CD Review: Creed - With Arms Wide Open: A Retrospective

Three-CD retrospective focuses on hits, rarities and live cuts.
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Creed came on the rock scene during the post grunge movement of the late 1990s and quickly became one of the biggest bands in the world. The band released four albums, selling over 40 million records worldwide with one of them, Human Clay, achieving Diamond status for having sold 10 million copies. These are numbers that no one, save for maybe Adele and a few others, achieves anymore. The band's success wasn't just commercially either. They won a Grammy Award for Best Rock Song for "With Arms Wide Open" and were the first group to have seven straight #1 rock radio singles. The band had a good ten-year run that most bands can only dream of.

Released as a Wal-Mart exclusive, Creed - With Arms Wide Open: A Retrospective is a three-CD set that celebrates the group many accomplishments. While the group previously released a greatest hits album in 2004, its scope was not nearly as wide. This compilation covers not only the hits, but also rarities, B-Sides, soundtrack songs and live acoustic performances, making it an ideal starting place for fans of the group.

Disc one covers the band's singles. The disc opens with the laid back groove of "My Own Prison," a track that builds in intensity as it goes. It is worth nothing that this is the radio edit of the track, as are the majority of the tracks on disc one. "Higher" is one of the anthems of the post grunge period, alternating between quiet verses and heavy choruses, using the formula Nirvana used so successfully before them. "With Arms Wide Open" is the strings version of the radio mix. The strings add an air of sophistication to this power ballad written about singer Scott Stapp unexpectedly becoming a father. Other highlights include the melodic hard rock of "My Sacrifice" and the breezy, pop mix of "Rain."

Disc two focuses on rarities and demos and includes a straightforward cover of Alice Cooper's "I'm Eighteen" and a cover of "Riders On The Storm" where guitarist Mark Tremonti imitates Ray Manzarek's signature piano licks on guitar. Also included are three previously unreleased demos, including the moody ballad "Blistered" and the heavy, yet melodic "More Than This." These are songs that could have easily fit in during the band's peak period.

Disc three features acoustic versions of the band's songs, some live and some in the studio. "With Arms Wide Open" in particular benefits from this treatment as the acoustic guitars and strings help to elevate the song. The live acoustic rendition of "Higher" puts the focus on Stapp's strong vocals and shows the group's strength as not only a studio band, but also as a live act.

Creed went on hiatus sometime in 2013 with work on a fifth studio album only partially completed. Stapp and Tremonti have maintained that it is possible they could reconvene at some point, but with both members concentrating on solo projects, that doesn't seem to be any time soon. In the interim, Creed - With Arms Wide Open: A Retrospective is a good mix of hits, rarities and live cuts from this post grunge powerhouse.