Collective Soul keeps sound, changes look

If you compare the five members of Collective Soul from its last tour and the guys promoting the band’s new album, it looks like someone told them to get a makeover.

But appearance aside, Collective Soul is still the same band that is arguably the most popular modern rock group of the ’90s.

After releasing Disciplined Breakdown in 1997, a disappointment after the band’s first two wildly successful albums, Collective Soul has bounced back with Dosage (Atlantic).

The biggest mystery is why the album’s best song is not listed on the album cover. “She Said,” the number-one hit from the Scream 2 soundtrack, is hidden on the end of the album’s last track. Perhaps the band wanted to sell the album on its merits rather than relying on the popularity of the song’s poppy sound.

A lesser band might not be able to pull off something like that – but this group had eight songs on the top of the modern rock charts. And Collective Soul finds two of its singles wandering up the charts again.

Lead singer and songwriter Ed Roland was not on top of his game on Dosage, as the two singles from the album – “Run” and “Heavy” – rely excessively on musical clich?s. Roland complains “All your weight, it falls on me, it brings me down” in “Heavy” and asks “Have I got a long way to run?” in “Run,” two themes that already have been thoroughly explored in pop music.

In light of his solid writing on past songs such as “Shine,” “Gel” and “December,” the lack of creativity is glaring. But somehow Roland and company make “Run” sprint out of the blocks. The string arrangement that dominates the song, Roland’s moving voice and the wailing of lead guitarist Ross Childress blend together to produce a song that resonates in your soul.

Childress’ guitar-playing is a good enough reason to buy any Collective Soul album. He proves that by carrying songs such as the first track “Tremble for My Beloved” with soaring guitar riffs. His dabbling in songwriting on Dosage could become a staple on future releases from the band after his efforts on the song, “Dandy Life.” Don’t let the hokey title of the song fool you – Collective Soul doesn’t miss a beat, with Childress doing more than just strumming and plucking.

One of the flaws that has surfaced over the course of Collective Soul’s rise is that the band has changed little since its first album – other than some new clothes and different hairdos. But judging from the band’s growing success and popularity and the quality sound of Dosage, Collective Soul probably doesn’t want to ruin a good thing – but too much of a good thing could lead to an overdose for the fans that have adored the group for nearly a decade.

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