Ahhhh, it seems the hefty royalties and fat paychecks have finally rolled into Ed Roland and his collection of souls, leaving him so much free time that he feels no need to dig into the realities of life that once graced him and made him a feeling songwriter. Blender spews out rehashes of old licks, worn tunes reworked and renamed with only a smattering of digital frills thrown in to make the unaware and newer listener of Collective Soul believe they have new and fresh material. To put it in simpler words, it’s the same old thing with brand new names. “Ten Years Later” reeks once again of Pink Floyd influences, as did “Crown” from the 1998 Collective Soul release Dosage. The first single to hit radio airwaves is entitled “Why Part 2,” and this is because Collective Soul recorded and released an older tune entitled “Why” on import singles of “December” back when the band’s self-titled CD was soaring the charts back in 1996. A forgotten deejay said of “Why Part 2,” as it was played the first time on his station, “They should have just called it “Gel Part 2,” because that’s what it sounds like!”, and he couldn’t be closer to the truth.
Of course, Roland couldn’t put out a recording without adding some controversial religious propaganda tossed in to fuel the religious debates so common among the band’s rabid and often obsessed fanbase, and he manages to tuck in a little “Jesus statement” safely whispered in the tune “Skin.” Wow. What a creative concept. Add the “Jesus statement” in a song that drips with sexuality. What Roland really needs to do is to stop fueling religious wars (Lord knows we have enough of those in reality!) among his fanbase and openly (and finally!) admit his religious beliefs and quit using it as a marketing tool. It’s getting as old as the songs he keeps rewriting and renaming.
The saddest part of this whole “new” CD is that the best tune on the whole recording is not one that Roland wrote at all. It is a cover tune of the old Morphine hit, “You Speak My Language.” I read one review of the band’s performance at Rockfest in Atlanta last year that said, “You know a band’s merit as songwriters when in a live performance, the best thing they play is a cover tune!” in speaking of Collective Soul’s live performance of Ozzy Osbourne’s “Crazy Train.” And so it is with this latest offering from Atlanta’s brightest sons; this only proves they’d be better as a cover band!
Also propping up Collective Soul’s loss of integrity in this recording is the “guest appearances” of several artists such as Shawn Mullins, Marvelous 3, and even Sir Elton John, who joins in with the band on “A Perfect Day.” It may be a perfect day for Ed and his bosom buddy Elton, but it is a sad day for Collective Soul fans who expected Roland to continue to give everyone new and fresh looks into his own soul through his music. With Blender, all anyone will see is a reflection of what was in the past and the lack of initiative or caring to give the fans a new and deeper look at its creator. Even sucking up to Sir Elton can’t help Roland and Collective Soul make this clunker a winning recording. Don’t waste the money on this purchase, just dig out the old Collective Soul CDs and listen to those — after all, it’s pretty much the same thing.
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