Album Reviews

Creed

With Arms Wide Open: A Retrospective

Artist:     Creed

Album:     With Arms Wide Open: A Retrospective

Label:     The Bicycle Music Company

Release Date:     01/08/2016

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Creed was never a band for everyone. Despite selling millions of records in the late ‘90s and early ‘00s, the group also had its fair share of detractors. And even today, many critics lump the band alongside fellow post-grunge rockers Nickelback on lists of the most derided groups in recent memory.

But for those who followed Scott Stapp and company in their heyday, or for those just wanting to see what all the fuss is about, the band has finally released a career-spanning, three-CD, 40 song compilation featuring radio hits, live tracks, rarities and more.

Disc one is all about the singles. “My Own Prison,” “One” and “Higher,” all included as radio edits, all sport Stapp’s signature baritone vocals and Mark Tremonti’s arena-ready guitar sound, while a new version of the band’s Grammy winning “With Arms Wide Open” is featured with an added string arrangement to further tug at the heart strings of first-time fathers everywhere.

Disc two shifts the focus to Creed’s soundtrack work and lesser known material. Film contributions like “To Whom It May Concern” and “Is This the End,” rock ably enough, but pale in comparison to the group’s bruising cover selections. A run-through of Alice Cooper’s “I’m Eighteen” is a particular highlight, as are takes on The Doors’ “Riders on the Storm” and “Roadhouse Blues,” the latter of which is included as a live cut from Woodstock ’99, featuring Robby Krieger on guitar.

Disc three is dubbed the acoustic disc, and highlights stripped down versions of most of the band’s singles. “With Arms Wide Open” shows up twice, once as a live cut. And “Don’t Stop Dancing,” featuring Stapp’s sister Aimee on backing vocals, is included under the listing “Acoustic Version #3,” begging the question of what kept the first two takes in the vaults.

The answer to that last question may be connected to Stapp’s continuing desire for Creed to reunite full-time. This compilation marks the first release from the band since its fourth album, Full Circle, in 2009, but various interpersonal issues, as well as the continued success of Tremonti, bassist Brian Marshall and drummer Scott Phillips’ other group Alter Bridge might delay any future reconciliation.

Never say never. For a group that once ruled modern rock radio, the temptation to relive the glory days will always exist. And for those willing to dive into this “retrospective,” ample reasons might be found to wish for a reunion. Unless you hate Nickelback too. Nothing here will win any new converts.

– Michael Cimaomo

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