Classic Album Review: Creed, ‘My Own Prison’


Creed band promo image

Creed – Story by Anne Erickson, photo by Chuck Brueckmann

What was the impact of Creed’s “My Own Prison” on the rock music of the late 1990s? Here’s our classic review of the album

Creed is back. Yes, it’s 2023. You’re not flashing back to the late 1990s or early 2000s. Creed recently announced a full-fledged reunion tour, which will take the guys throughout North America during the summer of 2024. So, in honor of the reunion of these post-grunge mainstays, I’m doing a classic album review of Creed, “My Own Prison.” What was the impact of Creed’s “My Own Prison” on rock music in the late-1990s? What made “My Own Prison” such a groundbreaking record? What made the first Creed album so special?

To fully understand the impact of Creed’s “My Own Prison,” one has to look at the time this record arrived. “My Own Prison” arrived on Aug. 26, 1997, via Wind-Up Records. This was about four years after Kurt Cobain’s death and the end of the Seattle scene and grunge, in its purest form. The so-called post-grunge movement was starting to take shape, but it wouldn’t really fully blossom until the early 2000s with bands such as Seether and Shinedown.

At the time, everything on the radio seemed like grunge, alternative-pop or jangle-pop. It was a strange time for rock radio. The bands that ruled the airwaves in 1997 were Third Eye Blind, Sugar Ray, Smash Mouth, The Verve, Days of the New and Our Lady Peace, to name a few. Some of these bands weren’t even really “rock,” but they got played on rock stations, regardless.

Then, Creed released “My Own Prison.” This album totally changed the sound of rock radio. Sure, there were comparisons to Eddie Vedder and Pearl Jam, but I personally never heard them. If you listen to the music of Creed, it was very different from the grunge of Pearl Jam.

What Creed introduced was anthemic rock. They really created a whole new sound with their huge guitars, sweeping choruses and lead vocalist Scott Stapp’s powerful vocals.

Something Creed brought back into vogue was the lead guitarist. Mark Tremonti remains one of the best skilled and talented guitarists in rock and metal music. During the 1990s, the lead guitarist was dead. Grunge bands didn’t have guitar solos, instead opting for laid-back, messy guitar chords. Nobody wanted to hear a guitar solo anymore. It was just too overdone in the 1980s with hair metal.

But, then Creed entered the sphere. Tremonti’s guitar parts and solos were incredible and somehow not too over the top, which helped bring the guitar solo into the 1990s.

The album’s title track was the lead single from the record. It actually was first included on the WXSR-FM compilation album called “Locals Only” and ended up really breaking the band. This unknown rock band from Florida reached No. 2 on the Billboard Mainstream Rock Tracks chart and No. 7 on the Modern Rock Tracks chart.

The charm of “My Own Prison” was the album’s rawness. Mark Tremonti has previously told Audio Ink Radio that we was surprised the record label didn’t have them re-record the album. But, the album’s rawness appealed to fans of grunge, while the record’s anthemic-sounding rock crossed over to fans of metal.

Stapp’s lyrics on “My Own Prison” were another major reason for the album’s success. Stapp’s lyrics were deeply personal, dark and introspective, and it fit the musical climate of the time. “Screams fill the room, alone I drop and kneel,” he sings in the title track.

Is Creed a Christian band? That’s a question that came up a lot during the band’s reign. The answer wasn’t straight-forward. Scott was raised in a faith-filled household, but like many, he struggled with questions of faith. Moreover, most of the members of Creed were believers, but that wasn’t really what their music was about.

Aside from “My Own Prison,” the album also scored rock hits in “What’s This Life For” and “One.” The guys went from small club shows to selling out arena-sized venues. Of course, the album “My Own Prison” also set Creed up for what would be an even bigger mainstream success with their sophomore release, 1999’s “Human Clay,” which spawned the chart-toppers “With Arms Wide Open” and “Higher.”

Find Creed’s upcoming tour dates here and via their official website.

Anne Erickson
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Posted by Anne Erickson | Features, Music, Reviews, Rock