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Blind Melon - Letters From a Porcupine Print E-mail
Tuesday, 11 September 2001

Blind Melon: Letters From A Porcupine

Capitol Records DVD
MPAA rating: NR
starring: Shannon Hoon, Christopher Thorn, Brad Smith, Glenn Graham, Terry Stevens, Andy Wallace
release year: 2001
film rating: Four Stars
sound/picture: Four Stars
reviewed by: Bryan Dailey

The day Chris Farley, wearing a bumblebee girl outfit, introduced Blind Melon on "Saturday Night Live," it was official. Blind Melon had made the big time. In a few short months, this band of North Carolina alterna-rockers was thrust into the spotlight, thanks to their single "No Rain" being in constant rotation on the radio and MTV. It was too much fame, too fast for lead singer Shannon Hoon, who after repeated trouble with the law, and battles with drug addiction, died of an accidental cocaine overdose on October 21,1995. As a tribute to Hoon, the remaining members of Blind Melon and Capitol Records released "Letters from a Porcupine" in 1996 on VHS and received a Grammy nomination for Best Long Form Video. The new special edition DVD release of "Letters From a Porcupine" has been spiffed up with additional footage and bonus features, including all eight of Blind Melon’s video clips, interviews with the band members talking about their multi-platinum debut album, the follow-up Soup, and Nico, the Enhanced CD released after Hoon's death. The disc also has the ability to play several audio tracks from each of Blind Melon’s studio albums.

Because the band was tagged with the "one-hit-wonder" label after success of ‘No Rain," the incredible musical talent of Blind Melon has been overlooked. The bulk of this DVD is the 82-minute documentary, including a video montage dedicated to Shannon Hoon. It is filled with clips of the band in various live performances, home videos of the band at parties, in the studio, and other day-to-day events filmed with a regular video camera by friends and family. It’s reminiscent of the VH1 Behind the Music series and celebrates the good parts of Hoon’s life, rather than dwelling on the negatives.

Another documentary on the DVD focuses on the making of the incredible sophomore album Soup, produced by Andy Wallace (Faith No More, Slayer, Sepeltura). Blind Melon went to New Orleans to a funky old mansion that was converted into a recording studio to get a cool "vibe" for Soup. "Letters from a Porcupine" gives the viewer some insight into the recording process, but not from an overly technical standpoint.

The sound quality of the 19 live performances on "Letters From a Porcupine" spans the entire spectrum. The band’s live performance at Woodstock is spotty, and some of the live club performances aren’t mixed as well as they could have been, but the band’s level of talent never ceases to shine through, even in the worst-sounding venues. Some of the better sounding clips include Blind Melon’s performance of "Change" on The Late Show with David Letterman, "No Rain" on Saturday Night Live and their appearance on Canada's MuchMusic, where they played the songs "Lemonade" and "St. Andrew's Fall." The video quality is all over the place, but this to be expected on an documentary that pulls from so many different sources.

Where this DVD stumbles is in the menus and navigation of the actual disc. The menus are a tad corny and the Blind Melon musical riffs that play in the background are overly repetitive. The main documentary is not broken into separate chapters, so if you want to see one of the performances in the middle of the main documentary, you’ll have to fast-forward to it. You can choose the individual music videos you want to watch, but to have the documentary as one long track is a major flaw.

If you aren’t familiar with Blind Melon but like alternative music with a slight "hippie" twist to it, this is the band for you. The dueling guitar work of Terry Stevens and Christopher, the backing vocals and melodic bass work of Brad Smith and Hoon’s distinct raspy vocals are all here. Blind Melon fans that do not have this DVD have a huge void in their collection. It’s a fitting tribute to a band was struck down in the middle of their most creative years. Even though they had faded from the spotlight, it’s painfully apparent to anyone who watches this touching documentary that the best years for Blind Melon had yet to come.

more details
sound format:
Dolby Digital 5.1
aspect ratio(s):
special features: Video History including 8 Blind Melon video clips
comments: email us here...

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