In 1994, the alternative movement had been in full swing for about 2 years ever since Nirvana released their breakthrough album NEVERMIND that changed the course of pop music forever. That same year (1994), Nirvana leader Kurt Cobain would be found dead and alternative would no longer be the innovative genre it was when they came along. With grunge on the verge of becoming a parody of itself, slowly mainstream rock was on its way back to being a legitimate style, and a band like Collective Soul was to lead the way. Of course, at the time their debut album HINTS, ALLEGATIONS & THINGS LEFT UNSAID was being recorded, there wasn't a band so to speak, just Ed Roland performing solo on a demo tape. His record company loved it enough so that Roland reformed the recently-disbanded group to be Collective Soul again. It was a good move because Ed Roland may have been the man behind Collective Soul, but he couldn't have done it all alone (What to do when he begins to tour? He can't play all the instruments then, can he?). The first single, "Shine" blasted out of many a radio during the summer of 1994, and not only did it become a hit on alternative radio (despite the fact that Collective Soul has never referred to themselves as a grunge band), but became a considerable hit on top 40 radio as well, even being certified gold. The guitars may have been loud and bombastic, but the lyrics were something grunge could never have mastered: an upbeat song of spiritual searching with a positive message. "Shine" could have also worked as a gospel tune, and would be remade as such by Dolly Parton on her LITTLE SPARROW album. With songs like this, Ed Roland shows he may be a less-depressing role model for the music that would eventually metamorphasize into modern rock. "Sister Don't Cry", "Heaven's Already Here" and "Reach" are much more encouraging and upbeat than any of the many "hate myself and want to die" manifestos that all the other grunge acts were creating. There are also songs that have been made just to play loud and hard, like "Love Lifted Me", "Wasting Time", "Goodnight, Good Guy" and the punk-inspired "Scream". To further show Collective Soul's multi-faceted personality, "In A Moment", "Burning Bridges" and "All" have more in common with Badfinger than Bad Company, thanks to their luscious vocal harmonies. With alternative and grunge's days numbered in the spring of 1994, pioneers like Pearl Jam and Nirvana (or its offshoot, the Foo Fighters) would need to think fast if they wanted to stay in the game. Both of those bands have done that by evoking the past they so much wanted to avoid when they made touchstones like NEVERMIND and TEN. As a result, modern rock bands have become less distinctive than usual. But while Collective Soul may have been considered hacks at the time they arrived, and to some extent still are today, HINTS, ALLEGATIONS & THINGS LEFT UNSAID sort of foreshadowed grunge's eventual fall in favor (which started with Kurt Cobain's suicide) with its aim to merge elements of older genres with more modern techniques. And with that, they indicated that would be the ultimate remedy for a modern rock band wishing to stay afloat after the trend they came in on ran out of steam.
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