Performer: Blues Traveler
Artist: Joan Osborne; Chris Barron
Engineer: Jeff Lippay; Justin Niebank...
Producer: Justin Niebank...
Distributor: Universal Distribution
Notes: Blues Traveler: John Popper (vocals, harmonica, 12-string acoustic guitar); Chan Kinchla (guitar); Bobby Sheehan (bass); Brendan Hill (drums, percussion). Additional personnel: Master Arnie Lawrence D.M.F. (soprano saxophone); Howie Wyeth (piano); Justin Niebank (handclaps); Kevin Traynor, Chris Barron, Joan Osborne (background vocals). Recorded at RPM, New York, New York from February 19 to March 3, 1990. Personnel: John Popper (vocals, 12-string guitar, harmonica); Howie Wyeth (piano); Brendan Hill (drums, percussion); Chris Barron , Joan Osborne (background vocals). Audio Mixer: Justin Niebank. Recording information: RPM, New York, NY (02/19/1990-03/03/1990). Photographer: Nola Lopez. Arranger: Justin Niebank. Though Blues Traveler wouldn't have their big pop breakthrough hit, "Runaround," for another four years, they were already a popular live draw by the time of their 1990 self-titled debut. As perhaps the prototypical jam band, Blues Traveler's played live sets that were ever-changing affairs, but this loose, organic-sounding album is a more than fair approximation of the group's early sound, both in the fluid song structures and the way that singer and harmonica player John Popper thoroughly dominates the proceedings. The lengthy songs spiral out into platforms for Popper's conversational, laid-back vocal style and his genuinely great chromatic harp solos (Stevie Wonder is the only better player in the pop realm). The nearly 10-minute "Crystal Flame" is the album's centerpiece, but other elongated, shaggy tunes like "Alone" and the sarcastic rave-up closer "Sweet Talking Hippie" are equally entertaining.
Blues Traveler personified the second wave of jam bands that arose in the late '80s and early '90s. It was the Grateful Dead that turned the idea of playing a different, heavily improvised set of its tunes every night into a fine art. Like the Dead, Blues Traveler employs a hybrid of a number of classic American styles, from country to folk and blues, delivered in an idiosyncratic style. Led by the mighty singer/harp player John Popper, Blues Traveler had personality and appeal, but it wasn't until their hit "Runaround" that the group was catapulted into the public eye.
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