I first got into COLLECTIVE SOUL in 1994. My late mother threw me a surprise birthday party for me turning 21, right? All my friends were there, including my buddy Steve who I’ve mentioned here before. Before he leaves he goes, “You gotta check out this band!” Now with a previous track record of him turning me onto WARRIOR SOUL, LOVE/HATE, and SAIGON KICK of course I was all ears. So he fires up the tape (Yis, the tape!) of Hints, Allegations & Things Left Unsaid and the strains of “Shine” come through the speakers and I was enthralled. So much so that the next day I hightailed it to Sam Goody to buy a copy for the train ride back to Philly. Their next three albums were sheer perfection as well and I saw all four tours.
Since 2000 the band’s output has been hit or miss with me. But enough with the history, let’s talk about the new COLLECTIVE SOUL record Blood (out now, Fuzze-Flex Records/ADA) and what the boys have come up with this time. Right from the start I knew this was gonna be a good one. Opener “Now’s the Time” sounds just like vintage CS while remaining fresh. “Over Me” is fast and rocks hard with some sweet vocal harmonies. Singer/guitarist E Roland is still in fine voice and sounds like he hasn’t aged a day while bandmates Dean Roland(rhythm guitar), Jesse Triplett (lead guitar/background vocals), Will Turpin (bass/background vocals), Johnny Rabb (drums/background vocals) have a definite spring in their step as well.
Leadoff single “Right As Rain” is just one of those great rock and roll songs that quite frankly I have to hit REPEAT on at least four times before I can move on. Optimistic and uplifting, it’s a perfect antidote to the poisonous shitshow of a world we inhabit in 2019. “Them Blues” has a bouncy piano melody that pendulum swings on the chorus, while “Good Place to Start” features spoken word verses and a sing-along hook. Another of my favorites though is “Observation of Thoughts.” As the track crescendos I can feel it in my chest and I hope that they add this one to their live set if they haven’t already. “Changed” is achingly beautiful and tugs at the heartstrings, Roland singing with passion, something he never seems to have lost. I admire that.
Shades of the band’s sophomore album pepper “Big Sky” and I could totally see it on there, not that that’s a bad thing by any means. And now we come to closer “Porch Swing.” This is now one of my favorite tunes these guys have ever come up with. It’s a marvelous track from start to finish and features background vocals and tasteful dobro licks from none other than STYX guitarist/vocalist Tommy Shaw. This is another one that must be played a half dozen times before I can go elsewhere. All told COLLECTIVE SOUL have delivered a winner with Blood. This is the best record they’ve made since Youth, and it encapsulates everything I love about the band. Here’s to a job well done, fellas. Pick this one up ASAP, people!!
STANDOUT TRACKS: “Porch Swing”, “Right As Rain”, “Observation of Thoughts”, “Over Me”