Managing to be equally mellow and introspective as well as rough and rocking, Blind Melon's 1992 self-titled debut remains one of the purest-sounding rock albums of its era, completely devoid of '90s production tricks. While Blind Melon were never the toast of the critics, their self-titled 1992 debut has held up incredibly well over time, resembling a true rock classic. For reasons unknown, the late Shannon Hoon was, unfairly, usually the brunt of reviewers' criticisms, yet his angelic voice and talent for penning lyrics that examined the ups and downs of everyday life were an integral part of Blind Melon's sound, as well as the band's supreme jamming interplay. The most renowned song remains the uplifting hit "No Rain," but the whole album is superb -- the homesick rocker "Tones of Home," the desperate "I Wonder," the epic album closer "Time," and the gentle acoustic strum of "Change," which included lyrics that turned out to be sadly prophetic for Hoon. Other highlights are a song inspired by the homeless ("Paper Scratcher"), "Sleepyhouse," which describes the feeling of isolation the band felt recording the debut in a secluded residence, and the retro (yet refreshing) sounds of "Soak the Sin" and "Dear Ol' Dad." Although the album started out slow sales-wise, constant touring and the success of "No Rain" one year after the debut's initial release proved to be Blind Melon's breakthrough success, eventually almost topping the charts and going multi-platinum.
Capitol's 20th anniversary edition of Blind Melon's debut is expanded with the Sippin' Time Sessions EP, a five-track set recorded at the now-legendary Sound City Studios in L.A. by David Briggs. Essentially, it's a loose dry run for the proper album, containing three of its songs ("Dear Ol' Dad," "Tones of Home," "Seed to a Tree") and two tunes that didn't make the cut ("Soul One," "Mother"). Often, the gangliness of the EP is more appealing than the polished product but there are no great revelations here outside of the fact that Blind Melon's heavy hippie rock was pretty much in place from the get-go. ~ Greg Prato