In the modern era of Rock-n-Roll, few bands have been able to accomplish what Shinedown has. Examining the obvious, Shinedown holds the record for the most mainstream rock number ones in Billboard history. Yes, that is right, Shinedown is actually the most successful radio Rock band of all-time. An astounding statistic, and an achievement that could overwhelm anyone, beyond this, Shinedown’s accomplishments are arguably far greater.
Sure, mainstream success is a wonderful thing for a band that has worked for as long and as hard as Shinedown, but their true weight in gold is the music itself. A band who can rock hard and heavy, but also appeal to the broader audience with more mellow tunes, the biggest attribute of it all has always seemed be their ability to provoke thought. Introspective and more than skin deep, Shinedown offers songs that invite listeners to reflect on themselves, on the world surrounding them, and entice them to find their own resolution in the paradox we call life.
Certainly, a combined effort of the Shinedown as a collective – Vocalist Brent Smith, Drummer Barry Kerch, Guitarist Zach Myers, and Bassist Eric Bass – the other open secret to Shinedown’s success are their impossible to forget live performances. A staple factor in who they are for the past twenty plus years, in short, their live performances are inspired, energized, and always leave you feeling alive as you head for the exits. Not an easy task to carry out night after night on tour, the x-factor has to be Smith’s command of the audience. A powerful voice in many ways, Smith not only demands your attention with his performance, but also puts steel in your spine with articulate conversation throughout each set. Human, real, and sincere, Smith has done everything from run through the crowd as sweat pours down, to letting you in on his most personal experiences in a stripped-down acoustic show.
Something that all fans can agree is like no other, amazingly, Shinedown has only released one proper live album to date. Doing so back in 2011 with Somewhere in the Stratosphere, the live record includes two full recordings of the Live from Washington State performance from the Carnival of Madness Tour, plus the Kansas City performance from the Anything and Everything Acoustic Tour. With this, you get a full-on electric set, but also the much beloved acoustic one. Initially put out as a 2CD/2DVD package, the album debuted at #83 on the U.S. Billboard 200, peaked at 21, and has since gone gold.
Impressive success for a live record during any era, it remains to this day a go to for fans… even nearly thirteen years later. However, it was never released onto vinyl. Very interesting, considering much of Shinedown’s material was in fact put out on vinyl through the years, thankfully in 2023 the band decided to at last press it to wax. Doing so just in time for the holiday season, the release became available via Shinedown’s official store back on December 8th.
As stated, the first ever pressing of Somewhere in the Stratosphere to vinyl, as with anything, Shinedown does not just do it halfway. This being said, the limited-edition vinyl edition is a stunning red, black, and beige splattered 4LP set. No doubt carefully planned to match the color scheme of the album’s original cover, it is undeniably appealing to the eyes. Beyond this, the sound quality is rich, crisp, and fitting for a home listening experience. An aspect that is thanks to the original mastering of the live recordings, the pressing to thicker gram vinyl also helps significantly.
Not acting as a replacement for your CD/DVD set, but more as a supplement to it, this special release of Somewhere in the Stratosphere is a must have for Shinedown fans. And if you are curious what else is going on in the world of Shinedown, bringing you up to snuff, in late 2023 they released The Library Sessions. Something inspired by their most recent hit single “A Symptom Of Being Human,” The Library Sessions features stripped-down, acoustic performances of “A Symptom Of Being Human” and “GET UP,” but also the band reading real fan stories that were submitted to the Symptom Library. Pretty intense, the stories are real and remind us that we are all human. The best part of it all is the special event was a fundraising benefit for the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (AFSP). For those who missed it, you can check it out on YouTube, or go directly to library.shinedown.com to read, or submit your own story. Furthermore, now in 2024, Shinedown yet again landed a number one single on Active Rock radio with “A Symptom Of Being Human.” All spreading hope, positivity, and Rock-n-Roll, what can anyone possibly dislike? So, be sure to remember our human connections, but also do not miss a chance to own Somewhere in the Stratosphere on vinyl, because Cryptic Rock gives it 5 out of 5 stars.