Blind Melon never stood a chance with me. When “No Rain” hit it big in 1993 (having been originally released in ’92), I was at the zenith of my heavy metal/prog rock love. There was no way this bunch of dirty hippies with their laid-back vibes and cutesy video were going to penetrate my cynical shell. By-Tor protect me!
I’ve mellowed since then and can admit that “No Rain” is a damn good song, and a cute video to boot. You go Bee Girl! So it is with a much more open mind that I delve into the rest of Blind Melon’s self-titled debut album from 1992.
I can’t be the only one taken a bit by surprise at what I heard right away from Blind Melon. Album opener “Soak the Sin” is a punchy, groove-laden rocker that sounds like the kind of song to get the 15-minute, jam treatment in concert. “Tones of Home” follows in a similar vein, with some pretty caustic lyrics from the late Shannon Hoon: “And I always thought this would be / See the land of milk and honey / Oh but I come to find out that it’s all hate and money / And there’s a canopy of greed holding me down.”
Blind Melon had been together for roughly three years when their first record was released, but throughout they sound like they’d been playing together for much longer. Guitarists Rogers Stevens and Chris Thorn weave effortlessly in and out of rockers like “I Wonder” and “Dear Ol’ Dad,” while Glenn Graham (drums) and Brad Smith (bass) provide a rock-solid foundation for tracks like “Deserted” and “Seed to a Tree.”
Reinforcing these songs up are Hoon’s lyrics, which range from the reflective (“Change” and “Sleepyhouse”) to the disturbing (“Dear Ol Dad” and “Paper Scratcher”). Anyone looking for clues about Hoon’s state of mind just three years before his death can make what they will out of lines like “On the day I die thank God my soul will be released.”
The only complaints I can lodge against Blind Melon are that the songs, while all skillfully executed, can blend into one another. Too many numbers tend to lock into the same jammy pulse, and there are no instantly memorable melodies outside of “No Rain.” Still, it’s a hell of a debut album and not at all undeserving of its acclaim.
At least partially on the strength of “No Rain” single, Blind Melon shot to #3 on the Billboard 200 and earned Quadruple Platinum status. Their followup record, the much darker Soup, peaked at #28 in 1995 but didn’t come anywhere close to the sales of the debut. Just one month into the supporting tour for Soup, Shannon Hoon died of a heart attack brought on by a cocaine overdose. He was 28.
A posthumous collection of outtakes and cover songs, Nico, was released in November 1996. After a fruitless search for a new lead singer, Blind Melon officially called it quits in 1999. They reunited in 2006 with new singer Travis Warren and released For My Friends in 2008, but have been largely inactive since then.