Category: Album Review


Blind+Melon

What the hell was I thinking back then in the good old 90’s?!?!?!  I was in high school and college during this great transformation of rock music that many forget about now.  “Alternative” and “Grunge” were new labels then,  and I was a true believer in anything from Seattle and this new music movement.  Bands like Nirvana and Pearl Jam led the pack on the radio and MTV, but us cool kids rocked Alice and Chains and Soundgarden just as much.  You knew about Mother Love Bone and the tribute that followed in Temple of the Dog.  But one band and album that slipped by my ears unfortunately until now is the one and only self titled album Blind Melon.

This album is a monster of goodness.  Back in the day it was overshadowed by the lead singers death, and was tied to the one huge hit song it had “No Rain“.  I remember even buying this album but couldn’t understand or get its vibe.  I honestly think I wanted everyone to be this Nirvana/Pearl Jam thing, even though I loved classic rock and had an appreciation for different music….I think I must have been thinking “Your a new band, sound like everyone else and if you sound classic I don’t like you…..Hendrix does it better then you so don’t do that”…..I’m trying to examine my own actions years later and still,  no clue.

“Soak the Sin” starts the album with a nice twangy riff with Zepplin like shifts that make this a good roller coaster of ups and downs. The mix puts rhythm guitars panned left and leads right,  making the jam in this song super sweeeeeet sounding.  In fact much of this good sounding mix is heard throughout….Great production and sound on this album.  Second song “Tones of Home” highlights lead singer Joe Smiths unique voice and vocal style over a very pop rock progression, but again has a loose Zepplin feel. Little solos in and out very cool interplay from the guitarists keeps the momentum up and make this song a unique treat.  “I Wonder” starts with a slow piece, but after a minute turns it up.  Twang but its not country.  Its such a cool sound.  Then it goes into Grateful Dead territory….and back out again….WHO DOES THAT?!  Cool solo at the end and of course, and I’m loving this.

“Paper Scratcher” continues Blind Melon’s style of cool twang with guitar solos panned left and right, but forget all that and seriously, just listen to Joe Smiths voice!!!  How smooth and good does he sound?!  Amazing!  “Dear Ol’ Dad” is a funky kind of rocker that is the first song to change up the style.  They get funked up and Joe Smiths vocal melodies are sweet.  Add an acoustic guitar for a weird little solo and its back to the funk to the end.  “Change” continues with an acoustic guitar playing a little campfire intro,  heading into a swamp boogie including some cool dirty slide guitar and some more sweet solos!  Short but sweet solos=perfection.  Having such a unique sound as a band=Priceless.

The big hit “No Rain” comes in half-way through the album as the seventh song, and is a pretty unique sound.  You either like it or don’t.  “Deserted” shows Joe Smith changing his voice up even more and this is like an early Maroon 5 jam.  These guys can funk/rock/twang it up so good.  SO sick.  Its no wonder then the next song “Sleepyhouse” sounds like a Black Crows jammer.  Its super chill and continues this overall cool vibe of the album that is heard throughout.  “Holyman” starts to reveal almost every Blind Melon song starts with a one minute intro that misleads you to where its really heading!  The song keeps the good vibes up for sure, but this and the next song “Seed to a Tree” are the least desirable on the album compared to the other fantastic songs on the album.

“Drive” and “Time” both have that end of album, slow it down a little  experimental feel to them.  Great way to finish up this cool album that keeps up almost an hour of great music.  Fans of the 90’s probably already have this, so its more of a reminder for them to check out Blind Melon again and for newbies its a definite must have!  If your like me and happen to be both a music lover and a musician, this album will blow you away on its unique, yet hard rocking and soulful sound.  A sound that’s like no one else.  And when your a musician, that’s the best compliment you can get.  Much love to Blind Melon, much love.

“All I can say Is that my life is pretty plain”

The 1st album to be discovered in “The Amoeba Files” is Lenny Kravitz’s Circus.  His 4th album released in 1995 was one of and still is,  one of my favorite cds to this day.  In my first years of college that thing got some major play and somehow after 15 years, it went missing!  After another infamous trip to Amoeba Music here in San Francisco,  I’m glad to say its back in my collection as I’m rediscovering the best Lenny Kravitz album ever.  Let me tell you why.

The album starts with the released single “Rock and Roll is Dead” which was a statement on the music scene at the time.  Its a decent rock song which really jams a couple minutes in.  Because it was one of the first riffs I learned on guitar,  I have some love for the song.  Sadly next, the only misstep occurs on the album.  The second song “Circus” kills the flow by being way too slow and a little mundane. A decent song, but my least favorite on the record.

Now this is the best part.  You could start the cd here as these four songs go soooo well together.  There’s something about albums that have great songs that just flow throughout.  That magic.  Starting with the cool rocker “Beyond the 7th Sky”, this is probably one of my favorite songs of Kravitz..  A sludgy head-shaker, this is a truly awesome song.  “Tunnel Vision” keeps the pace up with a James Brown funk thing with some super sweet guitar playing in the leads and rhythms.  “Can’t Get You Off My Mind” is simply his best ballad and a great song to chill and reflect.  “Magdalene” keeps this cool vibe going playing as it twists and turns in this in-between rocker/acoustic piece.  Something almost timeless about these songs for me as I reflect and write this.  Good stuff.

The album slows down with “God is Love” which is a good song, but a little too slow and 2nd least favorite song here.

Circus gets back on track with the good vibes and wah wah guitar on “Thin Ice”.  “Don’t Go and Put a Bullet In Your Head” slows its down again, but the beat is so chill and listenable.  “In My Life Today” is another great chill song that has some great lyrics and instrumentation.  From suicide to love, Lenny makes these transitions in content almost unnoticed.   Some dramatic horns close the album with “The Resurrection” which like a few other songs, express Lenny’s faith in God and his message of love.  Some great stuff indeed, in fact in my opinion…his best.  Go back in your collection and spin Circus again, it wont disappoint.

       “I’m old enough to see behind me, but young enough to feel my soul”

Recently I’ve found a few really good excuses for myself to buy lots of music.  As a musician and guitar player, I always need to work on some cover songs and need the source material.  Also as a TRX fitness instructor, I like to play music in class and need to change it up all the time.  And really, I just love music old and new!  My collection has always been a source of joy, and adding to it is nothing but good times and inspiration waiting to happen for my guitar playing and life!  Downloading is fine when there is no other option, but I’m still into that collectable thing and love getting my cds!  Album info, pics and lyrics, and just having a copy better then mp3 form is enough for me not to change!

When I make one of these music buying trips, its usually to Amoeba Music here in San Francisco.  Amoeba Music has been one of the reasons I’ve stayed in San Francisco since I came here to go to SF State in 1999.  I love walking in and never knowing what I will leave with…but I always leave with something!  When I first shopped here, I was into LP’s and vinyl records and of course have always been a buyer of cds.  Recently I go to the bargain bin of cds and go crazy.  I get some stuff I was afraid to try, or just something I may have never given a chance in the first place.  Soundtracks are something I’ve always been into and always pick up a few of those as well.  I have a few artists I search specifically and return a happy man with new music from all over the spectrum.

Now I wish to share the best and most inspirational music I find with you!  It might be an old classic I discover, something new to my heart…..whatever may come you’ll get the stuff close to my heart!   Please enjoy “The Amoeba Files!!!”

 “One good thing about music, when it hits you feel no pain”