Blues Traveler reminds me of standing in the sun at that show you
didn't really want to go to with that friend from work because you didn't
really fit in with "those" beer-drinking white folks, plus you
didn't own a bandana and didn't dig a sunburn or dirty feet. It's a day
you swore you'd never repeat. Hey, is that a Blues Traveler lyric?
You know the show, nobody passed you a joint and you got a headache and
could smell puke somewhere nearby. No, it wasn't a John Popper-inspired
H.O.R.D.E. tour, just something similar. But we've come not to condemn
Blues Traveler but to understand them, and their fans, which are many.
1994's breakthrough record four has sold six million copies, and
the band has rightfully taken their time to offer this followup. (Live
From The Fall, 1996's double CD, doesn't count.) What has emerged here
in Straight On Till Morning is, well, a Blues Traveler record.
Boogie howls, harmonica, speed singing, slow songs, fast songs, long
songs, short songs and instrumentals. A regular Kellogg's Variety Pack.
Popper is an infectious presence and you can't deny a prolific sense of
songwriting and composition, but Blues Traveler isn't really a band as
much as a lifestyle, I think. A Grateful Dead for the speed-freak crowd
that spilled over into the mainstream for a time. Nothing here stands out
as a hit single a la that real fast one from four, but "Yours"
is a nice ballad and "Psycho Joe" does come close to societal
commentary. The final track "Make My Way" could emerge as the
"I Will Survive" for their fans. I just don't get it.