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Blues Traveler
Bridge
by Josh Babcock
LA Weekly, Los Angeles, CA
Jun 1st, 2001



First off, except for its ubiquitous harmonica player, Blues Traveler has never had the slightest connection to blues. Not that thatıs a bad thing, mind you, just another one of life's many mysteries. Others would be: Why would anyone listen to or buy this music? And why is this band so popular?

For its first release in four years, press releases heralded "major changes." Despite a somewhat slimmer John Popper (inspired by his '99 heart surgery) and new bassist Tad Kinchla (brother of guitarist Chan, Tad replaced Bobby Sheehan, who died in August '99 of a drug overdose), Bridge is essentially the same recycled bubblegum-funk and (mercifully abbreviated) jams. If groove-based cuts like "Back in the Day" and "You Reach Me" had promise, they are completely sabotaged by Popper, whose bouncy vocals make Mr. Rogers sound soulful, while the lyrics to "Girl Inside My Head" and "Just for Me" make a fella long for the indecipherable prose of Robert Hunter. And if that wasnıt bad enough, check out the faux ska of "Just for Me" and "Pretty Angry", B.T.ıs paean to the deceased Sheehan (is "pretty angry" like "almost dead"?). Meanwhile, in spite of a promise to give the harp a rest (itıs an instrument that, with a few exceptions ‹ Little Walter, Slim Harpo, Charlie McCoy and Peg Leg Sam ‹ should be retired), Popperıs run-on solos, some treated with silly effects, are, like Bela Fleckıs excesses, simply annoying.

The real crime is that these guys are good musicians who happen to have horrible taste. Granted, itıs almost too easy to bust on Blues Traveler and Popper (whose pro-NRA babble makes him the kind of guy you love to hate), but if mediocrity is what made this country great, B.T. is a national treasure. (Michael Lipton)