Album Review: Soul Asylum – Grave Dancers Union

Let’s go back a few years, shall we?

As you are likely aware, Soul Asylum’s platinum Grave Dancers Union produced four hits, “Somebody to Shove,” “Black Gold,” “Runaway Train,” and “Without a Trace.”

“Somebody to Shove” and “Without a Trace” are terrific songs, and it’s unfortunate that I haven’t heard either on the radio in ages–they were a blast on the airwaves back in the album’s heyday. “Runaway Train” is a great song, too, but it was so overplayed upon release that it may still send many listeners into a killing rage, lo these many years later. “Black Gold” isn’t a very good song, but some people like it–it even lent its name to Black Gold: The Best of Soul Asylum, which contains all four of these songs.

With the hits conveniently available elsewhere, is there any reason to acquire or revisit Grave Dancers Union? Not especially, but it could be fun–there are some enjoyable if not brilliant album tracks, such as “Keep It Up” and “April Fool,” that are worth a listen. There’s also, alas, some corniness, embodied by “New World.” Unfortunately, the album ends on a bum note with the execrable “The Sun Maid,” where Dave Pirner ruins a simple, pretty melody by being, at best, needlessly crude, or at worst, sneering and nasty. It’s a cold bucket of water on the head after a pretty good time. Though they had some great moments, consistency was not a Soul Asylum hallmark, and Grave Dancers Union is no exception.

Here’s a live version of “Without a Trace.” I would have much preferred to use the studio version, but Sony BMG, like my nemesis Universal Music, doesn’t want me to promote their bands. The studio version is here.


One Response to Album Review: Soul Asylum – Grave Dancers Union

  1. mattmck01 says:

    Yep. Got that one on cassette. I always liked the line from “Without A Trace”, “the right thing changes from state to state.”

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