The story is pretty typical. A group struggles for success, then, in a seeming flash, they are. It lasts for an album or two before the decline sets in. Next, the group falls off the radar for several years. Eventually, they return to the studio and release a "comeback" album. But as Soul Asylum worked on "The Silver Lining," they faced obstacles few bands encounter, much less overcome.
First, guitarist/singer Dave Pirner's New Orleans home was severely damaged by Hurricane Katrina. Bad as that was, it got worse. Bassist Karl Mueller succumbed to throat cancer at the age of 41. Still, Soul Asylum was able to finish the project. But for a band accustomed to ups and downs, that was their toughest patch.
Loud Fast Rules was the original name of the Minneapolis group. Led by Pirner's singing, songwriting and guitar work, Soul Asylum signed a contract with the local Twin Tone label. Thanks to the Twin Tone releases, Pirner and bandmates Mueller, Daniel Murphy (guitar/vocals), and Grant Young (drums) built a regional following and attracted major label attention.
On A&M Records, Soul Asylum's label debut tanked. That caused everything to go south quickly with the band having to cough up 200k to get out of their contract. That debt took four years to pay off. In the meantime, Soul Asylum impressed people at Columbia Records, where they found a new home.
Soul Asylum's maiden Columbia effort did a lot better. Featuring the Country-tinged "Runaway Train," the '92 release, "Grave Dancers Union," was a major success that led to a 56-stop U.S. tour with Spin Doctors and Screaming Trees.
Soul Asylum's follow up in '95, "Let Your Dim Light Shine," contained some strong tracks but it was not as impressive as its predecessor. The CD featured "Promises Broken" written by Murphy and Jayhawks bassist Marc Perlman.
"Candy From A Stranger" arrived in '98 without much notice. However, when former wrestler-turned-politician Jesse Ventura moved into the Minnesota Governor's mansion Pirner performed at the Inaugural Party.
Soul Asylum unfurled "The Silver Lining," their ninth album, in '06, with John Fields on bass. Also added to the line-up were keyboardist Jeff Victor and drummer Michael Bland.
Murphy was quoted as saying the set was a tribute to Mueller. "Definitely I felt it's what Karl wanted and the band has his blessings."
"Delayed Reaction," released in '12, was the band's tenth studio LP but their first new album in six years, their first (and only) with 429 Records and also the first without Mueller. Produced by the group and John Fields, the set was recorded in L.A., New Orleans and Minneapolis.
"Change Of Fortune," arriving four years later, was the group's first studio album under a deal with eOne Music, their third label since leaving Columbia Records following "Candy From A Stranger."
1984 Say What You Will, Clarence... Karl Sold The Truck
1986 Made To Be Broken
1986 While You Were Out
1988 Hang Time
1990 And the Horse They Rode In On
1992 Grave Dancers Union
1995 Let Your Dim Light Shine
1998 Candy From A Stranger
2004 After The Flood: Live From The Grand Forks Prom, June 28, 1997
2006 The Silver Lining
2012 Delayed Reaction
2016 Change Of Fortune
"Grave Dancers Union," with the hit "Runaway Train" was Soul Asylum's commercial breakthrough. However, the argument can and should be made that some of their earlier work, especially the albums "Hang Time" and "Made To Be Broken," have more vitality (read: Rock harder).
A comeback album following a six-year break is usually more hype than substance. Not "Delayed Reaction." Soul Asylum bookend the album with Country influences and Punk shots but it's "Gravity," "Pipe Dream" and "The Juice," that provide the Indie Rock tour de force.