brent johnson digs up a lost treasure from Collective Soul to go along with Pop-Break’s interview with lead singer Ed Roland …
Today, Pop-Break posted an interview with Collective Soul frontman Ed Roland that reminded me of two things: 1. He’s a pretty cool guy. And 2. He’s an underappreciated songwriter.
Roland’s band arrived during an era that’s polarizing to pop-culture critics. It was just after the reign of Nirvana, and some thought bands like C. Soul and Stone Temple Pilots were cheap knockoffs of grunge — with sleeker production and shinier distortion. Others looked past that and found a string of solid songs hidden under the sheen — catchy riffs, melodic vocal lines, choruses that never vacate your memory. And the best part about ’90s rock: Radio actually played them.
Roland wrote a bunch of these tunes: ‘Shine,’ ‘The World I Know, ‘December, ‘Heavy,’ ‘Why Pt. 2.’
Theoretically, the latter is not a lost song. Those who watched VH1 at the turn of the century or who bought the Varsity Blues soundtrack in 1999 might remember it.
But it was never a massive hit. Maybe it’s because nu-metal and boy bands were taking over. Regardless, ‘Run’ is a beauty. Roland’s vocals flirt with soft falsettos. The hook of the chorus is lovely. The strings swell without too much drama. And the crying electric guitar riff just after those pretty harmonies is a nice touch.
It’s even better live. Last year at the Union County Music Festival in New Jersey, C. Soul closed their set with a surging, drawn-out rendition — ending with Roland strumming an acoustic guitar while the thousands in the crowd sang the words.
No, it doesn’t have the inventiveness of Radiohead. No, it’s not as hip as Vampire Weekend. No, it doesn’t add a club-ready dance beat like Coldplay’s recent record. But sometimes, music doesn’t need to be anything but good.
Click here to read Bill Bodkin’s interview with Ed Roland.