks and sounds lethal. A dervish on stage, Soto punches the air, toys with the audience and proves he is still one of the best (and most underrated) vocalists on the planet. How he never hooked up with a major group of U.S. players until recently – American-made Soul SirkUS includes Journey guitarist Neal Schon and drummer Virgil Donati – is beyond me.

The DVD's second disc is a choppy but nevertheless entertaining documentary featuring vintage behind-the-scenes footage, live performances in clubs, and grainy videos and television appearances. Bonus features include multiple-angle shots from the Mondo show, what essentially amounts to a bass clinic from Jacob (one of the more melodic bass players you're likely to hear) and some shredding footage courtesy of guitarists Fredrik Akesson and Howie Simon.

While the main DVD inexplicably eliminates some of the songs (including a charming cover of Seal's "Crazy" at Club Mondo) and most of the between-song banter, Soto's potty mouth is captured on the CDs – which would probably have worked better as a two-disc anthology of the band's studio work. Talisman's set lists here are way too similar, seeing as they were performed a mere two months apart, and the CDs' material should have been pulled from different eras. If you drop coin for both double sets, you'll have six versions of some songs ("Mysterious," "Fabricated War") and no versions of others ("Animal Ritual," "Love Will Come Again"). That brings the final score down a notch.

Still, by the time you're done experiencing this whole package, if the chorus to "I'll Be Waiting" isn't ringing in your head for the rest of the day and all of the night and into the next day, well, then you need to play it again.


Track Listings
CD 1:
1) Break Your Chains
2) Color My XTC
3) Fabricated War
4) Mysterious
5) Skin on Skin
6) Tears in the Sky
7) Crazy
8) In Make Believe
9) Scream of Anger
10) If Only You Would Be My Friend
11) Break It Down Again
12) I'll Be Waiting
13) NJBBWD
14) Outta My Way
15) Fredrik Akesson Solo
16) Standing on Fire
17) I Don't Know


CD 2:
1) Break Your Chains
2) Color My XTC
3) Fabricated War
4) Tears in the Sky
5) Crazy
6) Break It Down Again
7) Mysterious
8) Standing on Fire
9) In Make Believe
10) I'll Be Waiting


DVD 1: Club Mondo
1) Break Your Chains
2) Color My XTC
3) Fabricated War
4) Mysterious
5) Skin on Skin
6) Tears in the Sky
7) Break It Down Again
8) In Make Believe
9) Scream of Anger
10) If You Would Only Be My Friend
11) I'll Be Waiting
12) Outta My Way
13) Standing on Fire


DVD 1: Sweden Rock Festival
1) Break Your Chains
2) Color My XTC
3) Fabricated War
4) Tears in the Sky
5) Crazy
6) Break It Down Again
7) Mysterious
8) Standing on Fire
9) In Make Believe
10) I'll Be Waiting
Plus multi-angle views for Mysterious, If You Would Only Be My Friend and Outta My Way


DVD 2-Documentary, featuring videos and/or live footage of:
1) I'll Be Waiting
2) Just Between Us
3) Mysterious
4) Time After Time
5) Comin' Home
6) All Or Nothing
7) Color My XTC
8) Here 2day Gone 2day
9) Body
10) Fabricated War
11) Tears in the Sky
12) Crazy
13) Skin on Skin
14) Outta My Way
15) In Make Believe

Added: May 14th 2005
Reviewer: Michael Popke
Score:
Related Link: Frontiers Records
Hits: 2185
Language: english

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