Music Review in the Mirror
By: Rob Bardnell
Shooting Stars Mag would like to welcome a guest post from Rob Bardnell. It's been awhile since we've had many music posts, so hopefully this will be the start to more. Leave your comments for him below!
Rock fans, I find, are trivia nuts through and through. The smallest bit of information is the purest of gold, don’t you agree? So, to make it interesting, let’s start today’s column with a “Can you name this band?’’…okay, here are your clues…
A survivor of three record label changes, this alternative/rock/pop quintet (originally signed by Atlantic Records in 1993) has the following credentials: Seven #1 hits, four platinum discs, twenty-one video releases, airplay on one of America’s most viewed television series, an acoustic CD and a live DVD with a youth orchestra.
Need another hint or two? Let’s throw in a few more … with a fan base and album sales in the millions, this hard-touring group has been featured on two highly successful movie soundtracks and despite recent (and past) line-up changes, continues to stay true to their progressive and creative roots, celebrating over fifteen years of music by releasing their eighth studio album in 2009 called…..well…..Rabbit 2009….and hey, there’s some mystery to that, too.
So if after all that, you’ve guessed Collective Soul, you’ve guessed correct. Collectively Right for Collective it is and Collective it shall be as Rabbit brings to life the old days of “Energy”, “Listen”, “She Said” and “Heavy” while mixing in the feel of the discs Youth and Afterwords…..and thus it is Collective indeed. The problem is just where to start with this CD so Song #1 it is.
The disc debuts with what will certainly be a show-opener called “Welcome All Again”. The riffs are hot, the breaks are incredibly clean and it once again shows the dynamic recording technique that Soul fans have so long become accustomed to. Next up is an entertaining “Fuzzy”, something you could easily have found on the Beatles’ White Album. The back-up vocals and harmonies are outstanding. Drummer Cheney Brannon (no Ryan Hoyle on this CD) wraps this tune up with a spirited mini-solo that leads into Song #3 called “Dig”, which not only embodies Brannon’s heavy-hitting style, but also the entire band as guitarists Dean Roland and Joel Kosche cut loose and front man Ed Roland begins to lyrically set the tone for the rest of the disc. This is good old fashion Soul and good old fashioned Ed Roland songwriting. The lead sizzles and Will Turpin’s thumping bass line keeps this listener wanting for more.
In typical Soul fashion, the band follows “Dig” with a lighter tune, this one aptly named “You”, which plays to Ed’s consistent spiritual undertones and highlights the group’s ability to once again produce clean and meaningful music, a characteristic that at times can be overlooked. “You” is followed by a Zep-like “My Days” and proves to be a very strong song on its own. Raw in sound but full of guitar melodies and runs, “Days” brings back memories of the mid-point of the Youth CD and is a great lead into Song #6, “Understanding”, the band’s first real collaboration as co-writers. This tune has it all, from a bit of Queen’s “Sheer Heart Attack” to some of Pink Floyd searing riffs as well as solid back-up vocals and effects. “Staring Down” is next on deck and does not disappoint. Once again Brannon’s influence can be felt here and the well-placed keyboard parts and lyrics set this song apart from the other tunes on Rabbit.
“She Does” follows “Staring Down” at #8 and revs the CD back up as Kosche, Dean Roland and Turpin hit their groove behind Brannon’s beat and they pull off the classic Soul sound and progressions. Extremely good stuff. If you like AC/DC’s sound (tempered with a tad of CS) hang on for the next one, which is penned “Lighten Up”. With a solid beat and strong bass lead-in, this song just sneaks up on you until you’re playing it again. As usual, there’s the full sound, special effects and vocals everywhere. “Love” checks in next at #10 and it’s just plain fun. Fueled by a thumping beat, phase-shifting guitar, strings, keyboards, vocal overlays and a Magical Mystery Tour bridge, “Love” is just that and more. Rabbit ends with a piano-dedicated gospel song in memory of the Roland’s father called, “Hymn For My Father”. It only seems right that “Hymn” should end this CD and Ed’s vocals are as strong as ever, his voice remaining the signature for Collective Soul and its many fans.
Upon review, Collective Soul’s Rabbit is an extremely entertaining and well-produced CD. It is also a time-stamped photograph of the group and where they are at this point in their careers. Successful? They are. Talented? You bet. Slightly forgotten? Possibly….but they will remain what they always shall be and that is Collective Soul.