During their thirteen-year existence, Creed was one of the biggest bands in rock, their albums selling millions and playing multiple huge tours constantly full of adoring masses. With the vinyl reissue of this, their debut, it’s a good time to look back to see how the four-piece from Florida grew from being high school classmates to the all-conquering behemoth they became. It’s true that, like Nickelback after them, the band split opinions when viewed in retrospect and this was primarily due to singer Scott Stapp’s later antics but certainly this nascent recording shows the quartet at their early angst-ridden best.
Whilst Stapp’s, at times anguished, vocals were somewhat of an acquired taste that caught the zeitgeist of every disaffected teenager in America, the power of Mark Tremonti’s guitar, the bass of Brian Marshall and Scott Phillips drums were universally acknowledged. The twisting intro that morphs into the blisteringly heavy section of ‘Torn’ is a fine example of the sound that Creed made their name on as it powerfully mixes big emotion and heavyweight punch. Things are a little less intense on the arena rock of ‘Ode’, the heart, soul and grit are there but dialled down just a little.
This ability to switch from the personal to the global was another big factor in their success, the universal themes that could be pondered by a seventeen-year-old in their bedroom or sung by fifteen thousand people in an arena. With the tormented title track through to the club-filling rocker ‘Pity for a Dime’ and the grinding ‘In America’, ‘My Own Prison’ was a showcase for a band who had sky-scraping ambitions and the chops to back that up. Just one listen to Tremonti’s fiery fretwork on ‘Illusion’ is enough to convince that here is a band to be reckoned with, the piledriving yet nuanced rhythm section of Marshall and Phillips in ‘Unforgiven’ driving that point home, if proof was needed.
There’s certainly light and shade here, the lyrical and rolling ‘Sister’ bringing a different twist and a dramatic ‘What’s This Life For’ is full of chiming guitars and heroism, feelings at straining point. Ending with a bang with the musical maelstrom that is ‘One’, the album packs a lot into its fifty-minute run time and whilst somewhat in thrall tonally to the Grunge scene a decade before, the band certainly made their mark. What was to follow is now rock history, the wild success, the spiralling egos, rock ‘n’ roll excesses and an eventual split that led to the formation of Alter Bridge, heralding a brilliant new chapter. For those new to Creed, and having wanted to dig deeper into the roots of A.B., ‘My Own Prison’ is the perfect place to start and for others who like their hard rock loud, heavy and full of cinematic passion there’s a lot to explore here too. The first steps to greatness were made here.
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Review: Paul Monkhouse
My Own Prison tracklist (Vinyl):
A3. My Own Prison
A4. Pity For A Dime
A5. In America
B4. What’s This Life For
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