Review Summary: A variated, and very good album from the criminally underrated grunge act Soul Asylum.Grave Dancers Union
is Soul Asylum
's seventh album. This album spent 76 weeks on the Billboard music charts and was certified double-platinum in 1993. "Why?", you ask? Let me tell you "why".
When people talk of Soul Asylum, you might've noticed that it's "Runaway Train" this, and "Runaway Train" that. On which album do you find this magnificent piece of music? Yep. You stand correct. It's track #3 on Grave Dancers Union
Lots of you who'll buy this album, will buy it only to get that very track. Will you be disappointed with the rest of the album? You just might. Apart from "The Sun Maid" and maybe "Homesick" and "Without A Trace", there's no other track that's as slow and calm as "Runaway Train" is. This album is in general way more punchy than that, but just as passionate. Tracks like "99%" and "April Fool" are likely to require a second listen, if you expected 12 "Runaway Train"s.
But is this a bad thing? Do we miss 11 more "Runaway Train"s?
No! We surely don't!
Don't get me wrong, I like "Runaway Train". It's one of the very best tracks on this album, in my opinion. But don't go and buy this - and complain about how awful the rest of the album is. 'Cause it really ain't that bad. It's just not quite what'cha expected. Dave Pirner demonstrates a broad repertoire, making this a very variated album - with many impressing songs. All the songs really stand out, and none of them sound alike. Not every track is equally good, but they all stand out. This makes this album have a little something for everyone. But it also, consequently, makes the album, as a whole, not being too appealing for everyone. Most people will find their favourites, and skip the rest of the tracks. Whilst some off you will actually enjoy the whole album, though you'll only be a small fraction of the buyers.
This album contains some very catchy, melodic and beautiful songs like "Black Gold", "Without A Trace", "Growing Into You", and... *sigh* "Runaway Train". It also contains some punchy material, though. To name examples, there's "99%" and "April Fool", as mentioned - and "Keep It Up", "Black Gold" as well.
Notice that I mentioned "Black Gold" both on the melodic, and the punchy list? Actually, I could mention nearly 10 of the tracks (excluding "The Sun Maid" and "Runaway Train") on both lists, with no amount of trouble. 'Cause although being very different, all the tracks have that melodic, catchy, punchy feel to them, that makes up the Soul Asylum sound. This is most evident on the brilliant masterpiece of a song that is "Somebody to Shove". This opening song really gets your hopes up. And, sadly, none of the other songs really are as good as this track.
It has its ups and it has its downs. Grave Dancers Union
makes an interesting listen nevertheless. I'd recommend this album to the open-minded rock fan. 'Cause that's what this essentially is. Rock'n roll. Guitars, bass and drums. Kind of ordinary, but still it has something special to it. Like most successful rock bands do. There's those melodic fine guitar-riffs. The variated drumming (there's two drummers playing ca. half of the album each). The creative bass lines. And perhaps most evident, the unique vocals. Dave Pirner has a unique set of pipes. It's that raspy vocals of his that makes Soul Asylum really recognizable, along with the melodic grunge sound.
So go buy the album, if you like grungy poppy rock'n roll, and also happen to appreciate ballads and those more edgier grunge tracks. Soul Asylum definitely is one of the most underestimated grunge bands, ever.
Somebody to Shove
Without a Trace