Wednesday, April 28, 2010

CD Odyssey Disc 122: Collective Soul

The next disc features an album with one of the longest titles in music history.

Disc 122 is...Hints, Allegations and Things Left Unsaid
Artist: Collective Soul

Year of Release: 1993

How I Came To Know It: My buddy Greg bought this album when we were room-mates. It fast become a favourite in the house, as at the time it landed in that rare intersection of "stuff we both like." I was pleasantly surprised that when I moved in with Sheila she also owned it. Libras - whaddya gonna do?

How It Stacks Up: We only have the one collective soul album, so can't really stack up. However, our friend Andrew was over earlier tonight and he reminded us that their follow up album, is also quite good.

Rating: 3 stars.

Collective Soul took the music scene pretty hard with this album in the early nineties. They are actually Christian rock - and one of the few examples of it that cracked the mainstream.

My previous exposure to Christian rock was Stryper - a crazy hair metal band in the eighties that preached the Word while decked out in striped (stryped?) black and yellow spandex. They were truly, truly awful. Sometimes, when I see a wasp up too close, I panic and have a flashback to a bad Stryper video.

No thank you. If I want a good wasp video I'll take Blackie Lawless singing "I Wanna Be Somebody" dammit. Not so pure, but way better music. But I digress...

Collective Soul is a much better ambassador of the faith-rock movement, and not because they are a gimmick band, or just a band with a message. Instead, they focus on making good music, and whatever else comes secondary. They have that genuine sound you can only get when a rock band is really into what they're doing.

This album is solid throughout, and there are no bad tracks to speak of. At the same time, much of the music sounds fairly similar, so it lacks the dynamic range that a really great album has.

The one exception to this is the very beautiful and simple instrumental "Pretty Donna" which is a string piece that sounds like it could've been written in the 17th Centurry. With the wrong band, or the wrong approach a track like this would sound anachronistic, or self-indulgent. Instead, Collective Soul walks right down the middle and the song just nestles in without pretentions at Track 8.

These guys can also really lay down a groove. "Shine" was a huge (and well-deserved) hit, and almost twenty years later still has an instantly recognizable riff. Who can resist emitting a throaty "yeah" along with the lead singer when this song comes on in the car? Not this guy - I think I even belted out a couple "yeahs" that weren't there.

I also really dig the groovtastic "Love Lifted Me" which felt strongly like Pearl Jam, but not in a Creed "we just ripped off Eddie Vedder" kind of way.

Don't get me wrong, "Collective Soul" is not at the same level for me as Pearl Jam, but what they do, they do well, and this record stands the test of time.

Best tracks: Shine, Wasting Time, Sister Don't Cry, Love Lifted Me, Breathe

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