Boogie Knights
welcome to the jungle boogie

Track Listing
1. Devil's Road
2. You Can't Stop Rock N Roll
3. Missed Your Name
4. Mystery of the Heart
5. Sister Midnight
6. Better Man
7. Heaven's Missing An Angel
8. Fade Away
9. Ride the Storm
10. Run, Run, Run
11. On the Ledge


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Releases by Jeff Scott Soto:
Yngwie J. Malmsteen - "Marching Out" (1985)
Eyes - Eyes (1990)
Talisman - Genesis (1993)
Human Clay - Human Clay (1995)
Even More JSS:
Axel Rudi Pell - Black Moon Pyramid (1996)
Axel Rudi Pell - Magic (1997)
Takara - Eternal Faith (1995)
Humanimal - Humanimal (2002)


Why are we even bothering to review this?   Just because its a so-weird-its-kinda-neat release featuring everyone's favorite hard rock anti-hero combined with the ultimate quirky release... "Welcome to the Jungle Boogie". If this thing did not have Jeff Scott Soto at the vocal helm, who would even take a second glance at a disco cover band?  Talk about scraping the bottom of the barrel!  Even though Jeff is metal's pipe for hire, having lent his voice to more bands than we wish to mention here but a quick list would include guitarists Yngwie J. Malmsteen, Axel Rudi Pell and stints in Kuni, Talisman, Takara, Eyes, Humanimal, Human Clay and his blues/funk solo effort "Love Parade", it still comes as no surprise that the versatile singer is a part of the Boogie Knights. Several interviews he has taken part in have allowed him to take the soapbox to spout his slashing opinions for the hard rock circuit and in a move of surprising honesty confessed his lack of love for the genre itself. He does it all for money baby, and for a few years after the uncovering of the truth, some of his fans balked, for the fabric of rock is quite fragile thus making flag waving bands such as Manowar top of the heap for their expressed love of rock and metal, leaving no room for 'playah haterz' such as JSS. But all the hoopla calmed down after a semi ressurrection of the much beloved Talisman (under the Humanimal name) and everyone went back to adoring Mr. Soto. Who cares if he dislikes the music? He sings it damn well for the most part of his career. Check out his early recordings with Yngwie Malmsteen on such metal hair raisers as "I'll See the Light Tonight" or the gruff grit of "I Am a Viking" then turn on some Talisman and hear him rip it up AOR-style.  In the mid 90s he became dazed by flashing cash as everyone and their brother wanted his skills on a never ending array of tribute albums including Deep Purple and Queen as well as several full band projects.  This led to a glut of B grade material and Jeff with a slightly blown out voice that wasn't in the tip top shape seen years before.  It was just another buck for him perhaps, just another project, and everything he touched suffered from his bored, tired voice and limp as a noodle or too-wet paper towel soggy songwriting.

Anyone scratching their head with a sense of surreal wonder yet?  Just wait... this is more of a sick curiousity than a serious release, it makes it difficult to really approach this without a chuckle and a lighthearted outlook. If you don't like disco you won't like the cd. Its not like the ABBA tributes (Sweden Gold or the Metal Tribute) where the music has been reworked to fit into the structures of hard rock. Oh no, this is disco at its bellbottomed purist. Jeff has a golden voice but unfortunately this was during that burnt out period.  He was pumping out four or five albums a year with various bands plus putting in a plethora of live performances all to rake in the cash.  This was definitely not one of his more high profile releases, so it seems he doesn't really tackle the material with the kind of energy the original artists had.  He sounds tired, worn and a little blown out on the edges.  He still sounds passable but his vocal performances are not energetic enough to do justice to the high heat of this genre of music. Another vocalist tackles the more feminine songs and he's a hoot to make fun of as he pathetically croons the first person hooker grind of "Lady Marmalade" and the ultimate woman empowerment song, "I Will Survive".  Jeff does his best with the funky dance party jam of the ridiculously silly titled "Boogie Oogie Oogie", and the smoother croon used for the slickly performed "Grease" which is a spot on cover of the original.  He even struts his stuff with the Saturday night fever on the backdoor boy favorite "YMCA" originally by the Village People. Thelma Houston's "Don't Leave Me This Way" is another lower key track that flourishes nicely.  Overall there is fourteen songs of this stuff. Fourteen. That's alot of dance floor antics right there. 

Now it sounds fairly bearable right?  Despite a burnt out Jeff and a laughable second vocalist, but the thing that buries the disc into the depths of the crap bin forever is.... the final fling.  "Play that Funky Music" is simply embarrassing.  You will want to disappear from existance even with someone's knowledge of you owning this cd if the unfortunate soul is subjected to this piece of ...ah yes.... the song itself was pretty cool, Wild Cherry's equally wild shakin' song.   But they expand on it.  Oh yes, right smack in the middle it transforms into a combination of pure crap that runs through New Kids on the Block, a bit of a ditty from the Partridge Family, a poorly done rendition of "Shake Your Booty", that stupid "Macho Man" song and even more.  Its so horrendously bad that it may make one want to set fire to this thing after 'experiencing' this 'grand' finale.  Truly it sucks... shamefully ridiculous even.  I knocked a point off the total score just for the inclusion of this song.  

Its tongue and cheek fun or is it? No, actually they are dead serious or atleast appear to be. Just glance at the cover with the band all dressed to kill with sky high afros and psychedelic patterns. Its the late 70s all over again. And that can be a scary thing. The bookends of the songs - the openings and closings - sound raw, like they are on stage with a giant crowd applausing and screaming for more, but the meat of the tunes themselves sounds too polished (and too quiet, no crowd reactions) to have been put straight to tape from the in concert performance. That leaves either two choices, they edited and enhanced the hell out of the live recordings or else they went down in studio recording session and the live bits pasted in for ambience. I prefer the latter solution since it makes the most sense.

Will a metal fan enjoy this? Its hard to say. If you are an absolute Jeff Scott Soto fanatic, and there are plenty out there that own everything he has ever done from Kuni to Panther to Kryst the Conquerer and back again - then this is a must have. Otherwise, unless you already have a severe love for the disco era, then by all means, leave this campy thing sitting on the shelf. As for myself, I pop it in now and again just for kitsch factor... its an eerie reminder of why the genre keeled over and died.  Metal and the various forms of rock were all so much better.

Songs - 6.0, Performance - 7.0, Production - 6.5, Lyrics - 6.0

Hot Spots: Grease, Boogie Oogie.. um.
Bottom Line: Jeff Scott Soto + "pure" Disco = Twilight Zone weirdness

Review by Alanna Evans -

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