It’s rare that I like a band that consistently puts out albums that have four or more standout tracks. Collective Soul is that band. From the pop fuzz guitar on “Shine” to the acoustic strings of “Youth,” Collective Soul has balanced on the edge of rock and pop for over ten years.
I became interested in Collective Soul through their first single, “Shine.” I remember not really careing about the rest of their first album, although “Breathe” is a decent enough track. Of course, it was their self-titled second album that really ranks up there as one of the best rock albums of the 90s.
Nearly every track on Collective Soul is a standout. “Gel,” “Smashing Young Man,” December” and “The World I Know” rocked like nobody’s business. I distinctly remember buying the CD, putting in my car’s stereo and being blown away by every track. I hadn’t heard a complete album like that since U2’s Joshua Tree. When I say complete, I mean every track is a worthwhile cut. They may not be all hits, but it’s an album of singles as opposed to an album of hit song and throwaways.
Over the next few years, the band put out power pop/rock radio friendly albums of catchy riffs and haunting vocals. I recently listened to the band’s third album, Disciplined Breakdown, and I was struck by how much of that album is fueled by relationships falling apart. “Listen” and “Maybe” sound more mature to my older ears.
I began this journey into my Collective Soul collection because I had recently purchased the Home DVD, a concert pairing Collective Soul with the Atlanta Symphoney Youth Orchestra. I heard the Metallica and Scorpions albums with large orchestras and enjoyed the bombastic nature the orchestra provided to the music, but I wouldn’t buy it. However, I do own the KISS concert DVD with the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra, but I’m the biggest KISS fan you’ll ever meet so I had to own that DVD. It was pretentious and over the top, but there are some nice moments.
Collective Soul has always incorporated strings from the beginning. “Pretty Donna” off of their first album just sounds amazing live on Home. “The World I Know,” “How Do You Love” and “Needs” all benefit from the orchestra. Other more guitar oriented tracks like “Gel,” “Better Now” and “Heavy” sound fine with the horns, but I’d rather hear more crunch.
I saw the band live right after Precious Declaration hit and they rocked the house. They even did a cover of “Crazy Train” by Ozzy and blew the roof off at EIU. Speaking of covers, CS also did one of my favorite covers with U2’s “I Will Follow” at one of the Woodstock shows.
If you dig good old fashioned rock and roll, buy or rent Collective Soul • Home. You won’t be disappointed.