Sometimes, an album is just perfect. Nothing needs to be added or taken away. It is simply right the first time.
The Foo Fighters got it right the first time when they released The Colour and the Shape in 1997 At 47 minutes, it was already a bit longer than the average album, but what a towering 47 minutes they are! There is a reason that The Colour and the Shape is consistently the album that all others are compared to. It’s that one magical, flawless album that can never be equalled no matter what Dave Grohl & Co. come up with next.
The Colour and the Shape was a product of its time and all the things Grohl was going through. The drummer (William Goldsmith) was fired mid-way and Dave re-recorded all the drums himself, bar two ballads. Maybe that’s one reason that the album is so special. When Dave plays the drums, the energy level goes through the roof and comes out the speakers. That’s what happens on “Monkey Wrench”, “My Hero”, “Everlong”, “New Way Home” and “Hey, Johnny Park!”, five of the most exciting tracks. The energy simply cannot contained. The Law of Conservation of Energy dictates that it all comes out of your body as you rock to this album!
Of one were to give a negative critique to any of this album, it might be Grohl’s screaming on “My Poor Brain” and “Enough Space” among others. It is true: Grohl chips the paint with his voice from time to time. This works though, as an appropriate contrast to the soft melodies of “Walking After You” and “February Stars”. The album is well rounded. It joyfully careens from those heavy blasts, to quiet acoustic bits of pop glory.
The Colour and the Shape has the songs, it has the riffs, and mindblowing drums. It has the vibe, and it reeks of passion. Whatever Grohl was going through at this time, it ended up in the music. The production by Gil Norton is a bright contrast to the lo-fi of the debut album Foo Fighters. It simply cannot be improved upon. Even the lyrics go full circle. Listen to “Doll” and “New Way Home” and see if you catch it.
When Sony Legacy added seven bonus tracks, it beefed the album up to well over an hour. If you listen to the CD as a whole, it completely changes the listening experience, and not in a good way. It’s Coke vs. New Coke. Adding essentially a third side of B-sides doesn’t make it better. It would be advised to collect the original Foo Fighters singles from which these tracks were taken. And if you do, you’ll get more songs that weren’t included on the Sony Legacy, such as live and acoustic versions. Of the bonus tracks, the Gary Numan cover “Down in the Park” is particularly exceptional. The new liner notes by bassist Nate Mendel are quite cool.
The Colour and the Shape is one of the best albums of 1997, if not the very best of that year. It’s tough to beat and adding bonus tracks didn’t do the trick. Therefore, The Colour and the Shape gets two ratings:
Original 1997 CD: 5/5 stars
Sony Legacy 2007 CD: 4/5 stars