Talisman – Talisman [1990]


Talisman is a great example of why the late 80s melodic rock sound was so much fun. The album is just loaded with songs that should have been huge hit singles.

Talisman was formed by bass player Marcel Jacob, who had previously played with among others Rising Force, John Norum and Power. While Jacob was playing with John Norum, he started working on tracks which he thought would end up on Norum’s second album. The singer on those demos was Goran Edman, also in John Norum at that time. But Norum rejected the songs and in the meantime Goran was offered the opportunity to join Yngwie Malmsteen’s band. Jacob found himself with record label interest but no band. Auditions among Swedish vocalist were unsuccessful but Cary Sharaf ex Wasa Express guitar player suggested Jeff Scott Soto. He was called, he got the materials and agreed to join the band.

In February 1989 recordings for the first album took place in Stockholm with Christopher Stahl (Power) and Mats Lindfors (Norum, Grand Slam) on guitars, Peter Hermansson (220 Volt, Norum) playing drums on some tracks and Mats Olausson (Yngwie Malmsteen, Glory) on keyboards. Jacob programmed the rest of drums and played all rhythm guitars with help of the producer Mats Lindfors on Women, Whiskey and songs. After some misfortunes, Talisman was eventually released in February 1990 on the Airplay/Vinyl Mania label. After a couple a weeks from its release, the first single “I’ll Be Waiting” entered in the top ten on the Swedish singles chart and was No.2 on the tracklist, a major radio show. The compositions are in line with the 80s American glam sound featuring catchy choruses, melodic keyboards, huge drumming, amazing guitar hooks and of course Soto’s powerful, soulful vocals.

It’s pretty hard not to forget the opening trio of songs “Break Your Chains” and its groovy guitars, the exquisite “Standin’ on Fire” with a chorus to die for and of course, Talisman’s best ever song “I’ll Be Waiting”, a smooth melodic rock that could have made a push into the charts seeing it was their most commercial effort. “Dangerous” is a prowling rocker with great riffs, great keys on the back and catchy chorus while “Just Between Us” though a ballad, still shakes enough bullets to be threatening. Powerful vocals from Soto with nice keyboard harmonies and an outstanding refrain will leave you fully satisfied. “System of Power”, a song that what is most highlight its chorus soft despite the composition to be as “aggressive” while Stahl showcases his immense ability on guitar. Next song “Queen” is one more great rocker like “I’ll Be Waiting” having hard guitar riffs and powerful chorus and this is the strong point of the song. Check out the soaring choruses on “Lightning Strikes” my one of my favorite , from the beginning to the end, as it achieves a special harmony, despite being “heavy”, but the show belongs to “Day By Day”, with a perfect arrangement between guitars, keys and harmony vocals. As for  the choruses simply there no words to be described. To round out the album “Women, Whiskey and Songs” has a groove similar to Soto’s work with Eyes and the instrumental “Great Sandwich” closing the album with a great guitar riffs for the fans.

Their debut album is a pearl of the hard rock world, with eleven tracks – the original version – worth all the talent assembled for the task. Although it was not a blockbuster out of the Scandinavian domain, is a historical reference. For all the guys that still don’t have this, it’s now or never to obtain this disc.

Band Members
Jeff Scott Soto – Vocals, backing vocals
Christopher Stahl – Guitars
Mats Lindfords – Guitars
Marcel Jacob – Drums, bass, guitars, keys

Additional Musicians
Andy Clarke – Backing vocals
Pontus Claesson – Backing vocals
Madeline Pluss – Backing vocals
Peter Hermansson – Drums
Mats Olausson – Keys

01. Break Your Chains (3:31)
02. Standin’ On Fire (4:12)
03. I’ll Be Waiting (2:56)
04. Dangerous (3:50)
05. Just Between Us (3:46)
06. System Of Power (4:43)
07. Queen (3:15)
08. Lightning Strikes (3:16)
09. Day By Day (4:09)
10. Women, Whiskey & Songs (3:04)
11. Great Sandwich (2:36)

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