Released: 2010, Frontiers Records
I feel that I’m almost unqualified to review the latest offering by Melodic Metal veteran vocalist JSS. Although I have been a life-long fan and followed his career from the early days, I have to admit I only own two of his now 10 solo releases. When someone buys a live album there is an underlying assumption that the buyer is somewhat familiar with the original studio compositions, and that they are enough of a fan to want to hear the differences between a live version and the studio one. So, despite being a fan, I’m at a disadvantage because I can’t discuss the subtle differences in the live versions. What I can talk about is what a fun and cool Double Live CD this is.
This is the third live solo album and it is a great show, also available on DVD, (see the review on the site) and it strictly focuses on his solo material. There is a nice nod to his other projects as the intro includes clips from Malmsteen, Eyes, Axel Rudi Pell and so on. There are 22 listed cuts but if you strip away the drum solos, guitar solos, the medleys there are really only 14 songs. Of those 14 songs half of them come from his latest, 2009 solo album, BEAUTIFUL MESS. I admire this because it indicates that Jeff as an artist is confident enough in his new material to showcase his new work instead of relying on past glories. I would have been slightly disappointed with this album had it been loaded with Malmsteen/Talisman/Pell etc, songs.
However, it is the aforementioned extras (medleys, solos, jams etc) that really bring the show to life. Any band can churn out a couple songs recorded live, but these guys do it better. Jeff and his competent backup group, mostly newer guys from Brazil, really put on a show. For example, there are a couple of medleys and jams that really stand out as unique, interesting and most of all fun! Including ‘Stand Up’ from the Rock Star movie soundtrack was a nice touch. The closing encore has to be heard to believed, mixing an epic, 11+ minute medley of hard rock/funky versions of songs by Queen, Joan Jett, and half a dozen non-rock/metal artists, blending rap, disco and everything groovy into one big beautiful mess. Outstanding entertainment for the open-minded rock fan.
Jeff is a great performer, he engages the crowd with witty and intelligent stage banter, giving little lyrical and musical hints to other bands, other times, other scene, for example the nod to Iron Maiden at the tail end of the track ’Testify’. The whole affair just seems like fun and it translates well onto disc. I’m always seeking a little more than the standard renditions of old songs from a live album and in this case Jeff really delivers.