Blues Traveler



by RottedFlesh USER (9 Reviews)
September 15th, 2006 | 15 replies

Release Date: 1994 | Tracklist

Review Summary: A great band with alot of energy. Popper's vocal display shows alot of range and the harmonica is some of the best you will ever here and is often comlimented by some surprisingly technical guitar riffs and solos. The rythm section is also impressive. The

Blues Traveler: Four

Band Members:
John Popper- Vocals, Harmonica
Chan Kinchla- Guitar
Bobby Sheehan- Bass
Brendan Hill- Drums

Ever heard that old musical proverb “They sound better live”? I know you have. But often when people say it holds no meaning. It sometimes even sounds like justification for a band you like making a sub-par album. Well guys, here is a time saying is going to apply. The Blues Travelers are a great band and this is a great C.D. But they suffer from a plague that has afflicted the album of every great “jam” band. This album just cannot capture the full essence of a live performance. I know it doesn’t! I remember awhile back when I first heard the band in my dad’s truck he told me I needed to see them live.

Luckily for me my dad was a big Blues Travelers fan and took me to a show in my humble hometown of Jacksonville (YES! I will eventually write a Lynyrd Skynyrd review!). It was at the good ol’ Freebird Café’ and these guys really bring “it” live. There’s no gimmicks, no grotesque masks, no fire, no face paint, and sure as hell no “planned” set-list. These guys are just purely running on the vibe from their music. It’s like their instruments produce a flow of free energy that they’ve masterfully learned to harness.

Don’t let the standard misconceptions about them being “blues” fool you. I honestly wouldn’t even call this pure blues. They are basically a rock jam band with harmonica and that harmonica is the album’s selling point. John Popper is certainly one of the best harmonica players I’ve ever heard. His blistering fast harmonica solos and his manic high-pitched vocals really create their signature sound. The other band members also are great as well. Guitarist Chan Kinchla and Popper compliment each other very well, dueling back and forth on several tracks. Kinchla even throw out some impressive guitar solos. The rhythm section is superb with Drummer Brendan Hill keeping pace with the bands spastic flow. Bobby Sheehan is great and some of his riffs really “make” the songs. Really the best band to compare them to is the Dave Mathews Band, though the similarities are thin.


Freedom- Definantly the hardest song on the whole album. Closest thing to metal the band has ever put out imo. Popper seems to grunt out his vocals and stretches his voice until it shakes. The Guitar and harmonica are in full support of each other here and the dueling harmonica/guitar solo is fascinating. It's just so different sounding.

Fallible- This song opens up with some insane harmonica then kicks into a more laid-back guitar riff while Popper sings. The guitar sound really funky here. This continues for a while then there’s a breakdown in the guitar as is speeds up really quick and flows into one of Popper’s signature harmonica solos and then moves into some more guitar.

Price To Pay- This song opens up with some bluesy harmonica. The guitar starts out very subtle and being backed up by some piano as it slowly becomes harder and harder. The guitar starts to sound very distorted at the apex of this upswing. The song shifts back and froth between the blues style to the harder psychedelic style. The song then fades away on the harmonica. This song never becomes fast but remains very unique from the rest of the album.

Hook- This one of the bands more popular tracks and got some airtime, though not as much as Run-Around. It starts out pretty slow with some lightly played poppy sounding guitar. It’s actually a lot like Dave Mathews Band. The bass line is again very prevalent. Popper’s rapid vocal shifts are what make this song a highlight. It carries on at this cool lazy pace for awhile until after a harmonica rampage Popper barrages you with some fast vocals, unleashing all the lyrical fury against M.T.V., saying “I wanna bust all your balloons, I wanna burn all your cities” and insults “hip three minute ditties.”

Brother John- This song open up with some really country-fried harmonica. The bass line in the back is really fast. Steve Harris fast even. It sticks out this whole song. After about a minutes of vocals Kinchla lets loose a acid tinged guitar solo and for a few seconds after word Popper spits out some lyrics like a madman then resumes the songs “laid-back” pace. Then Popper goes on a tangent as the rest of the band picks up speed again. They go back in forth from this fast to slow pace a couple more times and then a gospel-like chorus starts to back Popper’s vocals up. He then starts screaming out with more choir-like backing vocals as the band gallops its way to the song abruptly ending. Supposedly this song is about Sheehan’s drug addict brother whom the bad desperately wanted to change his bands. Best track on the album.

Though I'd honestly love to give this album, I wont let my bias override the rating. I won't give it a Four becuase this both isn't there best album and they HAVE to be seen live to comprehend the full scope of the music.

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user ratings (103)

Comments:Add a Comment 
September 15th 2006


Album Rating: 3.5

This album certainly has a bit more personal weight than the other one's i reviewed. So if the review sounds more personal thats why...I also tried a different approach to how i reviewed it (the Stand-outs). I felt that my other reviews seemed a bit too focused on talking about tracks individually rather than summing up the C.D. Tell me what yall think ^_^This Message Edited On 09.16.06

September 16th 2006


Album Rating: 3.5

The more I look at this review the worse it seems. I'll stick with the style of my first two reviews.

September 30th 2006


Album Rating: 3.5

Blues Traveler is one of those bands that made 90s alternative rock golden. Good Review.

dub sean
April 30th 2008


Album Rating: 3.5

Because the hooooook brings you baaaaaack

I love me some Blues Traveler.

November 26th 2010


Album Rating: 3.0

CRAZY harmonica skills!!

Activista anti-MTV
September 25th 2011


Some standouts on this record

February 20th 2014


Why do you wanna give me the run around?

May 15th 2015


Album Rating: 5.0

I had this on a cassette. It's a classic.

August 5th 2015


Album Rating: 3.5

I think everyone who was alive in the 90s owns a copy of this in some form. Shit any time I see one of the older jukeboxes with CDs there's always, always a copy of this album in it.

I have a love hate relationship with this band and album. Currently I'm in the "love" stage, but that very well could be because I'm drunk.

Also, was there some issue the record company had with Popper's appearance/weight? Cause I'm watching the video for Run Around and they literally have an entirely different band of actors acting like they're playing the song and it's weird as fuck. The real band pops up every so often for like two seconds but you can barely even see them.

Popper sure can shred that fuckin' harmonica into pieces though. Dude is a maestro.

November 4th 2016



I don't know if it was an issue with the record company, but Popper was very frustrated with the music industry's focus on a band's look. The idea behind the video was that the actors were stand-ins for the real band, who were actually playing the song behind the curtain. Blues Traveler weren't being shown as themselves because they weren't attractive enough, and image is what sells the band as opposed to their music.

Or something like that.

Anyways, Hook is a jam. One of my 90s staples.

April 6th 2017


The rythm section is also impressive. The

Staff Reviewer
November 12th 2020


haha how does this have like 10 comments when it’s the album with “run-around” on it. Or was that just a staple in my house

November 12th 2020



August 24th 2022



February 6th 2023


Album Rating: 2.5

when all it does is suh-loooooowww me down

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