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Blues Traveler
Straight On Till Morning
by Bob Gajarsky
Consumable, National
Jul 31st, 1997

Blues Traveler, with their previous disc four, alienated some longtime fans with their newfound stardom. Just as Deadheads cringed when "Touch of Grey" brought a new breed of fans to their camp - and more recently, when the Spin Doctors went from under-appreciated cultdom to overexposed burnout, thanks to "Two Princes" and "Little Miss Can't Be Wrong" - Blues Traveler's hits "Run-Around" and "Hook" brought with them an almost unwelcome level of success.

Rather than succumb to the sweet smell of pop radio stardom, or return to their roots, Blues Traveler perform as two nearly distinct bands on their followup disc, Straight On Till Morning.

On one hand, this disc takes the the band back to their H.O.R.D.E. days and before, when the jams flowed more freely. The leadoff track and first single, "Carolina Blues", knocks out any initial perceptions that Blues Traveler will 'sell out'.

Instead of crafting the tune for pop radio, this cut owes more to 1970s ZZ Top and Led Zeppelin than the Barenaked Ladies. Other cuts such as "Great Big World" and the all-too-short "Psycho Joe" leave the impression that John Popper would rather play an extended harmonica solo than tinker with the perfect 3 minute song.

However, there's another side to Blues Traveler - the one which notched them a pair of top 40 hits from four. "Canadian Rose" is a softer song, not unlike a more refined "Hook", which could explode on AAA radio. "Most Precarious" represents the upbeat song most likely to make a dent in the pop charts, while another softer ballad, "Yours" also stands a chance at putting Blues Traveler back in the public's eye.

It appears clear that the days of lengthy solos may be reduced from Blues Traveler's arsenal, but not completely forgotten. What remains to see is if the band's longtime fans will support such a split personality - and if the 'pop' fans can appreciate the rawer side of Blues Traveler.