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Collective Soul

Collective Soul (they lifted their name from a term in Ayn Rand's novel The Fountainhead) had an impressive run in the '90s. When the group had fulfilled its contract, Atlantic put a nice bow on things with "7even Year Itch: Greatest Hits 1994-2001."

Once the group-major label relationship ends, the band is expected to quietly fade away but Collective Soul didn't do that… though initially they came close, taking three years ('02-'04) off. They also lost guitarist Ross Childress who was replaced by the band's longtime guitar tech Joel Kosche.

Collective Soul's sixth studio album "Youth" came out in November, '04, on their own El label. Again, the group suffered a departure. This time it was drummer Shane Evans. Ryan Hoyle filled in as the tour drummer then worked on "Youth" before becoming a full-time member.

The next year Collective Soul released an eight-song acoustic EP containing some past hits called "From The Ground Up." Then they performed with the Atlantic Symphony Youth Orchestra. DVD/CD "Home: A Live Concert Recording With The Atlanta Youth Symphony" was the result.

The DIY approach has its appeal. Though leaving a major label often results in a lower profile there's usually a lot less stress. There's no label person hanging around anxiously waiting to hear the next "hit." Also absent is pressure to do this or that or whatever the label deems vitally important at the moment. It also allows a group to some things that are off the beaten path or to move quickly on an emerging opportunity.

Several groups used exclusive deals (music available through a single retailer or service) for downloads or to sell CDs. While not unique, these arrangements were still relatively uncommon in '07 when Collective Soul took their shot at alternative marketing. The group's "Afterwords" CD was initially sold exclusively at Target stores. "There seems to be no right or wrong way in the industry these days and it's exciting to be doing something different," explained frontman Ed Roland. The album (ranges from), "heavy, melodic Rock to the three-minute pop song," added the singer/guitarist. "Afterwords" was also sold digitally via iTunes.

Despite their marketing twists and turns, Collective Soul started in a fairly standard manner. Roland was busy making demos and getting nowhere in Stockridge, GA. But his persistence paid off in '93 when his song "Shine" earned college radio play. That was followed by the album, "Hints, Allegations And Things Left Unsaid" ('94), which was essentially a collection of Roland's demos. In short order, Roland enlisted his brother Dean (rhythm guitar), Will Turpin (bass), Childress and Evans.

"Collective Soul" ('95) built on their debut's success. It featured a number of Modern Rock/pop singles, "December," "Where The River Flows," "The World I Know" and "Gel." Their debut and sophomore albums both went platinum (sales in excess of one million copies). They were tour headliners.

By most accounts Collective Soul was successful - except when it came to their finances. Manager Bill Richardson had the group on the road budgeted at $150 a week (that's 5 guys and $150 or $30 each per week - the average teen living at home can barely make it on that!). Through shrewd manipulation, he also managed to route all song publishing royalties his way. In the end, the group initiated a protracted split from Richardson that turned into a nasty court battle. The group's funds were frozen (no access to their money) and they were restricted from touring or recording. No income usually means no group. Several brutish managers have used this tactic to break a band.

As often happens in the fog of legalese, Collective Soul weren't even sure they had the rights to their group's name.

Such entanglements have destroyed countless bands. To their credit, Collective Soul retreated to a tiny cabin outside of Stockbridge while the lawyers duked it out. They began work on songs that would eventually appear on "Disciplined Breakdown" ('97).

With the legal dust settled, Collective Soul continued their platinum sales streak with "Dosage" ('99). But "Blender" ('00) fell a bit short. Though critically acclaimed, the album merely went gold (that's still pretty good). After that, Atlantic pushed out "7even Year Itch: Greatest Hits 1994-2001" leaving Collective Soul to fend for themselves.

After an extended (2 ½ years) hiatus, Collective Soul returned with '06's "Youth," the band's sixth studio album. It was recorded then re-recorded over a two-year period and made its debut at #66 on the Billboard 200. "Counting The Days" was a Top 10 Rock hit but follow-up singles "Better Now" and "How Do You Love" got more traction on the Adult Top 40 (radio) chart.

During this period, Evans left and was replaced by session drummer Ryan Hoyle.

Good songs are hard to come by. So the natural inclination is to max out their use. That's impetus behind many acoustic and live albums. Typically, the '05 EP "From The Ground Up," consisted of acoustic versions of their catalog. But rarely does a group rope in a symphony orchestra. "Home," a live set, was gleaned from two '05 performances with the Atlanta Symphony Youth Orchestra. An '06 DVD/CD "Home: A Live Concert Recording With The Atlanta Symphony Youth Orchestra augmented the concert package.

Even though Collective Soul named Target stores the "exclusive physical retailer" of '07's "Afterwords," the album made a significant impact online. Issued on iTunes, it peaked at #5 on Billboard's Top Internet Album chart.

Moving to the Roadrunner imprint, Collective Soul released a self-titled effort in '09. The set was nicknamed "Rabbit" due to the rabbit on the cover. "Welcome All Again" and "Staring Down" were released as singles to various radio formats (Rock, Adult, AC).
Collective Soul Discography

Studio Albums:

1993 Hints Allegations And Things Left Unsaid
1995 Collective Soul
1997 Disciplined Breakdown
1999 Dosage
2000 Blender
2004 Youth
2007 Afterwords
2009 Collective Soul
2015 See What You Started by Continuing

"Hints, Allegations And Things Left Unsaid," with the hit "Shine," also features Country and Folk elements. Though a solid start, the set is clearly overshadowed (as is the remainder of the Collective Soul catalog) by their eponymous sophomore effort. Here the group's accessible post-Grunge Rock, driven by sonically dense guitars and Roland's cigarette stained vocals, has bite and a definite edge.

But by "Blender," Collective Soul had installed a more mainstream approach that was far less compelling though more melodic. The trend continued through their post-2000 efforts.

"7even Year Itch: Greatest Hits 1994-2001" is just that - a snapshot of Collective Soul in their prime.

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