If nothing else, Collective Soul–riding high on the hit single “Shine”–has contributed to society the makings of a debate about what in the heck the phrase “alternative rock” means. My definition: relatively personal music that is made with passing-or-less concern for commercial demands. In the nearly three years since the release of Nevermind, it’s true that novelty and evanescence have become the order of the day in pop rock, with, predictably, the accompanying corps of poseurs and flukes. Those outraged by such developments should remember that until very recently our problems were calcification and exclusion. Even in this context, however, Collective Soul presents some interesting analytical problems. It’s a southern boogie band, no less, right out of 1975, with an appropriately lame set of song subjects. (“Woke up to a new morning / Got my babe by my side,” is a typical mot.) Leader Ed Roland, journeyman rocker, put a demo record together; on the strength of the nicely textured guitars and competent hookmeistering of “Shine,” it got picked up by radio and became a minor phenom. Grabbed by Atlantic and marketed as alternative, the album’s heading for platinum. Now, I don’t have a whole lot of patience for the indie world’s penchant for drawing lines in the sand, and it doesn’t really matter anyway ’cause Roland’s going to be a footnote by this time next year. But Collective Soul’s about as alternative as Grand Funk. What does the record’s success on alternative radio mean? The beginning of the end? Perhaps. On the other hand, who are we to say that when Roland warbles lines like “We can’t see eye to eye / While our tongues are tied,” he’s not expressing something as deeply felt as anything penned by Kurt Cobain? Schmoes got feelings too. Wednesday, 7 PM, Metro, 3730 N. Clark; 549-0203.

Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): photo/Mario Castellanos.