Set in chronological order vis-à-vis launch date, every entry incorporates a quick artist historical past, the place the album matches of their historical past, an evaluation of the fabric, and typically, quotes from both the artist or somebody related to the recording, and/or a famend admirer (in addition to chart placements and certifications, the place relevant).
And beneath is the entry for Blind Melon’s self-titled debut, included in Vol. II, an album that not solely gave us the MTV hit “No Rain,” but additionally such further alt-rock classics as “Tones of Dwelling” and “Change,” amongst others.
Blind Melon (Blind Melon, 1992)
It appeared like for a spell throughout the early-mid ’90s, an album that’s now thought of a “rock basic” was unveiled nearly each month. Some have been anticipated…some weren’t. Blind Melon’s self-titled debut actually will get my vote for the latter class. Whereas finest recognized for its hippie-ish hit, “No Rain,” there was oh-so-much-more to this album (and band) – and I’ll now take the chance to state my case.
To again up a bit, the members of Blind Melon hailed from all over the place however the metropolis they’d finally first cross paths in – Los Angeles. Working example, singer Shannon Hoon was from Lafayette, Indiana; guitarist Christopher Thorn from Dover, Pennsylvania; whereas guitarist Rogers Stevens, bassist Brad Smith, and drummer Glen Graham all traveled from West Level, Mississippi. However by 1991, the band had signed to Capitol Data (thanks partly to Hoon’s affiliation with fellow Lafayette native Axl Rose, and singing on the G N’ R hit “Do not Cry”) – and provided up a singular sound that whereas usually categorised as “alt-rock,” was extra like a cross between Jane’s Dependancy and the Allman Brothers.
Periods for what would develop into their debut album happened between February via June 1992 at London Bridge Studio in Seattle, with Rick Parashar and the band producing (the studio and Parashar have been chosen attributable to basic recordings by Temple of the Canine, Pearl Jam, and Alice in Chains being created/produced there). “London Bridge on the time owned a home a few mile away that they lived in,” remembered the album’s assistant engineer, Jon Plum, within the e-book An Angel on One Shoulder and a Satan on the Different: The Story of Shannon Hoon and Blind Melon. “They spent a whole lot of time adorning and making it their house. I keep in mind they embellished the studio – they put up tapestries and had candles. Shannon would drip wax all over the place. We might have all these music stands, and he’d sit and make little wax artwork tasks.”
“That was actually enjoyable – positively one of many excessive factors of our band life,” added Stevens in the identical e-book. “Not one of the dangerous stuff had actually occurred and it was a really optimistic time. Working with Rick Parashar – him and his brother, Raj, have been so linked. This complete actually enjoyable nightlife scene. So we skilled a enjoyable, decadent time. Rick had a very good rapport with the band, he was capable of coax the report alongside to get the place it was, with out getting too heavy-handed about it. As a result of I can solely think about what it should have been like for him – it was apparent that there have been a whole lot of issues we have been fairly naïve about. And it was additionally apparent that there was a whole lot of volatility amongst the individuals within the group. However we bought it finished. It seemed like the best way we needed it to be. I keep in mind on the time Brad being actually sad with it. However wanting again on it, I am positive he’d really feel in any other case.”
“The final rule for me was ‘keep as distant as potential from Shannon when he was recording’,” says Graham in regards to the singer. “We recorded after which he got here in afterwards. Mainly, for each the albums, when he got here in to do his vocals, he was coming off of a six-week to two-month full-on, throw down occasion. And having unexpectedly to relax. Which is troublesome to do, after you’ve got been smoking, ingesting, and doing no matter else you are doing all day and all night time for a very long time. I averted him. [Laughs] He may very well be very unstable. He wasn’t a self-conscious individual usually, however he was very self-conscious about doing his vocals. And I am very direct. The much less stated the higher. It was extra blatant on the second report – he was protecting up a whole lot of it on the primary report.”
Opening the album can be the rootsy rocker “Soak the Sin,” which Smith remembered the lyrical inspiration as being “About tripping within the desert. The entire band went out to the desert, and we noticed Liquid Jesus play – it was out close to Joshua Tree. I feel it was some form of homegrown pageant. It was possibly 3-500 individuals on the market. I used to be driving again out into the desert after coming to Los Angeles. So the tune was a bit about simply driving within the desert and realizing how far you’ve got are available your musical journey. And the way good it feels to return house and get re-grounded.”
Up subsequent was one of many album’s prime tunes, “Tones of Dwelling,” which it seems Stevens had a hand in writing. “[‘Tones of Home’] was written proper as we met [Shannon]. I do not forget that Brad wrote the primary verse, I wrote the second verse – the lyrics – and Shannon completed it off. Nevertheless it was actually about how we bought on the market and we have been fully disillusioned – that LA wasn’t what we thought it was.” One other standout was positioned after, the Zeppelin-ish “I Surprise,” which Stevens recollects, “I had the principle riff to. I introduced that riff in, and we constructed the tune off that. It is a type of escape-ism sort vibes to me, that Shannon wrote the phrases about. However I do not forget that riff, as a result of I had that opening huge rock riff for some time. Earlier than the band was even shaped, I used to be enjoying it in my bed room in Los Angeles.”
The subsequent tune, “Paper Scratcher,” was about an intriguing gentleman that caught Hoon’s consideration, in response to Stevens. “It was about this man that we used to see on a regular basis – he was a homeless man, that was proper round the place Shannon and I lived. He would have these magazines or catalogs – ripping pages out of – scratching stuff off of, just like the personal components of the individuals. Actually odd. He was clearly mentally unwell. In order that tune is about that man. We’d give him cash on a regular basis and speak to him – some days he can be completely sane, and different days, he’d be simply gone.”
Since Stevens is doing such an ideal job giving us the meanings behind the songs to this point, let’s preserve a great factor going! Regarding “Expensive Ol’ Dad,” he recollects that it was “Written about [Shannon’s] girlfriend. We had that piece of music – it was constructed round Brad’s bass, after which we put the refrain in. It was written about…he had a girlfriend that was dwelling on the market on the time – a little bit of a wildcard. There was some stuff that she revealed to him about her father, and he wrote the tune about it.”
And in addition one other album standout, the acoustic gem “Change” – which Hoon performed for his soon-to-be-bandmates upon their first assembly in 1990. “[‘Change’] blew us away proper off the bat. It has these greater than life lyrics. A part of it was nearly like a Hallmark card. Simply the lyric, ‘Life is difficult, it’s a must to change,’ I imply severely, you may see that on a Hallmark card! In a means, form of corny, however in a means, profound. He had that capacity to say actually easy issues, that everyone might relate to, and that was a type of songs. It was simply immediately excellent.”
After which…the aforementioned tune that will function the album’s breakthrough hit, “No Rain.” And the tune’s composer, Smith, described its that means as the next: “On the time, I believed I used to be writing it about my ex-girlfriend, and the reality was, I used to be writing it about myself. You get so overwhelmed by Los Angeles or any huge metropolis once you come from someplace like West Level, Mississippi. The tune is about despair, and discovering excuses to not be pleased, or discovering excuses to be a loner, as a result of it feels good to be sad.”
Smith additionally recollects the lyrical inspiration behind the album’s subsequent tune. “[‘Deserted’] is about getting back from the desert. We have been tripping on acid, and I used to be nonetheless tripping once I bought house the subsequent morning, at 10:00. The tune is like, ‘Man, I’ve bought to get sober – I am bored with tripping my balls off. I am fully exhausted, dehydrated, hungry. I simply needed to be in my mattress and ‘unstoned.’ I walked within the door, grabbed my guitar, and wrote that first verse – simply finished.”
“Sleepyhouse” can be a few home the band rented in Durham, North Carolina to pen materials for his or her debut, whereas “Holy Man” was written about a few of Stevens’ childhood experiences. “Seed to a Tree” stays a little bit of a thriller lyrically [Stevens: “To me, that song is open for interpretation, I think it has to do with his relationship to his father”], whereas Thorn as soon as defined the story behind “Drive.”
“I labored with this man named Willie [at a second-hand clothing store called ‘Jet Rag’], and he began to experiment with heroin, sadly. I used to be telling Shannon the story – Shannon was buddies with William as nicely. Sooner or later, Shannon got here down to go to me at work, and Willie hadn’t had medication, so he was detoxing – going via withdrawals. The tune ‘Mom’ got here on from John Lennon, and he began crying – it was this actually heavy second. So Shannon wrote the lyrics about that – and the lyrics are about another stuff that I would not need to speak about, about another experiences Shannon and I had.”
And the ultimate tune, “Time,” would quickly become a live performance spotlight – attributable to it changing into a jam favourite. Stevens: “The lyrics are about being in Columbus [and] West Level. After which we simply crammed in as a band. I actually appreciated that tune as a result of it had a lot power – it was enjoyable to play reside. [The ending] was a type of issues – it was so open. It was just a bit easy two-chord factor, and we might transfer round with it. Some audiences you’d lose with it – generally it could be good. As we went together with it, we began settling into it and doing that on another songs. Typically it was out of boredom and generally it was out of inspiration. It was hit and miss.”
Launched on September 22, 1992, it could take nearly a full 12 months earlier than Blind Melon broke via – due to the extremely common video for “No Rain.” Directed by Samuel Bayer (finest recognized on the time for guiding Nirvana’s “Smells Like Teen Spirit” clip), the video took the album cowl and introduced it to life. The one drawback is that the quilt was a photograph from again within the ’70s of Graham’s sister, Georgia, who was now clearly significantly older. After a seek for a teenager who resembled the “bee lady,” an actress by the title of Heather DeLoach was forged.
“I keep in mind the costume was too quick for my torso,” DeLoach recalled within the e-book Shannon. “I naturally did not have that slouch that you simply see within the video – it was as a result of I did not need my little lady components to return out. [Laughs] And I keep in mind by the point I did the VMA’s [which aired live on September 2, 1993], the lady stitched a brand new costume for me that was so much greater. And I keep in mind being within the studio and them saying, ‘You are going to faucet’ – and I had no clue how one can faucet. I even assume on one of many photographs, it isn’t even my toes – I feel it is someone else’s toes, as a result of I believed, ‘I did not do this transfer’!”
“The video with the bee lady is one thing that’s fully unforgettable,” former MTV VJ Matt Pinfield defined in a Songfacts interview, entitled Matt Pinfield on 10 of the Best Alt-Rock Movies of the ’90s. “It is enjoyable, it reveals the band extremely in a cool, vivid mild. And the tune is so infectious.” In consequence, Blind Melon’s debut would peak at #3 on the Billboard 200, and possess spectacular endurance (coming in at #45 and #81 on Billboard’s 12 months-Finish Album Chart for 1993 and 1994, respectively), and finally rely, was licensed quadruple platinum within the US and in Canada.
Greg Prato is a longtime AllMusic contributor and creator of a number of books, together with A+ Albums: The Tales Behind 50 Rock Classics (Vol. II), 1982-2000.