Disciplined Breakdown

Collective Soul

Atlantic Records, 1997


REVIEW BY: Christopher Thelen


In the battle of hype versus content, way too many bands fall victim to the hype - like yesterday's review subject, the Gin Blossoms. Southern rock band Collective Soul was very much in danger of falling into the same trap after the initial success of their song "Shine" and the success of their self-titled second album, success I couldn't understand for the life of me.

So when their third album Disciplined Breakdown came out earlier this year, I was not looking forward to listening to it. However, Ed Roland and crew have shaken off the hype and returned to their roots to record their finest album to date.

After radio stations across the country played songs like "The World I Know," "December" and, to a lesser extent, "Gel" to death, Collective Soul needed an impetus to return them to the music and away from the hype. Their bitter departure with their management provided that spark; many of the songs on this album reflect a hidden anger within the band. One of the first singles, "Precious Declaration," displays this very well: "Hitched a ride to the peaceful side of town / Then proceeded where thieves were no longer found."my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

The band has refined their sound to its best yet; the guitar of Roland, his brother Dean and lead axeman Ross Childress provide both grinding rawness and gentle harmonies to the backbeat of bassist Will Turpin and drummer Shane Evans.

One of the first singles, "Maybe," is not only the best song on Disciplined Breakdown, but is also the prettiest song Collective Soul has ever recorded. Written in memory of a deceased friend, Roland's vocals run a gamut of emotions, from sadness and despair over the loss, to hopefulness that this person has now found peace. The harmony vocals and U2-like guitar jangle in the background is a glorious noise that must be heard.

The title track clocks in at under three minutes, but says so much in a short period of time. It is songs like this that show how far Collective Soul has come since they burst forth on the music scene with "Shine."

But the greatest growth Collective Soul shows on this album isn't on the two singles thus far. While Collective Soul was made up of mostly filler tracks in between the overplayed-but-okay hits, Disciplined Breakdown doesn't have a weak moment on it anywhere. Roland and crew eschew the hit single format on may of the songs to let the music do the talking - and it screams to be heard. "Blame" starts off with an acoustic guitar lead, then kicks into a number that is as pretty as it is pissed: "You pushed me down / For all the world to see / I guess that's your price / For my loyalty." Other songs like "Giving," "In Between" and "Crowded Head" stand out as well.

Why was this album so much better? It could have been the mindframe of the band, as the lyrics tend to show. It could have been the setting - they chose to record the album in a shack instead of a fancy studio. It could have been the culmination of three years together, sharing both downs and ups (like their performance at Woodstock '94) and growing together. Whatever it was, it worked.

Disciplined Breakdown is a rarity in the music industry these days - it is, from cover to cover, an album of music - well written, emotional, tightly-played music. This could easily be the best album of 1997.

Rating: A

User Rating: A


How could one have such different oppinions of the two albums ..... seems like crazy talk to me.
Great album from a vastly underrated band.

© 1997 Christopher Thelen and The Daily Vault. All rights reserved. Review or any portion may not be reproduced without written permission. Cover art is the intellectual property of Atlantic Records, and is used for informational purposes only.