Blues Traveler
Travelers & Thieves



by Badmoon USER (65 Reviews)
January 14th, 2005 | 8 replies

Release Date: 1991 | Tracklist

Blues Traveler - Travelers & Thieves

John Popper - Vocals, Harmonica
Chan Kinchla - Guitar
Brendan Hill - Drums
Tad Kinchla - Bass
Ben Wilson - Keyboards

Released: 1991

Few bands of any decades or of any genre are as distinctive, and easy to point out before the vocals even come in. Some may be Van Halen, The Red Hot Chili Peppers, Captain Beefheart, Primus, Jimi Hendrix, Black Sabbath, ect. I always found that Blues Traveler fell into that type of list just as well as any of those other bands do. I do not know exactly why. It could be Popper's high pitched aggresive harmonica playing. It could be Chan's Metal like guitar playing. Or it can be the whole bands ocasional heavy sound, yet at the same time being very melodic. Which few bands actually get away with, one being King's X.

Travelers & Thieves is one of those albums that only does good for the band who released it. It has heavy songs, it has light songs, it has jams, it has single lengthed songs, lets just say it has a wide variety of songs. Hopefully the review or album will show you that they are one of the most underrated Rock bands, let alone Jam Bands.

The Tiding
This track is strickly a fill, probably put there just to start off the album in an odd way. It is basically mix of strange noises problem from the keyboard, a few hits of the toms, a chord or two, and a few breaths into the harmonica. Quite interesting, yet unneeded. 3/5

"Onslaught" is opened with a great bass line, which will soon bring in each other instrument. The song's verses may be the heaviest on the album. The chorus is actually quite light and very catchy. It's songs like these that show off Popper's vocal talent, which I believe he has plenty of. Overall, other than its heavy verses, the song is like many other Blues Traveler songs. Which include great harmonica playing, extremely great guitar work, and fabulous work from the rythm section. 4.5/5

Ivory Tusk
Here is a number with a fantastic groove, which is lead by various chords from Chan. There is slightly a large anticipation awaiting the chorus, similar to The Black Crowes's Otis Redding cover of "Hard to Handle". Though the chorus, isn't as catchy or as good as the verses in my opinion. The song includes a great harmonica solo, and extrodinary guitar solo, some great beats and bass lines, and some very interesting lyrics. Whenever I listen or hear this song it reminds me of The Barenaked Ladies. Popper's voice is very similar to their lead singer. 4/5

What's for Breakfast
This song has a very urban feel to it. I'm guessing it's the muting and strumming patterns by Kinchla. Kinchala also has one of his best solos on this album on this track. His style is very similar to Veron Reid's of Living Colour. Almost over the top, and very chaotic. Popper throughout the songs thows some interesting on the sinde lines. Like "Gotta wake up and smell the collective coffee if ya know what I'm saying". Great song. 5/5

I Have my Moments
"I Have my Moments" has some great drumming, which is commonly overlooked by the harmonica playing, and the guitar playing. I really like the chorus, thought I always seems to get stuck in my head. It is simply "I have my moments, now and again". Chan gives off an excellent solo like usual and it does the song no wrong. I really like the songs melody, which isn't seen that much. Too much emphysis on distortion and going over the top. 3.5/5

Optimistic Thoughts
"Optimistic Thoughts" is without a doubt my favorite Blues Traveler song. Every thing is perfect and catchy as hell. It has a fantastic harmonica lick that the chorus is based on. The drumming is perfectly matched up with the bass playing and the harmonica playing. And then on top of all of this perfection, the guitarist gives of a fabulous solo to macth with the main harmonica lick. I actually think this song was played on The Adventures of Pete and Pete back when it was still played. 5/5

The Best Part
This drum driven track is quite soulful. Of course most the soul comes from Popper's voice, which always seeses to amaze me. Most of the lyrics are sang in unisin and Chan actually uses a 12 string acoustic, and then gives some great interludes, as does the bass. Soon enough he switches to electric and thows a small solo into the mix. 3.5/5

Sweet Pain
Here is another acoustic with some electric lead. I can always imagine this band playing in a coffee house some where. Which is good, because it shows that the band has not been corupted by fame, and aren't necessarily trying to make it into the mainstream. The lyrics tell a story of pain obviously, and Popper sings like he is going throught it. There is also yet another 12 string acoustic solo, which is very unique and slightly unseen. Popper on top of singing with great emotion, thows insome skat, which is alway interesting. Good song. 4.5/5

All in the Groove
Here inlies the best harmonica work on the album. Extrodinarly Bluesy, and includes a fabulous groove. The rambling type of lyrics, keeps the song interesting and keeps it from going stale and boring. Overall, the song contain each element Blues Traveler uses to make a great song. 4/5

Support your Local Emperor
The rapid yet leisurly playing makes this song sound both Reggae like and Beach Rock like, and of course with a touch of Blues added into the forumla. I really like the title and the subject of this song, very weird and odd. A fantastic bass line is used to lead "Support your Local Emperor". It's very hard to describe, as is the band. So, I'll just say it's mediocre compared to other tracks on this album. 2.5/5

"Bageera", is led by a catchy guitar riff, that plays out for a good amount of time. The drummer, Brendan, does some great work on this track. He's quite good with the hi-hat and the bass drum. And of course the song contains some good harmonica solos, and decent if not great bass lines. All timed perfect and very aggressive and rapid like. Like most songs also, Popper throws in some interesting skat, which just adds to his great musicianship and the blues feeling.

Mountain Cry
"Mountain Cry" would be the longest jam on Travelers & Thieves. As you may have seen or heard, Blues Traveler are a Jam Band, but they do not necessarily jam for long periods of time (With the exception of this song). They more squeeze in jams into regular lengthed songs, which is actually quite difficult. Of course the band heavily relies on their live shows, and are strongly based around influence, which also makes them a Jam Band, but when it comes down to it, it's all about the complete bands jams. Well, this track is extremely passionate and it is easy to see The Allman Brothers influence in the song as a whole. Other than the two, lack of harmonica, and much slide guitar playing, Blues Traveler are very similar to The Allman Brothers. They do all forms of songs, and put tons of work and passion into them. And here is the example, the passion and feeling in this song is so high and noticable. Definatley deserves a 5/5

Overall, this is a fabulous album and I would reccomend anyone to buy it. But there are a few Blues Traveler albums I like more. So, I do want to give it a 5/5, but I'll just give it a 4.9/5.

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user ratings (16)

Comments:Add a Comment 
June 26th 2004


I just bought the cd after reading your review. It's a great cd. I've seen Blues Traveler in concert twice. They are awesome. Good Review.

December 28th 2004


Yeah awesome review I really took the time to chill out and listen to this CD it's great. Some say it just has good bookends but I strongly disagree, every part of the CD has great material. Awesome review of an awesome CD.

smoke a bowl dig a hole
December 31st 2004


decent review.

December 31st 2004


Optimistic Thought is an unbelievably good song.

February 18th 2005


Why is this categorized as Blues Rock? (along with their other cd?)

February 19th 2005


Well, it is Blues Rock, and back then I never commonly labeled an album as "Jam Rock" or "Jam Band".

March 8th 2006


Fantastic album.

Good review, but you got a bit of information wrong. Tad Kinchla didn't join the band until the late 90's when original bassist Bobby Sheehan died. I believe that's also when Ben Wilson joined making Blues Traveler a five piece band.

Before that, although most of their albums had featured keyboards on several songs with guest musicians, keyboards had never been an integral part of the band.

December 24th 2013


Album Rating: 4.0

I downloaded the Red Rocks concert where they played this in full off of Wow, what a great concert! Blues Traveler are probably my favorite live band. Although I've never been to one of their concerts in person, I've downloaded probably a dozen of them off of archive. I've got to get around to attending one of their concerts these days.

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