Nickelback: Original Album Series

How you remind me: five massive hits from the band people just love to hate.

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The broad consensus on Nickelback’s leader Chad Kroeger is that, first, he’s a dick; and second, his band sucks. On both counts, the consensus is wrong. If Kroeger were such a numpty he wouldn’t have responded as he did when protest campaign #DontletNickelback attempted a kind of anti-crowdfunding coup to prevent the band from playing in London. “If these critics had stopped writing all this stuff about us,” Kroeger laughed, “there would be no controversy left in the band and we probably would have died out years ago.”

Moreover, Nickelback aren’t the worst band in the world. Not the best, either, but their success, with 50 million albums sold worldwide, is no fluke. It’s happened because Chad Kroeger can write a tune, and the band can put on a show.

This new box set includes the five Nickelback albums released between 2001 and 2011: the biggies. Omitted are their first two records – Curb and The State, which sold jack shit – and current album No Fixed Address.

2001’s Silver Side Up was their big breakthrough, achieved via the monster hit How You Remind Me, the song for which Kroeger and Nickelback will always be remembered, defining their radio-friendly post-grunge sound. The album remains their best, and its opening track Never Again is their most powerful song, with the heavy groove of Metallica circa Load, and an equally heavy lyric addressing domestic violence.

It was the start of a golden run that made these Canadians the biggest-selling rock band in the whole of North America in that decade. The Long Road (2003) had two huge anthems in Someday and Feelin’ Way Too Damn Good. All The Right Reasons (2005) yielded seven singles, including one of Kroeger’s very best songs, Photograph, and the tongue-in-cheek Rockstar.

For the 2008 album Dark Horse they brought in legendary producer Mutt Lange (AC/DC, Def Leppard), although the sound of the band barely changed. And with Here And Now in 2011, it was business as usual.

Across these albums are a few great songs. Many of the others are so workmanlike that Kroeger could have worn a donkey jacket while recording them. But in the end, for all the shit that has been thrown his way, Chad Kroeger has had the last laugh./o:p

Paul Elliott

Freelance writer for Classic Rock since 2005, Paul Elliott has worked for leading music titles since 1985, including Sounds, Kerrang!, MOJO and Q. He is the author of several books including the first biography of Guns N’ Roses and the autobiography of bodyguard-to-the-stars Danny Francis. He has written liner notes for classic album reissues by artists such as Def Leppard, Thin Lizzy and Kiss, and currently works as content editor for Total Guitar. He lives in Bath - of which David Coverdale recently said: “How very Roman of you!”