THE BAND: Sully Erna (vocals, bongos, harmonica, guitar, drums), Tony Rombola (guitars), Robbie Merrill (bass), Shannon Larkin (drums on “Faceless”, “IV”, “The Other Side”), Tommy Stewart (drums on “Godsmack” and “Awake”). Band origin – Boston, MA.
THE DISC: (2007) 16 tracks clocking in at approximately 65 minutes. Included with the disc is a 22-page booklet containing song titles/credits/times, a brief paragraph about each song, numerous photos and newspaper/magazine clippings, and thank you’s. Also included with the music disc is a DVD – a 12 song semi-acoustic set performed in 2004 from the House Of Blues in Las Vegas – running time approximately 63 minutes. Label – Universal Republic Records.
ALBUM REPRESENTATION: Godsmack (4 songs), Awake (2), Faceless (4), IV (3), The Other Side – EP (2), Unreleased (1).
COMMENTS: Fans of Godsmack should eat this release up. 16 deserving hard rocking songs, plus an amazing DVD. Godsmack has always been fairly consistent… they’ve used the same formula for their songs pretty much throughout their 10 year career… except for their “The Other Side” where they slowed down some of the classic tunes and did them in an unplugged acoustic style. I never thought of Godsmack as a “hit machine”, but the liner notes indicate they have ten Top 5 songs (three of those being #1). Very few compilations are perfect, but this one comes extremely close. For me, the music disc accompanied with the DVD makes this a must have for their fans. THE GOOD: The staples are here in chronological order – “Whatever”, “Keep Away”, “Voodoo”, “Awake”, “Greed”, “I Stand Alone”, “Straight Out of Line”, “Serenity”, “Realign”, “Running Blind”, “Speak”, etc. The unreleased track – a remake of Led Zeppelin’s “Good Times, Bad Times” is a good rocking Godsmackified representation of the original. The sound is crisp, yet there is no indication on the disc or in the notes regarding any kind of remastering. The liner notes are extensive – a 2-page intro; dozens of band pictures; chart success of songs; and a collage of newspaper clips old and new. The DVD is a high quality recording shot in 5.1 surround sound, reminiscent of Alice In Chains’ “MTV Unplugged” (1996) show. The House Of Blues is an intimate setting. The show was beautifully captured and edited – and the frame rate is perfect (as some music videos move headache fast)… for the most part it’s an acoustic set with the band sitting on stools and fairly reserved. Sully stops the show twice for a brief Q&A with the audience (a nice touch). The highlights of the DVD being “Running Blind”, “Keep Away”, “Serenity”, a cover of the classic “Reefer Head Woman” with guest performers Lee Richards and John Kosco, and “Voodoo”… along with Merrill’s short bass solo, and drummer Larkin’s duel with Sully’s bongos. Larkin proves to be an accomplished drummer and comes off like an octopus behind the kit – his long arms were all over the place… often times up and over his head while keeping a steady beat. THE NOT SO GOOD: Only two minor things really. I found a few songs missing on the music disc – the opening track to my favorite album of theirs (“self titled”) “Moon Baby”, “Time Bomb”, and two of my favorites from “Awake” (“Sick Of Life” and “Bad Magick”). I was disappointed to see that only two studio tracks made this record from “Awake”. The only other thing wrong here is you get the edited version of “Voodoo” (originally 9 minutes, you get the radio friendly 4.5 minute version here). Time is always a factor with putting a disc together, but I felt with approximately 15 minutes of unused space on this release… “Voodoo” could have been unedited and perhaps a few other songs included. OVERALL: A great package. Great to have so many hard rocking Godsmack tunes all in one place. The DVD is a true bonus. If you’re sitting on the fence about whether or not to purchase because you all ready have the individual albums… buy it for the DVD concert and consider the music disc the bonus (5 stars).