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16 Years Ago: Foo Fighters’ ‘The Colour and the Shape’ Album Released

Foo Fighters Colour and the Shape
Roswell Records

In many ways, Foo Fighters’ second album, ‘The Colour and the Shape,’ is really their first. Or at least their first as a real band. Dave Grohl made the group’s 1995 self-titled debut as a solo project — basically demos recorded by himself in a Seattle studio with a producer in less than a week. Grohl played all of the instruments (except for one guitar part) and dug up a handful of old songs he had written when he was in Nirvana. The new songs he wrote tried to come to terms with Kurt Cobain’s death. Foo Fighters weren’t supposed to be the next chapter in Grohl’s career, but they turned out that way.

After ‘Foo Fighters’ became a hit, Grohl hired a band, went on tour and settled into his new group. And they began recording Grohl’s latest batch of songs, most of them dealing with his recent divorce, with producer Gil Norton, who had worked with the Pixies. But Grohl quickly took control of the sessions, going as far as rerecording all the drum parts himself after hearing the original drummer’s inadequate performance.

Despite the tumultuous sessions, ‘The Colour and the Shape’ (which celebrates its 16th anniversary today) turned out to be heavier, more focused and an all-around better album than the Foo Fighters’ debut. Songs like ‘Monkey Wrench,’ ‘My Hero,’ ‘Everlong’ and ‘Walking After You’ tear apart Grohl’s crumbling marriage with an emotional gust that’s as cathartic as it is regretful. And the band, the sound of a real band, gives the record, and Grohl, a solid foundation on which to build.

‘The Colour and the Shape’ became the band’s first Top 10 album and its biggest seller, eventually selling more than two million copies. Three of its songs reached the modern-rock Top 10; ‘Everlong’ almost even cracked the Top 40 — a rarity in 1997, when rock was on its way out with mainstream music fans. Since its release, ‘The Colour and the Shape’ has become the pinnacle of the Foo Fighters’ career and a record that grows in stature with each passing year. It not only contains the group’s best songs. It’s also a modern-rock milestone.

Listen to Foo Fighters’ ‘The Colour and the Shape’

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