The fatal cocaine overdose of Blind Melon lead singer Shannon Hoon
over a year ago barely caused a ripple in newspaper terms. (He actually
made bigger headlines when he urinated on stage during a Vancouver
concert.) Maybe because, to put it crassly, Hoon was no Kurt Cobain.
But in human terms, he left behind a young daughter who was all of 13
weeks old when her father died. So it seems right that her namesake
graces the title of Blind Melon's last, and possibly best,
album, which hits record stores Tuesday as an enhanced CD with lyrics,
previously unreleased photos, interviews, concert footage and videos.
The remaining group members, under a new band name, have already said
they are looking for a new singer, so this collection of live tracks,
demo versions and unreleased songs is Blind Melon's poignant swan song.
The first single, a cover of Steppenwolf's 'The Pusher', is actually a
pretty decent version, if you can make it past Hoon (sounding like a
cross between Perry Farrell and Robert Plant) singing: "You know
I've smoked a lot of grass and I've popped a lot of pills but I've
never done nothing that my spirit couldn't kill, and I walk around with
these tombstones in my eyes but I know the pusher don't care if you
live or if you die." There's also similarly prophetic lyrics in the Hoon-penned tracks 'Pull', 'Swallowed' and the self-explanatory 'Hell', so be prepared to feel uncomfortable.
It certainly helps knowing that a percentage of the sales from 'Nico'
will go to the Musician's Assistance Program for musicians who can't
afford drug treatment.
Hoon also takes on a cover of John Lennon's
'John Sinclair', which was originally destined for a Lennon tribute
album, plus 'All That I Need', which Hoon wrote after reading the
Albert Goldman book, 'Lives Of John Lennon'.
Fans of the band's
biggest hit, 'No Rain', can look forward to a slowed-down,
stripped-away version that was recorded during a performance for
Holland TV, while the final track, 'Letters From A Porcupine', is
actually Hoon singing on bandmate Christopher Thorn's answering machine with his acoustic guitar, before he is spookily cut off.