Blind Melon (1992)
Thoughts Before Listening
I don’t know a lot about Blind Melon. I know that “No Rain” dropped like a bomb in ‘93, and all the people I knew that listened to Skynyrd and Dream On-era Aerosmith suddenly had this song in heavy rotation. The stoners and the hippie-chicks had a new king. And then… nothing. I know there’s a story of drug abuse, a meteoric rise to fame, and their unfortunate, all too predictable combination in the death of lead singer Shannon Hoon.
The other thing I know about Blind Melon is that my work-neighbour is a huge fan. From the moment I told him I’d be reviewing them as a One-Hit-Wonder, he’s been feverishly trying to convince me that they did not fall into this category. He’s been IM’ing me songs to listen to, loaned me their Letters from a Porcupine DVD and just generally been lobbying for their greatness. I’m afraid to admit to him that I haven’t listened to any of his recommended songs and I have yet to watch the DVD – I don’t want to colour my experience with this album. Once it has been listened to and notes have been taken, I’ll allow myself to enjoy the songs he’s been recommending. And now… I listen.
I don’t think I was really aware of Blind Melon until I was in university. I associate them with being played in the campus bar, dorm parties, and cast parties.
“No Rain” was a catchy tune, though I don’t know the words or what it’s about. If you’re just getting to know me, that’s kind of my thing so don’t read too much into that. I know I listened to them because they were grunge and that was what my group listened to, but I don’t have many memories of it.
I feel like I’m going to find at least one other song on there that I like.
Other Songs of Note
The icing on the cake
“Tones of Home” – 6 points
Scott (4 points)
Great (Pearl) jam. Seriously though, just a solid jam – a tight band playing extremely well together. The Sippin’ Time Sessions version rocks a bit harder.
Weh-Ming (2 points)
This is going to sound terrible, and it might be because my child interrupted me to talk about MineCraft, but I didn’t immediately realize this was a new song. I could hear this playing in the background of a party and saying “hey, remember Blind Melon?”. I liked the change up in the middle.
What we would put on our personal mixtapes
Scott (5 points)
As usual, I have few notes for my favourite track. I very much enjoyed it. I think this is the best his voice sounds on the album. I really enjoy what sounds like a stand-up bass – it adds something that makes this song stand out.
Upon repeated listening, I think I also just really like this chord progression. It’s either the same as Lorde’s “Solar Power” / Primal Scream’s “Loaded”, or close enough that my untrained ear can’t tell the difference. Either way, I like it.
I liked this song. It spoke to me. Just not enough that I wanted it to speak to me more often or for points to be awarded.
“Dear Ol’ Dad“
Scott (3 points)
This one lands on my list on the strength of the three guitars playing just after the one minute mark. It’s a very cool sound, with one clearly, yet subtly, isolated on each side, and then a third coming in center-soundstage. Good song with a great moment.
It’s super fast, I had to stop it to get the lyrics so I could understand what was going on. Which says something I think, since I actually wanted to know. But when I could understand it I didn’t like it as much, if that makes any sense.
Weh-Ming (3 points)
Why did I give this song 3 points? To be honest, I almost didn’t. I decided in the end that I could round up instead of down. There are just a lot of songs that are easy to listen to. OH GOD. Is this easy listening? Am I now the easy listening target demographic?
It’s not that I didn’t like this song – I did. By the time I hit this deep into the album, honestly the songs were 100% running together. “Holyman” didn’t do enough to differentiate itself from the pack.
Scott (2 points)
Whoah, the tempo slowed way down on this one – allowing it to stand out from the crowd. Very Pearl Jam Ten minus the gravitas. Nice subtle build. Play “Freebird”!
This started out like a campfire drinking song. Then they fooled me and changed it up. Then they fooled me again and changed it up again. It’s worth listening to, but it’s not on my list.
“Soak the Sin“
Scott (1 points)
Our first straight-up rock n’ roll album. This comes as a bit of a relief after listening to a lot of 90’s beats and bleep-bloops – here we’ve got drums, bass, dueling guitars and a singer. It feels older than ‘93, somehow, reminiscent of Dave Matthews Band (yet predating it). This song would be really fun live.
He kind of sounds like Axl Rose meets Blues Traveller. Oh, is Blues Traveller on our list? This doesn’t elicit waves of auditory delight for me, but I liked it.
Weh-Ming (1 points)
Another good song. I think being in an altered state of consciousness while listening might elicit some bigger thoughts and feelings, but I wasn’t ready to take that plunge.
I think this may have been my least favourite song on the album. It felt poorly mastered compared to the rest of the tracks, with all the sounds jammed into one big indistinct mess. The quieter passages give the instruments room to breathe, but it didn’t save the song for me.
What do you get when you mix Pearl Jam with Lynyrd Skynyrd? A pretty good album, that’s what. The west-coast grunge combined with the southern rock sensibilities works. The breakout hit “No Rain” is the real standout here, with nothing else really challenging it. I didn’t have a hard time filling five songs that I enjoyed, but I will say that their uptempo jams started to very much blend together in my mind as I made my way through the second half of the album.
I didn’t love the album, but it’s great. Great-ish. Great-adjacent. There’s nothing that I hate about it, but it’s not just forgettable after listening to it – it’s forgettable while you’re listening to it. “Is this the same song? Did I put it on repeat by accident? Oh, hey, it’s four songs later.”
It’s the Ikea of music: I’m not going to shop for everything I need at Ikea, but when I need a stylish shelf and a plate of meatballs it’s got exactly what I need. And then that stylish new shelf will just slide into the background of the room and once in a while someone will say “hey, that’s a nice shelf” and you’ll say “what?” and remember that you like it.
You could play this after a party when the people that you didn’t really know have all left and you can really just kick back and lean into the post-party winddown with your real friends, who you’re more interested in talking and reminiscing with than focusing on the music.
Yeah But What Else
Down the Rabbit Hole (Additional Listening brought to you by searches inspired by listening to this album.)
Blind Melon – “Toes Across the Floor” – My Blind Melon fan friend recommended this one. It’s good. Coming from Soup, their sophomore release, it’s less of a jam and more of a rock song.
Blind Melon – “Mouth Full of Cavities” – The second “You have to listen to this” song, recommended by my fan-friend. He wasn’t wrong. Despite the disturbing title, the song is really quite delightful sounding.
Guns N’ Roses – “Don’t Cry” – If you listen closely, you can hear Mr. Hoon singing backing vocals for Axel. He was even in the video!
Pearl Jam – “Alive” – Because it sounds like Blind Melon with the Southern Rock removed! Perhaps uncoincidentally, Rick Parashar produced Ten for Pearl Jam and Blind Melon (not to mention Alice in Chains and Temple of the Dog of the era). The sound signature similarity isn’t by accident.
Lynyrd Skynyrd – “Simple Man” – Because it sounds like Blind Melon with the Pearl Jam removed. It’s better than “Free Bird” or “Sweet Home Alabama”. Fight me.
“Weird Al” never did a parody of Blind Melon, though I’m not sure why. For some reason, he used the Bee Girl from Blind Melon’s video in his video for “Bedrock Anthem” from Alapalooza (1993), which was a parody of Red Hot Chili Peppers. Possibly it was due to the timing – back to back albums in ‘92 and ‘93 and touring in ‘92 and ‘94 probably got in the way.