WARNING: This one might hurt, and it might trigger some things. In February of 1999 one of my all-time favorite bands COLLECTIVE SOUL released their fourth album Dosage. This is my favorite from them for a number of reasons, many of which I won’t get into here. But what I will say is gonna be pretty graphic. At the time I bought this album I did so with stolen money at Tower Records in Cherry Hill, NJ on a Saturday night. See, I was in the grip of a cocaine possession the likes of which many of you will hopefully never know. I spent many a night alone in my apartment listening to this one and crying over the mess I’d made of my life at age 25. Other times I’d have my drug buddies over and we’d do lines off the CD case all night long.
Oh, hi…welcome to Classic Albums. But in my rare moments of sobriety, like when I was driving home from my job at amazon.com in Delaware, I had a copy of this in my tape deck at all times. And funny enough, it felt GOOD to cry on my way home. I was still in Red Down Below at the time and we were on top of the world, but little did my bandmates (save for Larry) know that I was falling apart. As far as the music goes, this was a bit of a stylistic shift for COLLECTIVE SOUL, as they added programming, drum loops, synth, and mellotron, but to me it all blended together perfectly. As soon as I got home I put a Maxell XL-II 90 in the boom box and dubbed the CD to tape with a quickness for my Monday morning commute to work at 6 a.m.
“Tremble For My Beloved” is just one of my favorite album openers because not only does it rock balls, but the band’s change in style was on full display, and I was fully onboard. “Heavy” is a song that rules not just because of that killer riff, but because RDB performed it live a thousand times and guess what? We knocked the ever-lovin’ shit out of it, how ‘bout that? I can remember playing Outer Limits and getting out there on the empty dance floor and just spinning around with my wireless mic and Old Bessie (my mic stand), completely lost in the moment. I wouldn’t trade that memory for anything in the world. I loved doing that one, I really did. It was also one of my girlfriend’s favorite parts of our set, so there’s that.
“No More No Less” was one of the first songs that began to gnaw at me because of the lyrics, and it made me take a good look in the mirror. I didn’t like what I saw. But as soon as my buddies came a-knockin’ with bags of coke I quickly forgot all about my self-hatred, if only for a little while. The first time I really listened to “Needs” I had to pull the car over because I started bawling right there on 295 in Jersey. “What the fuck are you doing to yourself, man?!? You are BETTER than this!!” I’d tell myself. And I’d tell myself that this was it, no more. I’m DONE! But we all know that wasn’t the case. “Slow” is one of the coolest tunes on this disc, and I spent many a drive home trying (and succeeding) to match the high notes on the chorus.
Former lead guitarist Ross Childress takes over vocals for “Dandy Life” which shocked some of us, but man if it isn’t a really cool track! As miserable as I was at that time, this one always made me smile. Now we come to another song that completely broke me when I first heard it…”Run.” I had seen the video late on VH-1 (while trying to come down from a bender) as they were promoting the Varsity Blues soundtrack. This was easily a month before the album release, but man, when Ed Roland started singing I completely lost it, curled up into a ball and cried. But at the same time this was such an amazing song, and such an inspired piece of writing I loved it, no matter the emotional toll it took on me at the time.
And yet from the pits and depths of emotional Hell I found not only respite, but unbridled joy with “Generate.” I used to catch myself going waaaaay too fast down the highway to this one, alternating between the lead vocal and harmonies, all the while shaking my head back and forth and drumming on the steering wheel! “Compliment” is also one I’ve always found uplifting and fun to sing as well. The waltz of “Not the One” is one that still stays with me to this day, and I often find, while in the deepest darkest recesses of the warehouse at work, that I start singing it. It’s just such a beautiful song that I can’t help it. Closer “Crown” is a rather spacey affair and more proof that the band’s direction had changed a bit, but not to any detriment.
But less than a minute later we get hidden track “She Said”, which was also used for the closing credits of Scream 2, albeit a slightly different version. So there you have it. I know that Classic Albums is usually a happy trip down Memory Lane, but I owe it to myself and to you guys to be 100% honest. In early 1999 all I wanted to do was die. I hated myself and what I had become. But you know what? This COLLECTIVE SOUL album, this masterpiece that IS Dosage, this is what saved me on more than one occasion. I even got to see the tour that spring with Larry, and it was an awesome show. So for all of these memories, good, bad, and ugly, THIS will forever be a Classic Album. ~dc