GUEST REVIEW: Creed – My Own Prison (1997 including original mix)

GUEST EPIC REVIEW by ACCA DACCA

CREED 1CREED – My Own Prison (1997 Wind-Up, originally Blue Collar)

Have you ever gotten flak for an artist or genre of music that you enjoy?  Not a whole lot of fun, is it?  Try to imagine that negative opinion not just as common, but as something resembling the general consensus.  One that not only discounts anyone that disagrees, but actively mocks and ridicules them.  Ask anyone you meet on the street: who are the “worst” musical artists of all time?  Chances are, one particular scapegoat of late-90s’ rock will come up…  To say that Creed is a controversial band is putting it lightly.  Perhaps no group in the history of rock and roll has been a casualty of its own fame quite the same way the band composed of vocalist Scott Stapp, guitarist Mark Tremonti, drummer Scott Phillips and bassist Brian Marshall have.  While the amount of fans often rivalled the number of critics in their heyday, as of 2015 the predominant word is negative.  Whether it be from fans moving on or the band’s hiatus keeping them from speaking up for themselves, anything positive is rare.  Case in point: Scott Stapp’s recent mental breakdown in December featured the most press coverage the frontman has had to endure since the turn of the millennium.  EVERYBODY had something to say about it, oftentimes hateful.  What of him now?  He’s pulled himself back together and aside from his own personal PR, only one or two websites actually reported the news.  I’m sure more than a few readers of this review will think he’s still whacked out on drugs, despite spending the last five months at home with his family.

Unfortunately, Creed’s status as something of a pariah maintains that I can’t just hop into the music and give you my personal take.  If I were to do so, I’d likely have more than a few commenters simply reiterating age-old hate for the band or questioning the validity of my perspective because I’m not slinging feces.  So let’s get to it: perhaps the most common strike against Creed is the idea that they’re heavily derivative of Pearl Jam.  Um… have you ever listened to either of these bands?  Generally speaking, Pearl Jam is angry garage rock with guitars that bite but don’t shred, and songs that are intended to coast primarily on the emotion conveyed in Eddie Vedder’s vocals and lyrics.  Creed is arena rock with soaring pop hooks and beefy guitar riffs.  Forgive me if I don’t find those two approaches to be all that similar.  Not to mention the fact that Creed rarely ever treads the political ground that Pearl Jam does, and that the perspective of Pearl Jam’s material is often outward, with the Creed being much more introspective.  To put it simply, Pearl Jam’s songs are often “you, you, you” while Creed’s are “me, me, me.”  If you consider such a point-of-view as pretentious I understand, but I’d rather have someone pointing a finger at themselves than me or a hypothetical “them.”

Of course, this comparison between the bands primarily stemmed from the similarities in Vedder and Stapp’s vocal styles, specifically their employment of what’s known as “yarling” (which involves putting an ‘R’ sound behind enunciations).  I’m not going to try and convince anyone that the two frontmen don’t sound similar, but there are important differences that even a cursory listen will highlight: Vedder has more range and is much more likely to yelp, with his voice cracking as he gets higher and more intense.  Stapp has a richer timbre but over-pronounces his words in a somewhat silly manner that has become common fodder for haters that fancy themselves comedians.  I understand the comparison, but postulating that Stapp “copied” Vedder isn’t wholly substantiated.  Claiming that he sounds exactly like Vedder and applying that comparison to the whole band is outright lunacy.  This didn’t make any sense to me when I only knew either band from their radio hits; having actually dug into each band’s body of work in subsequent years, it now strikes me as pure propaganda.  The fact that the Pearl Jam comparison is blanketed over pretty much EVERY band of the so-called “post-grunge” era just confirms that suspicion.

The next common (and even more ridiculous) complaint is that Creed is somehow Christian rock.  Come again?  Creed isn’t Christian rock anymore than AC/DC is Satanist metal.  Talking about God in a song does not make it religious in and of itself; Christian music involves God as the subject nine times out of ten, with some sort of message of hope through Him conveyed therein.  With Creed, God is only ever mentioned as being there; Stapp’s lyrics allude to the Divine in the same way a person might speak of gravity.  He’s not trying to convert or otherwise convince anyone of his religious convictions, he’s simply stating them as one might a fact of life.  If you dislike this quality that’s fine but it doesn’t make Creed Christian music, even if some of the members are open about their religious convictions.

Even then, to properly interpret these allusions, one must also have some understanding of Stapp’s upbringing.  He, like many youngsters, was born into a religious home.  He had little interaction with his real father, and his mother remarried when he was still a kid.  His stepfather Steven Stapp (from whom Scott took his last name) was a dentist by trade, but a zealot in practice.  He made Scott study the Bible for several hours each day and conclude his time by writing essays about what he learned from the passages he perused (Scott later came to find that Steven was using his essays for Sunday school lessons).  Think that’s bad?  It’s not even the worst of it: whenever Scott messed up, he was physically beaten by Steven.  As in abused.  Steven also set a specific time each week that Scott was to be thrashed for sins that his stepfather “knew he committed but didn’t see.”  Scott was also punished whenever Steven caught him listening to rock and roll, because it’s “the devil’s music.”  To top it off, the doctrine advocated was of an unforgiving God that would damn a soul to Hell for the slightest trespass, lest they live a perfect life.

So why am I telling you all of this?  Because personal experience naturally informs art, and if you were brought up in a household like this, chances are you’d address those feelings through song as well.  It’s all in HOW one addresses these topics that informs the atmosphere.  Scott didn’t write lyrics that concerned themselves with theology because he wanted listeners to believe it, he wrote them because HE didn’t know what to believe about the God he had shoved down his throat by his stepfather.  It’s a fair assessment to assume that his childhood had a massive effect on his personality, not to mention the disparate reactions to the Creed’s music.  It’s a wonder Stapp didn’t have a meltdown before 2014.  Of the common complaints about this band, I consider the Pearl Jam point open for debate.  Do the bands sound alike?  To a degree; both play dour hard rock.  There’s only so much variation one can attain within that template, after all.  The Christian rock charge, however, is simply untrue.  Overall, as far as I’m concerned, both of these sleights were coined not because of their accuracy, but moreso to knock the band off of their perch when they got huge.  With the passing of time, these legends have become fact, and the legend is being printed.  (As a final point, it behooves me to point out that the band was originally to be called Naked Toddler until Brian Marshall suggested the name be changed to Creed).

Finally, you have the general complaint of the era to contend with: Creed is most often resigned to the “post-grunge” monicker.  I don’t care who you are or what you think about grunge, designating a bunch of later artists with a “post-” label when they make pretty much the exact same type of music as their forbears is ridiculous.  Does that make Poison and Guns N’ Roses “post-hair metal” since they appeared relatively late in that particular cycle?  I get that the so-called post-grunge bands are considered much less authentic than their precedents, but the problem with that line of thinking is that grunge didn’t really invent anything, nor were they all that “original.”  Sure, grunge killed hair metal, but there’s a distinct difference between killing and conceiving.  The faces of the sub-genre, Nirvana and Pearl Jam, are watered down punk with a hard rock flair.  Think AC/DC is simplistic?  Nirvana rocks three chord riffs like there’s no tomorrow.  That “yarl” that is so often attributed to Eddie Vedder?  He wasn’t even the first from the scene to use it, much less music at large.  Layne Staley of Alice In Chains holds that dubious distinction for the grunge crowd.  As far as the style’s far-reaching beginnings, Ray Charles, George Jones and Jim Morrison of the Doors all sung with such an affectation before Eddie Vedder was ever a glint in his father’s eye.  Nevermind the fact that Stapp often cites Morrison as perhaps his most formative influence, along with Def Leppard and U2 (or that Scott honed his singing skills in black churches, whose members would frequently goad him to use “soul” as he sung (read: yarling)).

There are a variety of other diatribes against Creed, such as the band taking itself too seriously (didn’t Nirvana, Led Zeppelin and Black Sabbath, among others?), that Scott Stapp was an arrogant ass (John Lennon, Kurt Cobain, Axl Rose?) and that the band was too commercialized…sigh.  This accusation has to be the MOST fragile of the stones thrown at these guys.  Just because a song or album is mainstream does not in and of itself guarantee any sort of quality, good or bad.  Anyone that attempts to postulate otherwise is too far up their own ass to give any other line of thought consideration.  Sure, rock and roll has always had rebellion in its blood, so I can understand that the idea of a rock band NOT pushing such an image as odd.  But let’s not forget that the most respected band of all time, the Beatles, was also the most commercial.

There’s also the charge that the band simply blended in with most of the other like-minded superstars of the time, with LeBrain’s popular line being to colloquially refer to them all as Theory of a NickelCreed.  Maybe so, but if the band was so “generic” why are they singled out as one of the “worst of all time”?  Just because they got big?  And the only way to fight it was to backpedal 110% the other way?  Politics, politics, politics…  and that’s not even the worst of it.  By far the most immature response to this band over the years has not been so much in terms of their output, but the fact that a disturbing amount of haters act like no one else has a damned right to enjoy this band.  As if Creed deserves to be burned at the stake and obliterated from the public record along with anyone that admits to being a fan.  If hold anything but contempt for them you’ve obviously been living under a rock and haven’t experienced the “good stuff” yet.  Are you kidding me?  Yeah, and Creed fans are the stupid ones.

Preamble over.  Can we move on to the actual music now?  That’s what we’re here to discuss, but my pen is pre-ordained to at least address these concerns beforehand, lest I be case out of the “elite” musical regime (which will probably happen anyway since, you know, my argument about Creed consists of more than the age old operandi “they suck because they suck.”  Even now I feel readers skipping past my prose to the comments section to light their torches and take my ass to task for my “transgressions”).


Released in 1997 and selling over six million copies in the United States alone by 2002, My Own Prison heralded the arrival of Creed.  According to a decent amount of the more casual fans and even some critics, this is their best album, and one after which many jumped ship in indignation.  Why?  Because of the first three records from the band, this one is decidedly the least commercial.  The songs mostly just crunch and end, leaving the listener to sort out the details.  Few are trying to be populist anthems.  It’s not my favorite Creed album, but I can see why it’s a popular choice.  The album weaves through mostly introspective stories of faith and loss, with slight forays into light political fair on “In America.”  Overall, this is a moodier and less bombastic affair than the band’s subsequent albums.

Tremonti’s lead guitar ordains the album opener “Torn” with melancholy, and Stapp’s vocals maintain the atmosphere.  “Peace is what they tell me/love, am I unholy?/Lies are what they tell me/Despise you that control me” he sings.  The guitars crash in in full force on the word lies, underscoring the inherent evil of the practice.  “The peace is dead in my soul/I have blamed the reason for/My intentions poor” goes the chorus.  I love the atmosphere and passive, rather than assertive, anger conveyed with the lyrics and instrumental.  Say what you will about this band but they know how to start an album (perhaps not coincidentally, “Torn” along with followup album Human Clay’s opening track “Are You Ready?” are my two favorite songs from this band).

Next comes “Ode”, a quintessential tune about being mistreated by others.  Scott hints at his past here: “One step on your own/And you walk all over me/One head in the clouds/You won’t let go you’re too proud.”  This track is a weaker standout, but still pretty good.  The title track follows at number three.  Perhaps I’m biased, but I consider the song “My Own Prison” to be a classic of ‘90s rock.  The one feat Creed is rarely credited for is their knack for catchy and memorable hooks.  There’s a reason they were so popular, and forgive me if I don’t think they’ve sold 40 million albums just because the general populace has “terrible taste.”  Stapp is often cited for being too earnest with his lyrics and lacking subtlety; well, as far as I’m concerned life isn’t subtle, and he captures that aspect well.  I consider the lyrics of “My Own Prison” to be pure poetry: “So I held my head up high/Hiding hate that burns inside/Which only fuels their selfish pride/We’re all held captive/Out from the sun/A sun that shines on only some/We the meek are all in one.”  I’d be entertained just reading this stuff; can’t really say the same for “Lithium” or “Even Flow.”  As a song, Tremonti and Marshall’s haunting guitar work and Phillips’ dejected drumming elevate the experience to another level.

The album hits something of a snag with the next few tracks in that none of them really stand out from one another (hey, I can make the case that this band is highly underrated but I never implied they were perfect; no artist is).  “Pity for a Dime” is your typical “no one cares about me” song that never really distinguishes itself.  The atmosphere of the album bolsters this track along with the other weak links, but otherwise it’s one that you skip when going for the meat.  The melody is decent, but the point of the lyrics is quickly lost in their redundancy.  Even then, the guitar work starting at 3:50 is a real treat and a standout of Tremonti’s contributions.

“In America” is caught in the same net as “Pity for a Dime”, essentially reprising the same theme.  However, the twist is that Stapp is noting other opinions rather than his own.  I’ve often felt the perspective that Stapp’s lyrics convey to be a hint of subtle genius; he’s merely playing the part of observer, not necessarily “judge” of the politics he addresses.  While I think he’s overlooked as a lyricist, Stapp makes a crucial mistake in his treatment of the central conceit: the hook plays as “ONLY in America.”  Even as someone that actively avoids politics and the news, I know that very few (if any) of the social issues brought up in this song occur solely in Uncle Sam’s domain.  Even if the premise is flawed, the theme of being torn between two extremes is powerful.  That military-esque drum beat at the beginning is a nice touch as well.

Two of the more intense tracks from My Own Prison are “Illusion” and “Unforgiven.”  The former’s dissident fascination with the nature of life is engrossing.  While I wouldn’t call it a standout, it’s also hard to dismiss.  If anything, the song helps maintain the atmosphere and momentum, even if you probably won’t catch yourself reaching for this album solely to hear it.  However, if you’re just letting the album play it certainly adds to the experience.  As for “Unforgiven”, remember Scott’s stepfather and his violently fundamentalist ideas about God?  Well, the title should speak for itself.  Stapp bluntly speaks of his childhood and feelings about that time in his life.  The music is appropriately menacing on this track and it’s a popular live song for the band despite not being released as a single.  Tremonti’s guitar solo is especially striking, no doubt a major part of the song’s popularity.

“Sister” is next, perhaps my least favorite track from Creed’s debut.  Interestingly, it maintains the theme of “Unforgiven”, with the focus shifted onto a sibling of Scott’s that endured similar treatment as he did.  It’s still perhaps the weakest track, but I like the continuity and pondering of the idea of his younger sisters having not one role model as he did, but two (counting Scott himself).  Who says Creed have no artistic merit?  The instrumental and overall atmosphere of the song are much lighter than previous tracks, perhaps underscoring the love one feels for their immediate family.

The ninth slot is filled by a song called “What’s This Life For,” one of the four monster singles from this album.  This is another favorite of fans, myself included.  I appreciate the passion in this track and the yearning for answers.  Call me a sap, but haven’t we all wondered this exact thing at SOME point in our lives?  Sure, it’s not exactly profound nor does the song really offer anything resembling a solution, but I like it.  Shoot me.  (Side note: some assessments of the song I’ve read cite the “don’t have to settle no Goddamn score” part as eliciting giggles.  Am I alone in wondering just what might be funny about that part?  Just because Scott says “Goddamn”?  Note that this word is omitted from the single version; it was 1997 after all).

I like to think the entire album is summed up with the final track “One.”  Stapp reprises that poetic quality from before: “Society blinded by color/why hold down one to raise another” he sings.  Relevant in 2015, don’t you think?  “One, oh one/the only way is one” he imparts on the chorus, backed up by another bright riff from Tremonti.  The song goes on to note the aforementioned prison the narrator finds himself in, as well as the desire to escape and the likelihood of it happening.  To be honest, songs like this remind me much more of U2 than Pearl Jam, with that “save the world” vibe coming in full force.  As such, the song falls prey to some of the same problems that ilk does by sweeping the more intricate complications of these social issues under the rug, but it’s hard not to appreciate the intent behind the song.  I especially like the “flying” effect at 3:16, where the sound circles between speakers, as if to “unite” them once the song kicks back in, just as the band wishes for the world to be united.

Well, if you’ve read this far, I trust that I have your full attention and that you’ve been at least slightly entertained by my ramblings.  A little known fact about this album is that two different versions exist.  Recorded for a meager $6,000, My Own Prison was originally published through Blue Collar Records, a label founded by Creed to get their music out.  The band received some airplay with this version in their native Florida before attracting the attention of major labels.  An exact figure of their pre-fame sales is hard to find, but My Own Prison is quoted as shifting several thousand units before it was bought and reissued by Wind-Up records.  Creed were then called back in to re-record parts of the album, while the rest was remixed to make for a more polished listening experience.  I picked up one of the original copies on eBay a few years ago for about $50.  Back in the day, these things were known to go for a few hundred.  So how do the tracks compare?


Well, the first thing you notice is the lack of dynamic range.  Sure, Creed’s albums have always been among the numerous victims of the loudness wars, in that they’re mixed to blow your head off with sheer noise.  However, believe it or not, the dynamics seem more stylized on the Wind-Up version when compared to the original.  The opening seconds are a perfect example of this: whereas the first strains of “Torn” are a bit quieter before the song crescendos in the re-release, the original is pretty much the same volume throughout.  This goes for all of the tracks to some degree, with certain parts louder and softer given the version.  On a related note, the bass is non-existent on the original version, similar to how it was missing from Metallica’s …And Justice For All.  The remix brings it out a bit more, though ultimately the lead guitar and vocals mostly overpower the other parts.

The re-recorded material mostly amounts to some vocals.  On certain song choruses of the “official” version, Stapp and Tremonti can frequently be heard singing in multiple keys at the same time.  Here, it’s mostly just one at a time.  It sounds to me like an additional acoustic part was added to “In America” as well.  Reverb was also applied to the remix, which I feel adds to the overall atmosphere of the recordings.  Some songs also start at different points, with the odd note or two being cut off, as with “My Own Prison.”  The biggest and most noticeable change is the omission of the original intro to “What’s This Life For”, a quiet little melody that appears nowhere else in the song.  Tremonti is known to play it at concerts when performing, but it’s completely missing from the Wind-Up version.

Overall, if you resent the commercial tendencies of Creed, you might do well to seek out the original mix of this album.  This is the band at their rawest.  However, I wouldn’t recommend a purchase unless you’re actually a fan as prices are frequently steep and the remix isn’t THAT different when all is said and done.  I have one because I’m a collector and completist, as well as a curious listener.  I also have an inkling that as this album nears its 20th anniversary, we might see something of a special edition that features both mixes on separate discs (the perfect gimmick).  Not that I urge you to wait for a hypothetical re-release, but it’s a thought.  Wind-Up released a vinyl compilation celebrating the label’s 15th anniversary in 2013, with the original version of “What’s This Life For” featured.  They obviously have access to the masters and might put it to use at some point.  All in all, the rawer mixes can readily be found on YouTube if you are so inclined to seek them out but don’t want to pay collector prices for an original copy.

For those interested, there’s also a bonus track version of the Wind-Up issue featuring an 11th song by the name of “Bound & Tied.” The bonus track version was available in Central America and Europe, though it might be a little harder to find these days. For U.S. listeners, the song was made available via the soundtrack to the 1998 film Dead Man on Campus. If you can get your hands on the bonus track version of My Own Prison for a reasonable price, I’d say go for it. “Bound & Tied” is a forgotten gem from Creed, with an intriguing into in which each instrument comes in at a different point, gradually intensifying the sound. I especially like the vocal effects, as well as the menacing guitar riff from Tremonti. The lyrics are also much more ominous than most Creed songs: “Tongue-tied, restless and wanting/Looks like you might bite, you might bite/Breathin’ in, breathin’ out, you’re weakened/The poisons hit your mind, your mind/Time’s ticking and it’s got you thinking/You’re happy with your life.” The band seems to be commenting on the double-edged sword that is fame; you seek it, yet can’t escape it once it’s attained.

 


 

In conclusion, if you actually made it this far (scanning or skipping doesn’t count!), my final verdict is that this album is solid.  Classic?  Perhaps at times, but it’s not anything resembling horrible, either.  If your standards are so lofty that a slightly generic album of solid hard rock is your idea of “horrible” music, I envy your musical taste.  Here’s hoping that My Own Prison and Creed as a whole are subject to a re-evaluation of sorts at some point in the future.  If you can listen past your gut reaction to the name and pay attention to the music, you’ll probably find something to like.

Rating: 3.5/5

Thanks for reading, guys! Thank you, Mike, for the opportunity to do this! LeBrain has given me the option to review Creed’s discography, so if you want more let us know in the comments! (P.S. I take no responsibility for the band’s music videos. They’re atrociously dated and corny, at least for the next two albums, and if your only exposure to Creed is of the visual kind I don’t blame you for thinking they’re garbage.)


No sir, thank you Mr. Acca Dacca for a very thought-provoking review!  I really appreciate the time and effort he put into this monster of a review.  I have definitely opened my ears to this band. – LeBrain

Advertisements

61 comments

  1. Interesting. I have never and probably will never listen to Creed, but this brilliant epic post elucidates some interesting questions and leaves me wondering if Creed, in fact deserve its public perception. If anything, i think that Creeds issue is that their sound is in fact, derivative and their message seemed as self important as their lack of musical innovation. Stapps public persona also may have played into it, as he seemed to leave his band high and dry while he was unable to deal with the pressures of stardom, getting into bar fights, drunkenly leaving concerts etc. Bipolar disorder is a motherfucker (speaking from intense personal experience) and is often an indicator of so-called difficult behavior, especially as one is diagnosed or even undiagnosed.

    Liked by 4 people

    1. Sorry to hear about that intense personal experience dude. Without getting into details I know what you’re talking about.

      Watching that Stapp video clip, talking about his psychotic break, was very difficult! I am glad he is doing well now and back with his family.

      I don’t think this is the Creed album I would buy, but Acca Dacca tells me the second album is better. That’s where I think I’d jump in.

      Like

      1. I do like Human Clay better, but I walk around humming “My Own Prison” (the song) quite often, singing the poetic chorus under my breath. I’ve been preparing my second review over the last few days and re-listening to the followup, so it might be a little closer than I thought. I just feel like the band honed their craft on later albums to the point that even the filler is mildly entertaining because of the hooks.

        Liked by 1 person

    2. Hmm, but does a band have to reinvent the wheel to be a good listen? And who exactly is Creed derivative of? I tried to tackle those criticisms head on with my intro, and while I don’t try to present myself as having much (if any) more perspective than the casual observer, I do wonder about that. I’m a fan, but even then I can identify the band based on their sound. Pretty much anything by Mark Tremonti has a specific guitar tuning that is all his own, in addition to a distinctive guitar and bass blend that I haven’t heard anywhere else. It might not jump out as the most original thing you’ve ever heard, but just because a band plays with big riffs and pop hooks doesn’t necessarily mean they’ve copied anyone. On the other hand, it makes the band a little hard to distinguish from others and keeps them from really standing out, so I see your point.

      Ironically, I feel the same way about Alter Bridge as many folks do Creed. To me, THAT band’s music is generic but it’s tighter all around because the band learned from its time with Creed. The only difference is that Myles Kennedy doesn’t have a shred of the charisma or world-weariness that Scott Stapp does, which makes the music a bore to my ears. I’ve also never understood why so many listeners separate two bands that have 3/4 of the same members as if they’re all that different. A Tremonti riff is a Tremonti riff all day long. If the frontman your problem with the music, than how can one go about calling them derivative here but not with AB? Something to chew on.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I really like the sentiment, of like ‘what, am I not even allowed to enjoy x,y, or z?’

        All the great 80s bands like WASP and Motley Crue and Twisted Sister because of the anti hair sentiment at the time I got into music. Or all my childhood Nu Metal bands I’m supposed to be embarrassed of because of today’s anti Nu Metal sentiment.
        I hate that ‘not being allowed to like smething’ feeling some people throw one’s way.

        Like

        1. Yep. It’s enough to make a person bitter and not want to talk about music at all. Fear of ridicule is a pain in the ass. When it comes to hard rock, I like a little of it all: new wave, hair metal, grunge, “post-grunge”, etc. I like to think that gives me a slightly less biased perspective than a lot of music listeners that are apt to draw lines with sub-genres. As Billy Joel said, it’s still rock & roll to me.

          Liked by 1 person

  2. My mom loved Creed when I was growing up so I developed a liking for the band as well. I will stand by that until I die. The music makes sense to me. There are actual themes addressed in an intelligent way. They never deserved the hate man. Ever.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I agree, and that’s the primary point I was trying to communicate with this post. Most grunge rubs me the wrong way because it tries too hard to be esoteric and weird (Melvins, Mudhoney, Soundgarden, etc.) Creed borrowed a bit of the tone of grunge and infused it with simplistic but relatable sentiment and some great hooks. It’s not for everyone (nothing is), but why this band ended up as a punchline is beyond me. Apparently people at Wind-Up Records even hate Creed and make fun of Scott regularly (according to a person on a forum that claimed to know someone that worked there, reliable I know).

      Liked by 1 person

  3. This post was well-written and very insightful. I never really listened to Creed myself, other than what was played on the radio. I too had bands I’d listen to and had to hide for fear of being teased (Duran Duran for one, that I continued to listen to well into the 90s after they dropped in popularity), but it sounds like Scott Stapp had some serious struggles, and regardless of his comparison to Pearl Jam, the criticism seems unfair. There are other bands out there that sound similar to others that don’t get the same critique. Just look at the 1000 bands these days that emulate Green Day… And is Green Day that original, or are they just nicking from 70s punk? It’s one thing to say “Creed makes bad music” on its own, but to say “Creed makes bad music because they sound like Pearl Jam” isn’t fair at all. Shouldn’t there be room for everyone?

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Yep — agreed.

      I don’t know if I would ever be a Creed “fan” but I know my thinking about them has now been 100% reversed. With me, the singer is the biggest part of a band I like, and as much as I now respect Scott’s abilities, it might just not be my taste. I don’t know. I haven’t given up though.

      Full respect to Scott Stapp — a lot of the things said and done were the result of an undiagnosed disease. Hard to blame a fella for that.

      Liked by 2 people

    2. Amen. As I said in another comment above, I’ve never held the belief that an artist has to reinvent the wheel to be “good” music. My handle is taken from the Australian name for AC/DC. They’re about as generic as it gets, but I love the band to death. Ain’t nothing wrong with that.

      Liked by 2 people

  4. I bought the first three Creed albums. Do I listen to them now? Nope but a real good band AlterBridge came out of Creeds Ashes….this was well written piece! Detailed informative and too be honest a good time to drop a review as they have completely skidded off the map!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yeah Deke and with Mark Tremonti being so busy with his own projects, when will Creed rise again? I think they will in time. Tremonti will have a break in his schedule, Scott will be re-energized by his new lease on life…could be good if it happens.

      Like

      1. Apparently Ryan Adams offered to produce a Creed record should the band ever resume operations. I highly doubt that would happen, or that the band will get back together any time soon if they ever do. Tremonti has said several times that Scott is hard to deal with. It’ll help that there’s an actual medical diagnosis behind that behavior now, but Tremonti has gone on record several times as saying that he writes for three bands (Creed, Alter Bridge, Tremonti solo), and the latter two of those are pretty much stress-free. Even as someone who prefers the former to either of the latters, I can’t blame the man for wanting to abstain from more pain. It must be hard to see a band you co-founded and took to the top to be torn down unceremoniously.

        Liked by 1 person

        1. I’m sure that if Scott was difficult in the past, he would be different today. But also, an artist can be difficult by nature when you’re in a creative environment. It all depends!

          Like

      2. Well, not a week after I posted my doubts about any sort of reunion, Stapp starts generating publicity for the band. Apparently a “retrospective” with three discs that includes hits, acoustic versions of hits, favorite album tracks and demos by Creed will hit shelves in November. The website has been given a facelift. Their YouTube account has had new videos uploaded for the first time in 5 years. Stapp is confident that the band will resume and release a studio record within the next two years, with the members still pursuing their current projects (Tremonti touring solo, promoting his new record Cauterize and followup Dust for early 2016, Stapp beginning to record new solo album, new Alter Bridge in 2016).

        All of the Creed stuff was announced within the last few days, ironically. Perhaps it’s not all doom and gloom after all. However, Creed’s management has a history of mistreating the band as I’ve hinted at. There was supposed to be some sort of deluxe live album box set a few years ago that never materialized but got far enough along for a trailer to be released. There was a feature-length documentary shot and edited for the band that the creator was asking a pretty penny for, and rather than pay Wind-Up ditched it entirely. I’ll believe this box set when I have my copy in my hands. If we actually get that far, I’ll include it in this series (assuming I can ever find the time to finish my Human Clay review).

        Wind-Up was recently acquired by the Bicycle Company, and it appears as though they’re looking to make some money off of the name. Honestly, I’m surprised they didn’t just go with the special edition remaster/reissue route with the band’s actual studio albums. That surely would have brought in more revenue, in addition to perhaps giving the band that chance for a reappraisal I hinted at in my own review. Instead, they’re going with what is basically a deluxe greatest hits album, perhaps owing to the nature of the music business these days with digital singles and streaming. Three discs is a lot of space, particularly for a band with only four proper studio albums, but I’m afraid the change of management might render this one a little on the anemic side. The Bicycle Company has never released a Creed record, so no doubt they’ll include ALL the popular songs, probably in addition to the acoustic versions. That doesn’t bode well for the unreleased or “rare” content, particularly if they go the standard route of including demos of popular songs instead of long lost songs that were never completed. I love this band, but I don’t need three or four versions of “With Arms Wide Open” on one release.

        It kind of stinks, because they have quite a few non-album tracks for a band of their relatively short lifespan. They played “Roadhouse Blues” live with Robbie Krieger at Woodstock ’99 for Pete’s sake! Let’s hear some of THAT type of stuff!

        Like

  5. Nice preamble there (worthy of being a post all by itself). I’ve never subscribed to the Pearl Jam and EdVed comparisons myself. Seemed like the blanket argument – I heard or read that with loads of post-Pearl Jam bands (including Stone Temple Pilots, Candlebox, and Seven Mary Three). I also found Stapp to remind me more of Staley than EdVed, too.

    I couldn’t say why folks have such a burning hatred. Might be a tad unfair (and I’m sure fans of Nickelback think the same), though I think Daddydinorawk makes a good point in their comment.

    Personally I just don’t like them. There’s no contempt for them and their fans, the music just does nothing for me. Well played and crafted as it may be.

    Still, a well written review and, like I said, a fine preamble.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Hey J, I agree — he could have made this into a two-parter easily! But having it all here as one statement works too.

      I also agree, reminds me more of Staley now.

      I feel bad, because I’ve made my fair share of Creed jokes. At the same time I’m going to let myself off the hook because I poke fun at everybody…but the opening paragraph there really made sense. Must suck to have people constantly telling you that your favourite band is shite, all the time.

      Liked by 2 people

        1. You won’t get much of a debate from me on Nickelback. Except to say that, as a big fan of AC/DC, I consider Nickelback to be the modern equivalent. Think about it: they re-write all their own songs, use simplistic riffs, and only talk about sex, drugs and rock and roll. Let’s not forget that AC/DC used to be reviled at large years ago, only recently have they enjoyed something of a renaissance and renewed sense of respect from the musical zeitgeist. Even then, plenty of music fans still hate them. Unfortunately, Nickelback won’t ever enjoy that revisionist history trend because all of the hate towards them is being logged onto the internet and will exist forever. All those scathing reviews for AC/DC in Rolling Stone and other places have been lost to time because they were printed, not digital. Same is probably true of Creed, hence why if you bring the band up it’s grounds for a lashing these days more often than not. At least when they were big there was a chance of running into a few like-minded fans.

          As for comparisons between Creed and Nickelback, I’ve never really understood them. I think the element they have most in common is their dubious reputations and “worst of all-time” labels, not much else. Creed is family-friendly spiritual pop/rock, whereas Nickelback is down and dirty douchebag rock. They appeared around the same time, but that’s purely incidental. The primary difference between the two in my mind is that I feel like Creed at least TRIES to be something greater than the sum of their parts, whereas Nickelback is pretty much content to be what they are. It’s up to the listener whether Creed actually succeeds at what they set out to do, but I give them props for effort.

          Liked by 1 person

  6. I loved ‘My own Prison’ when I first heard it (mostly because it reminded me of Pearl Jam), but songs like ‘With Arms Wide Open’ really turned me off. Eventually they seemed to turn into a caricature of themselves.

    Liked by 2 people

      1. Yeah, probably because of how ballady it was. Plus it was WAY overplayed on the radio. That never helps. Led Zepp IV is a great album, but I’ve heard it soooo many times that if I never hear it again it will be too soon. And ‘With Arms Wide Open’ is nowhere near as good as ‘Stairway.’

        Liked by 1 person

        1. Yes. I will change the station immediately if Stairway comes on. Not because I dont like it. Its actually a beautiful song with an amazing solo. But damnit if I would rather hear Achillies Last Stand. Arms Wide Open is not just too balady its one of the corniest songs Ive ever heard.

          Liked by 1 person

    1. I think they became a caricature of themselves more because of critics’ tendencies to make fun of, rather than intellectually break down the band’s music. That was part of my inspiration to write this review. It’d be one thing if most of the articles online attempted to be intellectual and pragmatic like I am. Instead, 99% of them are poor man’s one-liners and attempts at comedy. If every single review of Led Zeppelin was a stupid joke, it might seem like THEY were caricatures of themselves as well. It’s seemingly impossible to find a review that attempts to take Creed seriously, if only for a moment, without the need for cheap shots. Hell, if we’re comparing the two, Tremonti isn’t Jimmy Page, but he’s still a great and underrated guitarist in his own right. Stapp doesn’t have the range of Plant, but he has the added benefit of discernible lyrics and thematics that aren’t beholden to a bunch of random Norse mythology and Tolkien references. “Stairway to Heaven”? That song is unbelievably pretentious, particularly given that it pretty much consists of doing drugs (they’re the mythical stairway, heaven is the high). The fact that Robert Plant and co. have to guess, as opposed to just state, what they meant at the time deflates the entire experience for me. They were completely drugged-out and the songs aren’t about anything coherent. At least “With Arms Wide Open” has a point to it, whatever one might think of the song.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Funny you should mention Stairway…back in my highschool days, my friends and I would write “mock” Led Zeppelin lyrics. We’d throw in Tolkien and try to make it overly pompous and meaningless…and I still have some of them too!

        Liked by 1 person

  7. This really was an epic review. I think I got carpal tunnel just moving down to read it.
    I respect your review and your position on the band.
    I remember my wife bought me this for my birthday back in the day because she liked it.
    I played it and thought it was not bad, but the band for me is a 90’s band that if I listened to now, I would think it sounds too 90’s and not enjoy. I will try to listen to them again though. I never slagged them or hated on them. I never fit them in the same mold as Nickelback, as the main thing that I detest the most about Nickelback is the lyrics. When a 40 yrar old creep is singing about being in the back seat of a car with a young girl, I’m out.
    Nickelback started out fine and then went into creep territory, and have never returned.
    As for Creed, my family and I went to see them live in Tampa at my wife’s insistance, and the show was pretty good. The place was packed and the fans were into it, so at least in their home state, they are still popular. It is too bad for the issues Scott Stapp has had to face, and I’m sure the negativity spewed towards the band hasn’t helped his situation.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks for the compliment! I try to give everyone carpel tunnel when I can.

      When did you go see them? Recently or back in the day? And I agree totally on Nickelback: taking yourself too seriously mainly becomes a problem when your lyrics are creepy. The reason AC/DC and Motley Crue are fun is because they’re cartoonish and revel in it.

      Liked by 1 person

  8. I hope nobody’s noticed that I posted 4 guest shots this week — a record!

    But I spent this week working up new content. I also got 4 new releases in the mail — 3 Japanese imports and one other rarity — so I will be reviewing those soon!

    Liked by 2 people

      1. Are these records that you bought?

        Early Japanese imports are GREAT for lyrics. They’re mistranslated. For example, my favourite from my old Japanese copy of Judas Priest – Unleashed in the East. From “Deliverin’ the Goods”, the real lyric is “Feelin’ like we’re ready to kick tonight.” The Japanese heard it as “Feelin’, Rock Queers, ready to kick tonight.”

        Liked by 1 person

        1. Some Phil Collins, Styx and a mix of soundtracks and stuff I don’t know. Mostly 80’s.

          Styx seems to be a band that often put out coloured vinyl. I got a bunch of theirs.

          I want a coloured vinyl, Japanese import Kilroy was Here with Japanese lyrics, and obi.

          “Domo Arigato, Mr. Roboto.
          Domo. Domo.”

          Like

  9. I enjoy a good devil’s advocate piece, well done!
    I think what turned me off about them was:
    1) It felt like he was doing a voice – maybe it was entirely genuine but if I can’t get past that feeling as a listener, I find it really distracting.
    2) I remember chatting with a friend at the time about a radio DJ saying”Creed’s got a new hit coming out.” It seemed odd that a single would be deemed a hit prior to release but also a low risk statement because whatever they released, seemed to be huge. Like you said, victim of their own success.
    I’d be interested in hearing a Creed tribute CD, see if having their songs with other vocalists & interpretations would make a difference.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. 1) I appreciate that you tuned in to the vibe I was trying to get across (if I were to start a blog, I would want to call it “Devil’s Advocate” because I hold quite a few unpopular opinions). The thing I’ve noticed (and will address in subsequent reviews of the band’s albums) is that Scott’s voice was often put through a filter, which made the yarling sound even more unnatural. He released a solo album in 2013 called Proof of Life in which he still yarls and uses his trademark accent, but it sounds MUCH more natural because it’s not overproduced. Stapp also said he was starting to have throat problems around 1998, so no doubt he was compensating by overdoing his voice.

      2) Also to be covered in a later review is how Creed was managed by Wind-Up: essentially, whereas a lot of record labels with big acts support the artists, WU only ever treated Creed like their golden ticket to fame and fortune. The band has said they had little control over the music videos or ancillary PR, like their image. Wind-Up just pushed whatever angle they thought would make them the most money, and it backfired in terms of the band’s reputation.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. Interesting to hear about the filter and the management, hadn’t understood what was happening behind the scenes at the time, And if ‘ragequit’ is now in the dictionary, surely ‘yarling’ is on its way!

        Like

  10. You know what? I kind of/sort of/maybe like Creed and I don’t care who knows it! They’re cheesy, but fun to listen to when you’re not even paying attention to what’s playing in the background. Any other time, though? I don’t know about that. Nice post!

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Very good and quite comprehensive review. Kudos on a great job. I have always found Creed to be …. well ….. Ill put it like this. They are “not my cup of tea;” .. or better put … Why did you put 18 sugars in my cup of tea. One sip and that was pretty much it for me. I did think the song “My Sacrifice” is pretty cool. Became familiar with the song because WWE did a snippet video using the song that they played umpteen times. Then I did a karaoke version of said song one night…. not an easy song to sing. Especially since there are parts where his voice gets softer in the high notes (Which is basically a direct opposite of my voice and most people’s voices). However I must admit that is the only song I have ever connected with from this band. However I really appreciate the time spent on .. and subsequent length of this review. Hey … someone had to do it ;)

    Like

Rock a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s