For me, this was a local band making it big. Collective Soul was from Stockbridge, GA which was just outside of Atlanta so for they were a local band since I lived just outside of Atlanta as well…only in a slightly different area. The band was Ed Roland, brother Dean Roland, Will Turpin, Ross Childress and Shane Evans. Ed Roland was the driving, creative force behind the band and still is today.
The band started selling numerous copies of their debut album ‘Hints Allegations and Things Left Unsaid’ without a record label’s help. I think they sold over 10,000 copies. The record companies took notice and they were snatched up pretty quickly. In 1994, Atlantic Records signed them and basically slapped their label name on the disc and put it out since the album was already made. Not a bad investment. The rest is history.
Now we are over 25 years later and the band is getting ready to release their 10th studio album and to celebrate, I thought I would rank all their albums from worst to first. And let me tell you this was really hard for me. Collective Soul is a very consistent band. They have a sound that is consistent throughout all albums. They don’t venture far from their formula and why should they. This is amazing considering they have been through 3 lead guitarists over the years, but have kept that same guitar sound.
The hard thing for me is what order as on any given day I can like one album more than the other and then back to liking another one. There isn’t a bad album in the bunch only some I like more than others. I stuck with only the Studio albums, no collections, no E.Ps and no live albums so not everything is here on this list. I hope you enjoy it and maybe discover a band you weren’t all too familiar with.
WORST – AFTERWORDS (2007)
The one album I would consider the worst is ‘Afterwords’. It is a fine album with some good songs, but only some. The overall album was a little more poppy than previous albums and it was a little lifeless. What I mean is that the hooks weren’t there. They always have great hooks in their choruses and this didn’t really have them. Out of all their albums, this is the one I have listened to the least and the quickest I stopped listening to one.
Now, there were some good songs. I really enjoyed the rocking opening track “New Vibration” and another guitar heavy song “Persuasion of You” I also enjoyed “Bearing Witness” as well as “All That I Know”. They had a hit with “Hollywood”, but while it was decent enough it was really cheesy for me. If you are a fan, it is still a must for the collection.
#9 – HINTS ALLEGATIONS AND THINGS LEFT UNSAID (1993/1994)
Here is where I am going to take a beating from fans. I didn’t find their debut to be all that great. This was early 90’s and so there was a grunge sound with some dirty guitar riffs and some darker tones and while it is a good album, it didn’t have the songs for me. Yes, it had the incredible and signature track of “Shine” which I love, but there were not many more that could grab me like this one.
I felt it was a band finding themselves and trying to discover who they really are. As their albums progressed, the songs got better and the band settled in and accepted who they were. This was a wonderful first step in that process. Now, where ‘Afterwords’ was too pop, this one was too grunge for me (if you could consider it grunge). I did like some other songs including “Sister Don’t Cry”, the acoustic feel of “Heaven’s Already Here” as well as “All” and “Scream”.
#8 – COLLECTIVE SOUL (2009)
This album opens so strong, but definitely fades a little by the end. The opening track of “Welcome All Again” comes at you with a slow build and then cranks it up, “Fuzzy” gives you the ‘fuzzy’ guitar sound and some strange whistling and then another great rocking track with “Dig”. A great start for the album.
The remaining album still has some strong songs including “You”, “My Days” and “She Does”. I think I liked the songs from the next 6 albums more than the rest of this album. I also deducted a point for re-using the “Collective Soul” title as that lacks originality even though most Collective Soul fans call this one “Rabbit”.
#7 – COLLECTIVE SOUL (1995)
The bands second album and what a huge step forward from the debut. This had some solid songs on it and the ones that were best weren’t straight up rockers. They were a little slower in tempo such as “December” and “The World I Know” which are a couple of my favorite tracks. That doesn’t mean they didn’t have some rockers because “Gel” kicked some ass for me.
I would have to say all of the first 7 songs were smashing. It was the last 4 that started to lose some of the spark for me. But the album still scores fairly high off the strength of “Simple”, “Untitled”, “Smashing Young Man” and another favorite rocking track of “Where the River Flows”.
#6 – SEE WHAT YOU STARTED BY CONTINUING (2015)
Who would have thought a band over 20 years into their career would deliver an album as strong as this one. The band’s latest studio album (at this point) shows they still have some fire left and enough creativity to keep the Collective Soul sound interesting. Out of all their albums, this one might be the most fun. Not the best, but just fun. Fast tempos, great grooves and hookiness out the ass (yes, I am making up words). This album kept the leg bouncing throughout and it felt fresh.
So many songs are now considered classics for me including what might be my favorite on the album “Exposed” as well as “This”, “Hurricane” and “AYTA (Are You The Answer)”. I also loved the guitar riff on “Contagious” and “Life” and the song “Memoirs of 2005” was one of the best written songs on the album. The album wasn’t perfect, but man what a breath of fresh air from these guys.
#5 – BLOOD (2019):
Their latest album is a celebration of a band that has been together for 25 years. The album kept that Collective Soul sound while at the same time allowing them to explore different styles and sonics that shows the range and talent that few bands have. There was an uplifting spirit to the album that really drew me in and reignited the love I hav for this band.
My favorite song on the album was easily “Them Blues” with its blues sound and Jessie’s minute long guitar solo to end the song. Other great tracks were “Crushed”, “Now’s The Time”, “Over Me” and the ballad “Changed”. You also get a guest appearance by Tommy Shaw of Styx on “Porch Swing” which takes the band back to their Southern Roots. The album hit on all cylinders and could move up on the list the longer I sit with it. Too soon for now.
#4 – DISCIPLINED BREAKDOWN (1995)
‘Disciplined Breakdown’ was a very guitar heavy album which is always great for me. The opening barn-burner of “Precious Declaration” and the title track just kick your ass with gritty guitar sounds and chorus that rock out. And then you get something like “Blame” which starts out with acoustic guitars before kicking it up a notch and delivering one of their finest performances on the album with the song “Maybe” being a close second.
They always seem to have some quirkiness to their albums which sometimes works and sometimes doesn’t, but this one does with “Crowded Head”. The album has other great songs including “Listen” and the great closing track of “Everything”. The band was starting to really hit their stride on this, their third album. From this point on for the next 10 years, they kicked major ass.
#3 – YOUTH (2004)
This was the band’s sixth studio album and the first on their own label. It was also the band’s first album without original lead guitarist Ross Childress. I was worried they would miss a beat or lose that Collective Soul sound and thankfully that was not the case. The album didn’t have that heavy sound, but it was still filled with great guitar riffs and a guitar heavy album.
From the opening bell with “Better Now” you knew it was still Collective Soul and that you were in for a treat. Some of the better rock tracks were “Counting the Days” and “Feels Like (It Feels Alright)”. The band had a softer side on this album which I thought was some of their best including one of my favorite CS tracks “How Do You Love”. A few others I loved were “Perfect to Stay”, “Him” and “Home” which weren’t all out rockers and not quite ballads, but the softer side was quite nice.
#2 – BLENDER (2000)
Up to this point in the list, I haven’t liked every single Collective Soul song on an entire album. For these last two albums, that is not the case. There is not a bad on either of these albums, but this one I like only slightly less than the #1 album. ‘Blender’ was an album that was a total blast for me from the opening guitar riffs on “Skin” to the blazing speed of the rocker “Happiness”. Almost total perfection.
After the opening track things don’t slow down with “Vent” and then you get the great “Why, Part 2” (don’t know if there is a Part 1). There is also the On the softer side, they nail it with “Ten Year Later” and even have a duet called “Perfect Day” with the great Elton John. But the rockers are the winners here with “You Speak My Language” and a favorite called “Boast”. The album is why I will always be a Collective Soul fan.
#1 – DOSAGE (1999)
The band’s fourth studio album and what I think is the best. They hit the mark and made the perfect Collective Soul album. The opening track “Tremble For My Beloved” was so incredible when I first heard it. It was different, but felt familiar at the same time and just drew me in. But it was the first single, “Heavy” that told me this album was going to be one like no other Collective Soul before it. It was a straight up rocker with a nasty riff and showed they had some balls.
They had some pop tendencies on this one as well with “No More No Less” with the great “Dandy Life” which was the first song not sung by Ed Roland. It was sung by lead guitarist Ross Childress. They also had a softer side which has a running for my favorite CS song called “Run”. And a few other songs that were outstanding were “Compliment”, “Generate” and a hidden track called “She Said” that helped take this album to the next level. So much goodness here I could go on and on.
And there you have it, the Collective Soul studio albums in order of how I rank them from the worst to the best. When their new album comes out in 2019, I will come back and see where it ranks. Let me know what you think. Where did we differ and where did we agree. What is fun about these list is how differently each album impacts people. What I like, you might not, but we like the same band and that is all that matters really.