After reviewing Blind Melon bassist Brad Smith's last Abandon Jalopy disc, I've been looking for an opportunity go back and give a listen to Blind Melon. The reissue of the band's 1992 self-titled debut may be a good place from which to reassess my (somewhat dated) views of the band's music as this new deluxe edition includes the original 12-track disc plus five bonus tracks from a scrapped session that the band recorded in Los Angeles with Neil Young producer David Briggs (entitled 'Sippin' Time Sessions'). There are some bootleg videos from this session on YouTube and I like what I've heard thus far.
Blind Melon’s lead single, “No Rain,” became a phenomenon when coupled with the brilliant music video that launched a thousand “bee girl” Halloween costumes. The song broke the fledgling band into major stardom as a No. 1 chart smash on Billboard’s Mainstream Rock and Modern Rock singles charts, and it went Top 5 on the Top 40 Mainstream singles chart. The album’s second single, “Tones Of Home,” was a Top 10 Mainstream Rock hit. Blind Melon peaked at #3 on the Billboard 200 albums chart and in the Top 10 of Billboard’s Heatseekers chart.
The band’s first professional studio recordings, cut at Sound City Studios in 1991, comprise the previously unreleased, five-song “Sippin’ Time Sessions” EP: “Dear Ol’ Dad,” “Soul One,” “Tones Of Home,” “Seed To A Tree,” and “Mother.” Included in all of the new edition’s configurations, the EP’s tracks have been newly remixed by Brad Smith and Christopher Thorn.
"When I pulled up the tracks, I was immediately taken back to the feeling of walking into a big studio for the first time,” says Brad Smith. “Everyone seemed to be on fire, especially Shannon. It was super refreshing to hear full takes without overdubs! 2" tape, 24 tracks and dudes in a room with mics... amazing! David Briggs took us to Sound City because he had worked there with Neil Young and really liked the Neve board that was in there. Listening back to the tapes, I realize he made the perfect choice for us. We are lucky to have these recordings!"
“I am very excited that these recordings are finally being heard,” says Christopher Thorn. “As I was mixing the tracks I realized just how lucky we were to record at the legendary Sound City Studios with John Hanlon as our engineer and David Briggs as our producer. They taught us so much about how to capture our sound on tape. David was in the tracking room with us, conducting and dancing along with us. I felt so inspired by him. It is one of my favorite memories during this session. This was a magical time for our band and I am very excited that our fans will finally get to hear and feel just how pumped we were to be making our first recordings. Hearing Shannon's voice on these recordings gave me chills and reminded me why I still miss him every day."
Blind Melon’s founding members, Shannon Hoon (vocals), Rogers Stevens (guitar), Christopher Thorn (guitar), Brad Smith (bass), and Glen Graham (drums), each hailing from small towns in Mississippi, Indiana and Pennsylvania, first crossed paths in the late 1980s as young Los Angeles transplants, all seeking like-minded musical collaborators somewhere outside the city’s tangle of metal band hair. They came together to form Blind Melon and signed with Capitol Records in 1991; their self-titled debut was released the following year.
Blind Melon’s second album, Soup, was released in 1995. After a concert in Houston on October 20, 1995, Hoon died at the age of 28. Without Shannon Hoon, Blind Melon’s remaining members decided it would be best to end the band, and they went on to pursue their own interests. The band would go into hiatus for the next 12 years.
Over the years, it was clear that there was still an unmistakable demand for the band. It was around 2007 that Smith and Thorn were asked to produce a few tracks for Texas-based singer/songwriter, Travis Warren – who also happened to be a diehard Blind Melon fan. Working with Warren on his demo, Smith jokingly said to Thorn that Warren “could sing Blind Melon songs in his sleep.” The idea was born. The four remaining members – who hadn’t been in the same room in years – came together to be reacquainted with each other, and to meet with Warren. Soon after, it had become apparent that they had finally located Blind Melon’s new singer. With Stevens and Graham reclaiming their original positions, Blind Melon was back.
Setting up shop at Wishbone Studios, the reformed band spent most of 2007 writing and recording. But before issuing a new album, the group decided to introduce their newest member via a highly successful and completely sold out club tour in late 2007. If the strong response from fans at these shows is any indication, the group’s upcoming shows and forthcoming new music will continue to spread the word even further. The band has since performed all over the globe and plans on continuing to write, record and play into 2013, celebrating their 20 years of dedication to their music and to keeping Shannon`s memory alive.