Four

By: Blues Traveler

Type: Counterculture Groove Rock

Hot Tracks:
  • Stand
  • Fallible
  • The Mountains Win Again
  • Hook

It's about time Blues Traveler started getting the talent recognition they deserve. Interestingly enough, the songs on the album that are becoming hits are not the ones that I feel deserve the most recognition. Of the tracks that I listed above, only one has become a nationwide hit ("Hook.") "The Mountains Win Again" has a strong following in the Denver area, for obvious reasons, but does not seem to be quite as popular in other cities. There are other tracks that I would list before the big hit, "Run-Around," but I wished to limit the list to four tracks.

John Popper's intelligent cynicism makes for excellent lyrics, especially in "Hook." I suspect that this is the best treatise on the music business since Billy Joel penned "The Entertainer" -- but this time the focus is more on the purchasers than the record companies. I wonder how many people blindly repeat the lyrics without realizing that they are the subject of the song.

The airplay tracks seem to follow the formula of "put John Popper in the spotlight since he's such an incredible harp player and a good vocalist to boot." I wish they would give Chan Kinchla, the band's guitarist, a little more room to stretch and show off too. He can hold his own trading solos with Popper and provides a very solid backing for Popper's Hohner pyrothechnics when the time comes. Several of the tracks on this album feature Kinchla, including "Stand," "Fallible," "Freedom" and "Crash Burn."

A note on jamming: I'm glad to see bands like Blues Traveler, Dave Matthews Band, Phish and Big Head Todd coming to the fore. The music industry in recent years has been dominated by bands that, in general, don't jam. Even jazz in recent years has seemed canned, rather than alive and full of improvisation. I've missed the extended jams that sixties and seventies rock music produced, but the above named bands are bringing it back. Phish and Blues Traveler especially are capable of improvising jams in a live situation, and to me this shows more talent and attention to musicianship. I should point out as well that I feel this style of jamming is far beyond the Grateful Dead jam style, in which there seemed to be no sense of timing or form. All of these bands give careful attention to form and timing in their jams and this has the effect of letting us enjoy the jam without becoming bored, as the Grateful Dead jams often did.

<Ducking various objects thrown by die-hard Deadheads>

Rating (out of a possible five):

 

 

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