Legendary rock band Foo Fighters performed in front of more than 75,000 fans at the famous Wembley Stadium in London on September 3. This was a part of a tribute concert for their recently deceased bandmate, Taylor Hawkins.
Before the star-studded openers, the big-name venues and the crowds of thousands chanting the Foo Fighters’ lyrics, there was one album, The Colour and the Shape, that launched the career of one of the most beloved rock bands of all time.
This year marks the 25-year-anniversary of the album, so what better time to take a look back on what is undoubtedly the Foo Fighters’ best album to date, due to its hard rock style, its commercial success, and its creative and diverse track list.
The Colour and the Shape was released on May 20, 1997, as the follow-up to the self-titled demo tape recorded by frontman Dave Grohl two years prior. The double platinum album saw the addition of bass player Nate Mendel, guitarist Pat Smear and drummer William Goldsmith, who would soon be replaced by Taylor Hawkins.
One thing the album achieved better than any before or after, was giving the Foo Fighters their distinctive sound. With a full band at his disposal, Grohl was able to do what he does best, which is just flat out rock.
Tracks such as “My Hero“, “Monkey Wrench” and the cult classic “Everlong” blew audiences away with their infectious charm, all hidden behind the crunchy distorted guitar riffs and machine gun firing drum fills.
Pop and alternative influences would have to wait for later albums such as In Your Honor and Wasting Light. What the album lacks in originality, it more than makes up for in classic 1990s face-melting hard rock bliss, a decade-defining sound the band was never able to encapsulate the same way again.
The aforementioned tracks all landed in the Top 10 on rock radio charts in the United States, which helped the album chart in the Top 10 on Billboard 100, as well as number three in the U.K. – The Foo Fighters would never see more commercial success than with The Colour and the Shape.
To this day, despite seven more studio albums with countless memorable tracks, the 1997 album remains the band’s biggest-selling album, according to Billboard: a testament to the album’s long-lasting greatness.
Sitting at a tracklist of 13, not every song on the album is bound to blow the listener away. Despite running the risk of being seen as a one-trick pony, the album channels its energy from the rock-solid instrumentals throughout. Grohl’s added charismatic storytelling boosts the listener up, without letting them float too far away.
Dealing with topics such as relationships (see “Everlong” and “Monkey Wrench“), childhood memories (“Hey, Johnny Park!“), callbacks to Nirvana (“February Stars“) and even obscure media (“Enough Space“), the classic album takes on different forms of expression as it progresses: a skill it does better than any Foo Fighters’ album since.
The Colour and the Shape is a treasure. a relic from the past that has edged its place in time, a collection of pure passion and energy of gluttonous proportions: an album that is one of the greatest of its era, let alone in the band’s discography. The words from the immortal eleventh track “Everlong” echo the thoughts of avid Foo Fighter fans and first-time listeners alike, many years later.
“The only thing I’ll ever ask of you, you’ve gotta promise not to stop when I say when.”