I gave the Col another try this morning. After a practice run last night, I realized my lather was too hydrated; to fix this I made sure my brush was shaken as free of water as possible, and the lathering bowl was empty and dry. I got a really good lather going pretty quickly, but it was still a little to "wet" when I first applied it. I hit the soap again for about 20 - 30 seconds, then back to the lathering bowl, and then my face.
The difference was night and day.
The lather was thick (whereas before it was thin and very bubbly - a sign of over hydration), slick, and of course, smelled great.
The shave took me longer than usual, and I had to make three passes total. That surprised me since I had shaved the day before, and growth was minimal.
Overall I think I was right for not giving up on the good Colonel. It might be a bit much for someone just starting out, but once you learn how to lather its a great product.