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Non-Prog CD Reviews

Blind Melon

For My Friends

Review by Gary Hill

I’ve always liked Blind Melon. I was never a huge fanboy or anything, but I found them to be quite a cool band in their first coming. For those who don’t remember, the group broke up when their lead singer Shannon Hoon died in 1995. The group had only released two albums by that point in time.

Now they have reunited. Original members Rogers Stevens, Christopher Thorn, Brad Smith, and Glen Graham are joined by new vocalist Travis Warren. Warren at times sounds like a dead ringer for Hoon. At other times he calls to mind Perry Farrell. The music on the CD seems pretty firmly based in the same blend of classic rock and more modern alternative sounds that the group always created. They perhaps stretch a bit more here, but overall have produced an album that should feel like home for their fans. Those who might think that it’s a slap to Hoon to replace him, the new lineup and CD have the nod of approval from Hoon’s mother.

Make no mistake – Shannon Hoon’s death was a tragedy. He was an exceptionally gifted and unique person. The album is dedicated to him with an “Always With Us” inscription. He can never truly be replaced, but Travis Warren does a great job of filling the hole he left in Blind Melon. It’s great to have this band back. They were always one of the best of the 1990’s groups and have been sorely missed. In some ways this disc makes it feel like they never left.

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2008  Volume 3 at lulu.com/strangesound.

Track by Track Review
For My Friends
They start it off a bit bluesy and then move into a more traditional Blind Melon style. As the vocals enter you’d swear (at least if you are a casual fan like myself) that Shannon Hoon is still alive and singing on the CD. This is a cool tune and a great way to start things in familiar territory. Laughter ends it.
With the Right Set of Eyes
This joins with a more rocking sound. They bring it up gradually with a wahing, psychedelic sound. As they take it to the song proper this is worked out into a killer classic rock meets Blind Melon motif. There are some great retro touches on this and the whole thing just works like a well-oiled machine. This is turned into a powerhouse musical journey with more and more layers added to the mix.
Wishing Well
The progression on this reminds me a bit of “All Along the Watchtower.” What we have in terms of music is hard rocking sounds that feel quite retro and yet fresh at the same time. The guitar work here is especially tasty. The acoustic based closing section is cool, too.
Sometimes
This one doesn’t differ a lot from what we’ve heard so far, but it’s another tasty slab of classic Blind Melon. We get a cool little lyrical nod to “You’re So Vain,” on this one in a classic musical allusion.
Tumblin Down
With its blend of 1960’s styled rock and classic Blind Melon music, this is another winner on a disc with no weak tracks.
Down on the Pharmacy
They pound in here and then drop it down to a bluesy grind that’s quite tasty. They power it back up and then alternate between these sounds. I hear some Led Zeppelin on this, but also some Guns N Roses. It’s another great tune.
Make A Difference
This pounds in heavier, feeling a bit like Led Zeppelin melded with Black Sabbath.  It shifts out to more a typical Blind Melon sound as they work into the song proper. I like this one a lot. It’s one of my favorites.

Harmful Belly
We get another hard edged rocker here. This doesn’t break any molds, but on the other hand, it’s one of the tastiest pieces on show.
Last Laugh
This is mellower than some of the other material on the disc. It comes across as more of an energized ballad.
Hypnotize
There’s a bit of a strange feel to parts of this song. On the other hand, in general it’s a classic rock grind that seems familiar and quite accessible. I’m not sure that this is necessarily one of my favorites, but it holds up quite well nonetheless.
Father Time
We get more classic Blind Melon here. This is a killer jam and showcases how the group takes a relatively simple song structure and makes something extremely special out of it by adding layers of sound and plenty of things going here and there to keep it interesting.
So High
Without any major changes, this tune is more classic Blind Melon.
Cheetum Street
This is another killer Blind Melon tune and features Travis Warren’s mother putting in a guest appearance singing alongside him. It’s a great way to end the disc.
 
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