My Private Nation was the album where the metamorphosis of Train took place. But unfortunately it was in reverse…something like a butterfly turning into a caterpillar. Where you can actually listen to a good rock band change into a pop rock money chasing Matchbox 20 clone. For those of you that think that this band has been anything different than the band who does “Hey Soul Sister”, you need to go back and listen to the first 2 records from start to finish. As I have stated before in earlier posts, in my opinion Rob Hotchkiss was the heart and soul of this band and, I believe, served as their musical conscience.While recording My Private Nation, Rob quit the band, citing his disagreement with the musical direction of the band. The result of him leaving during recording is that it leaves the album sounding disjointed and schizophrenic…bouncing between a band that sounds different from track to track. Perhaps the tracking would have been better served by separating the songs written and recorded with Rob from the ones that were not. Then on the ensuing tour in support of this album, bassist Charlie Colin was dismissed, allegedly for drug use. Change was truly in the air.
The lead single and first track off of My Private Nation was “Calling All Angels”. It kicks off the album with the plea ….I need a sign to let me know you’re here…and with that one of Train’s classic song leads off it’s third record. This song is not only the strongest song on the album (both lyrically & musically) it is a pop rock classic…hands down. I challenge you to listen to this song and not be singing…I won’t give up, if you don’t give up…in your head the rest of the day. It gets you excited for the rest and you’re thinking this shit is going to be great….
Then “All American Girl” comes on. You sit there thinking….this is fucking Train? Little would you have known at the time that you were hearing what the band would turn into. But in retrospect that’s exactly what this song captures and it is the first you really hear of Pat’s rhyming for rhyming sake songwriting.. To be fair it is catchy hook driven pop song and it is one of the songs that Pat’s pop-centric rhyming lyrics work. But it is such a contrast to the Train sound you are used to hearing, especially when it is sandwiched between Angels and the beautiful ode to Pat Monahan’s mom “When I Look To The Sky”. Both “Save The Day” (Hey Baby..I don’t want to be you’re Superman, I just want to be your man & I’ll be super baby) and “Get To Me” are strong songs that carry the middle of the disc over weak filler. “Lincoln Avenue” is a hidden gem tucked on the backside of this record.
other Train on this blog: