In Random Pulls, the Modern Vinyl staff digs blindly through their collections to reveal the ins and outs of their musical history and tastes. Want to go digging through your own collection? Submit a writeup of 100-200 words and a photo of the record’s most interesting visual aspect to firstname.lastname@example.org and it may be part of a weekly wrap-up.
Reissue (2014), Originally Released (1992)
Music On Vinyl – MOVLP1100 – Limited Yellow/Black
“No Rain” might have been one of the first CD singles I ever purchased — I believe it was this one — if my memory is correct. My father lived in an apartment off of the town square (think Mayberry), and on Saturdays I would walk a block up to the big pawn shop and peruse their CD and cassette selection, where I’m pretty sure I bought “No Rain” in gently used condition from the glass media case. The bigger question: Was it ok for an 11-year-old to be going in and out of a pawn shop by himself? The world may never know.
I was late to the Blind Melon game, getting my fill from the main single without much regard for any of their later albums. After singer Shannon Hoon’s death, I kind of just wrote them off as another ’90s grunge rock causality. It wasn’t until Napster, and then a chance download of their final (full) album Soup, that I jumped back into their catalogue to take a look. Bind Melon, Soup, and even Nico all have some amazing songs on them, and for the most part they hold up without sounding too dated. To write their first or subsequent albums off as typical grunge was a mistake, as well as only judging them by their biggest hit single.
Blind Melon is a tough one to pin down. One minute it sounds like hippie folk (“No Rain”), and the next it’s going into swirling psychedelic territory like on the ’60s romp “Sleepyhouse.” One thing’s for sure: they don’t sound like any of their contemporaries. They aren’t quite heavy enough to be Alice in Chains, yet they are far more experimental than The Black Crowes. One constant is the exceptional musicianship — these guys can play! Whether it’s the funky guitar riffs, the often on/off time drum passages, or Shannon’s squelchy then soft vocals, the whole band are bringing their A game to this record.
Their second release — 1995’s criminally overlooked Soup — failed to garner the attention of their first album, and Hoon’s untimely death at the age of 28 put a stop to the band’s output for a while. Over the years they reformed, broke up, and reformed again but they have yet to capture the magic created in those first two records. Some of the problems have to do with just how great of a frontman Hoon really was — there’s never been another singer like him, and his skills as a frontman were pretty legendary. For reference, just check out their performance at Woodstock 94; after ingesting who knows what, Hoon, wearing his girlfriend’s dress and Doc Marten boots, stomps his way around the stage nailing every song like he’s in the studio. It’s an incredible performance and sums up just how chaotic he could be on stage.
So, now 23 years later, the weird album with the bee girl is still a must own. It’s a snapshot of just how strange the ’90s could get, and it stands as a testament for every band out there to always remain true to your art no matter what the current trend is.
Music On Vinyl did a fantastic job (as usual) on this release. The jacket is a gloss finish on heavy weight cardboard with an audiophile-grade sleeve holding the 180-gram record. There’s also an insert with handwritten lyrics and some band pictures. The real star is the vinyl, which has an awesome yellow/black mix to match the bee motif of the cover. If you’re interested in the album I would highly recommend seeking out this release.
“Sleepyhouse,” “No Rain” & “Change.”