Mother Love Bone
Mother Love Bone



by Waterloo_Sunset USER (7 Reviews)
January 24th, 2007 | 16 replies

Release Date: 1992 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Everett True (Melody Maker Journalist) when asked who he believed would make it ftom the Seattle scene listed 3 bands: Mudhoney, Soundgarden and Mother Love Bone. This CD is a must have for Grunge fans as it combines the only 2 MLB releases

After Green River (who many consider to be the founding fathers of Grunge) split two bands rised from its ashes - one was Mudhoney (Mark Arm and Steve Turner) the other Mother Love Bone (Jeff Ament, Stone Gossard & Bruce Fairweather). Mother Love Bone was also the band that brought together the members of Pearl Jam for the first time. After the tragic loss of front man Andrew Wood, members of Mother Love Bone joined together by Chris Cornell (Wood’s flatmate), and friends Mike McCready and Eddie Vedder to form Temple of the Dog. Mother Love Bone therefore played an integral part of the Grunge scene and this CD commemorates that brief period from 1988-1990 when Green River's legacy was carried into the mainstream. Stardog Champion, combines Mother Love Bones only EP “Shine” with their only released Album “Apple”. For these two reasons alone Stardog Champion is an essential purchase for any fan of the Grunge scene, not to mention the quality of the music contained inside this small plastic box.

Headed by their charismatic front man Andrew Wood, Mother Love Bone were at the forefront of the music scene in Seattle. Wood was a natural born showman, who took a great deal of influence from Freddie Mercury. He even references the Queen singer in the song Capricorn Sister
you play the hits, and I’m on that roll, Capricorn sister, Freddie Mercury
. His stage presence was purely from the school of Freddie Mercury, however his vocal style was similar to that of fellow Seattle Resident Layne Staley with clear influence of classic rock lead men such as Robert Plant and Ian Gillan. Wood and the rest of the band never really took themselves too seriously, they just wanted to have fun and their songs were testament to this. Despite some soulful ballads, the majority of their music was upbeat with elements of glam rock as well as some blistering grunge. This interesting mix was added to with fun lyrics that had a sense of humour for example
“Shes my sunshine, she’s my moonshine, she’s ma hot, ma hot ma Gandhi”
taken from the song Thru Fade Away.

Mother Love Bone were also capable of writing some beautifully sentimental and emotional lyrics also, ballads like Crown of Thorns, Man of Golden Words and Stargazer are examples of that. Andrew Wood was unlike any other grunge front man he was an extravagent showman not just happy go through the motions of performing live, he wanted to spread some love, and give the audience a good time and he did this incredibly well. He was a popular man on the scene and following his death not only did he have a band assembled in his honour – Temple of the Dog, other musicians wrote songs in his memory – Jerry Cantrell wrote Would" and Chris Cornell wrote Jesus Christ Pose two massive hit records to come from that time period. The biggest legacy Andrew Wood left was Pearl Jam whose heights he was destined to achieve, but were tragically cut short.

The sound of Mother Love Bone is quite surprising, as there is a large emphasis on glam-rock, considering that three of the bands members were influential in creating the “grunge” sound the antithesis of glam rock! Grunge fans do not be deterred by this fact – there is a vast amount of swirling distorted solo’s, and dirty hard rocking riffs that are up there with any Soundgarden, Alice in Chains and Pearl Jam track. However, Mother Love Bone is not an out and out underground, skuzzy hardcore Seattle punk band, they are much, much more than that. Like their predecessors Pearl Jam, Mother Love Bone made good “Pop” songs laced with a grunge sound much more fitting to large arena tours than the small venues they were used to in Seattle.

On to a brief description of the songs themselves – the good thing about Stardog Champion is that they have neatly divided the disc into two sections, the first 13 tracks are the full listing from Apple.

The Apple album was released in 1990 a few weeks after Andrew Wood fatally overdosed on herion. The section kicks off with the barn-storming This is Shangri-La, and fittingly ends with the ballad Crown of Thorns. This is somewhat fittingly mystical for an album that can be regarded as the Holy Grail of grunge. It is a great fusion of musicianship and showmanship. It is pure, not motivated by money or greed for fame, but of five guys enjoying themselves and having fun creating music. It is the meeting point of two colossuses Green River and Pearl Jam, underground and mainstream – I could go on with many reasons and concepts of why this album is special, but infact the cynical realist in me will inform you it is far from perfect.

Apple is good, its fun, and its upbeat, but it hasn’t aged terribly well. There are plenty of cringeworthy moments – for instance the Children chanting “Not, not now” in the background of Stardog Champion. The voice over on Holy Roller is almost as bad as Axl Roses telephone message in the middle of Knocking on Heavens door. Some of the guitar licks, and lyrics sound incredibly 80s, but in saying this there is a great deal of good here. Jeff Ament, and Stone Gossard produce some great rythms, while some of Fairweather’s solos are mesmerizing. Holy Roller, Captain Hi-Top and Come Bite the Apple are a few of these tracks where Fairweather is most impressive. The ballads from Apple, are Stargazer, Gentle Groove, Crown of Thorns and Man of Golden Words (the song in which the name Temple of the dog originated) . Wood’s versatility really shines through on these tracks and shows that Mother Love Bone were more than a one trick pony. I’d particularly like to highlight the tender guitar solo in Crown of Thorns, it is perhaps the highlight of the entire CD

The Shine EP was released in 1989 and on this disc are the tracks 14 Thru Fade Away to track 17 Chloe Dancer/Crown of Thorns. The Bonus CD also included the EP version of Capricorn Sister. This compliation album is perhaps your best chance at getting your hands on the Shine EP, having scoured the internet I have found a couple of second hand copies, but if you want to find this EP in the shops forget it. Obviously, I don’t know what the stores are like in the States, but if you are a UK resident like me you will not find it anywhere. Some of the heavier tracks on this CD can be found in the Shine section, though I wouldn’t exactly class them as heavy in comparison with other grunge bands. Ament’s bass line from Thru Fade Away really sets the tone for whats to come as Gossard and Fairweather produce some great hard rock riffs and Wood’s vocals take on a harsher tone. The lyrical content still stays light hearted , but the grunge roots really show through on Shine. Half Assed Monkey Boy and Mind Shaker Meltdown, continue to blend humorous lyrics with dirty hard rock riffage. The album ends with the ballad Chloe Dancer/Crown of Thorns, which sounds pretty similar to a Guns n Roses typical ballad, Wood’s sounds reminiscent of Axl Rose and the piano intro similar to that of November Rain. As you can tell from the title the song blends the lyrics from Chloe Dancer into that of Crown of Thorns, which is good as Crown of Thorns is an excellent song and its really good to hear it twice on the one album.

This isn’t a classic if I am being objective. If my heart ruled my head I would give it a 5/5, however I must rate it on the same scale as I have all others so I will give it a 3.5. I would advise anyone who doesn’t know of Mother Love Bone, but likes grunge – particularly Pearl Jam. If you are a fan of the Seattle scene or a collector of grunge (there are some out there I know) this is a crucial part of the jigsaw puzzle. This is not some small side project band, yes they all had success outside of Mother Love Bone, and had used this band to have fun, but make no bones about it, they were on the road to mega stardom. Another good reason to purchase this particular CD is that it contains all Mother Love Bone's released tracks - all, but one! Zanzibar from Shine is for some reason left out, could/should have been put on the bonus disc, but it isnt! If you can find the Shine EP good luck... however for us lazier collectors get this CD you really will not be let down!

Recommended tracks: Captain Hi-Top, Come Bite the Apple, Thru Fade Away and Crown of Thorns

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user ratings (106)

Comments:Add a Comment 
January 24th 2007


Nice work.
I may look into this band but right now I'm going to focus on my neil young/nick drake binge.

January 25th 2007


Album Rating: 3.5

hey mr kite thanks for your comment - seems like Mother Love Bone got no love last night lol yeh you should definately look into these guys sometime - if u download get Crown of Thorns first - first song I heard was This is Shangri-la and i was left thinking I may not get into this... anywho i'm rambling enjoy your Neil Young/Nick Drake binge!

January 25th 2007


Album Rating: 3.5

Wow I didnt know he was a Kiss fan, I knew he liked Aerosmith which i found a bit odd... but then I like aerosmith and nirvana so i cant talk. Thanks for the input Plath - I agree with you bout the has alot of songs that pass you by I would of give it at most 4.5 if it werent for that fact

January 25th 2007


I never knew he was a KISS fan but oddly enough it doesn't surprise me.

January 25th 2007


This band is one of the few grunge groups I haven't yet heard.

February 19th 2007


I don't really like Chloe Dancer. I knew it sounded like something and when I re-read the review I was like Guns N Roses, that's it.

February 20th 2007


Album Rating: 3.5

Glad your agree it sounds like GnR, Crown of Thorns is good, I just dont see why they had to add Chloe Dancer to the beginning of it!

April 19th 2008


Album Rating: 4.5

I like this album, have so many influences and it developed into a great band, Pearl Jam.

January 3rd 2009


The person who wrote the article above ,tried to be some ''pro critic'' or whatever, only to diservice Mother Love Bone.For starters saying Andrew Wood and Layne Staley sang alike is apple to oranges, and to say they remind someone of Robert Plant,or Ian Gillian Shooooo !!! Nobody ,Nobody with any sense of an ear for music would make those comparisons. I'm not putting one over the other here [even as easy as that could be,with vocal range differing so much] But Andrew Wood easily falls more next to David Lee Roth, Layne Staley really stands alone but his range sets him far from Wood, their styles are so far apart why even begin an article with such lame comparisons.I like every Vocalist you mentioned but they are all planets apart musically I think that took all the wind out of your attempt to be a ''music critic'' or whatever else you think you are.

March 25th 2009


Album Rating: 4.0

One of my favourite albums ever. Every song is amazing, combining glam and grunge music together to create an altogether amazing album.

September 10th 2009


Album Rating: 4.0

I agree with Splat Out Immense, it is a hit and miss album. Mostly hits though. And those hits are amazing. I give it a 4, because there are too many songs that I skip on the album.

September 10th 2009


you're no mynameischan

September 10th 2009


Album Rating: 4.0

Haha. I wasn't trying to be. The username I usually use wouldn't fit and I didn't feel like being creative so I just went with that.

June 23rd 2012


this band's so fucking awesome

May 2nd 2014


If this would have been released in the early-mid '80s it would've been huge

really dig Man of Golden Words

June 18th 2014


Just picked this up. Great review. I'm already digging 'crown of thorns'. On the flip side, I can see
what you mean when you said that this album hasn't aged all that well. Still a great pick-up. Pos'd.

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