photo manipulation & text by nacrowe
in the popular consciousness, the brief two-year run of THE JON STEWART SHOW (MTV, 1993-1995) is best remembered as the cursory introduction of arguably one of the SEMINAL comedic and political voices in AMERICA LIFE. it is not hyperbole to put the continued social-political impact of JON STEWART up there with GEORGE CARLIN, MARK TWAIN or even THOMAS PAINE. he is an institution unto himself and it is great that he has had a bit of a resurgence with his THE PROBLEM WITH JON STEWART (APPLE TV+, 2001-present) program in recent years.
but THE JON STEWART SHOW was really just a RUN-OF-THE-MILL talk show on MTV, which a the time was still playing music videos in heavy rotation and was in the early years of developing and perfecting what would become its highly INFLUENTIAL and PROFITABLE REALITY TV formula via BUNIM/MURRAY PRODUCTIONS. in retrospect, one aspect of the show that absolutely flourished was its live ECLECTIC mix of musical guests which ranged from INDIE ROCK (DINOSAUR JR, GUIDED BY VOICES, BELLY, JULIANA HATFIELD) and POST HARDCORE (QUICKSAND, SUNNY DAY REAL ESTATE) luminaries and METAL (SLAYER, MARILYN MANSON) veterans to UPSTART ALTERNATIVE ROCK (FAITH NO MORE, BLIND MELON, HUM, THE BREEDERS, OASIS, HELMET) bands. and the list really does goes on.
it is really IMPRESSIVE the amount of great bands that THE JON STEWART SHOW presented to the world during what are arguably their peak creative years. definitely something worth checking out.
one of the most affecting documentaries i have experienced in recent years, ALL I CAN SAY (OSCILLOSCOPE LABORATORIES, 2019) was directed and edited by DANNY CLINCH, TARYN GOULD and COLLEEN HENNESSY and is essentially a film edited from the personal archive of camcorder video footage BLIND MELON frontman SHANNON HOON shot in the final 5 years of his life. this period included his time pre-fame in INDIANA, before he moved to LOS ANGELES and eventually formed the beloved ALTERNATIVE ROCK band. the film is effectively shot and narrated by HOON which provides a singular experience.
and what makes this film so impactful specifically is its INTIMACY. quite definitively you are witnessing HOON's point-of-view in real-time. it is a uniquely voyeuristic situation that he devised as a means of documenting his own experiences for later PERSONAL CONSUMPTION. what you are witnessing is essentially HOON's VIDEO DIARY. its an entirely singular experience gifted to us by a major recording artist. what comes across is his deep affection for his parents, his girlfriend, his young daughter, his band and his fans. not surprisingly he was a charismatic person and a talented songwriter, which only compounds the tragedy of his passing.
you also get a firsthand look at fame and how it inevitably affects ones sense of self-perception. the video which garnered him specifically so much fame and respect, "NO RAIN" off of BLIND MELON (CAPITOL, 1992), also effectively limited his public persona. for a talent who was such a free-spirit, this felt trying as many of the interview footage attests. its a similar trajectory to that of NIRVANA and "SMELLS LIKE TEEN SPIRIT." in the film HOON makes known how much KURT COBAIN's death impacted him, even making its way into lyrics for the title song "SOUP" off of their second record SOUP (CAPITOL, 1995). the fact that his passing similarly left the world another baby girl derived of a father just makes his death seemingly unbearable. and preventable.
this is an incredible film that only further enhances the legacy of HOON. if anything this film is very much a masterstroke in editing. one that i will definitely revisit in the future.
during my 1990s childhood in SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA, there were two songs i remember hearing on the ALTERNATIVE ROCK station 106.7 KROQ and having absolutely no clue who sang them. in those days there was no SHAZAM app or internet and the only way to learn was if the DJ felt like mentioning it. the first song i learned years later was NIRVANA's haunting "SAPPY." the other was STONE TEMPLE PILOT's laid-back, harrowing cover of LED ZEPPELIN's "DANCING DAYS" on the ENCOMIUM: A TRIBUTE TO LED ZEPPELIN (ATLANTIC, 1995) tribute compilation.
that cover in particular is probably one of SCOTT WEILAND's great performances and showcases a charisma and preternatural ability to shine when the focus very much is on him and his voice. he comes off both assured and insular and transforms a celebratory anthem into something entirely different, something excruciatingly introspective. i should also mention that guitarist DEAN DELEO has some righteous slide work on the track which only heightens that haunting, reflective vibe.
when revisiting this compilation recently, i was struck by the quality of other vocal performances by the likes of LINDA PERRY (4 NON BLONDES), SHANNON HOON (BLIND MELON) HENRY ROLLINS (ROLLINS BAND) and DAVID YOW (THE JESUS LIZARD here collaborating with HELMET), which all point to the dynamic and versatile quality of the songwriting and the poetic lyricism of JIMMY PAGE and ROBERT PLANT. just the fact that this material can be interpreted convincingly by such disparate artists is pretty remarkable. that is not to say that there arent some forgettable, less-than-stellar duds from the likes of HOOTIE & THE BLOWFISH, SHERYL CROW, CRACKER and DURAN DURAN, remember this was put out by ATLANTIC RECORDS with largely its then-current roster of artists. maybe this was a calculated effort to draw attention to LED ZEPPELIN's back catalogue as PAGE & PLANT where reestablishing their recording and touring career at the time as a duo. could be that this compilation was a marketing ploy, but with the solid aforementioned contributions, i dont believe it was a fruitless exercise in the least.
ENCOMIUM is definitely worth checking out if you are a LED ZEPPELIN aficionado or even a fan of SCOTT WEILAND or SHANNON HOON. definitely two captivating performances by the two at a point in their creative careers when they were firing on all cylinders. REST IN PEACE to both.
i always felt that there was a deep spiritual quality to the music of BLIND MELON. a big part of that was due to the free-spirited, ethereal nature of frontman SHANNON HOON and his preternatural ability to give off a feeling of unadulterated joy and wonder about life in his lyrics and in his voice.
the classic self-titled debut BLIND MELON (CAPITOL, 1992) record is a case in point, with tracks like "TONES OF HOME," "CHANGE" and of course "NO RAIN" showing off his emotional range. for what is largely pegged as an ALTERNATIVE ROCK outfit, their music itself feels more aligned to "jam bands" of the period like BLUES TRAVELER, PHISH and even DAVE MATHEWS BAND. the big difference is HOON, who is arguably one of the most charismatic frontman of the period. up there with LAYNE STALEY, CHRIS CORNELL, MIKE PATTON, EDDIE VEDDER, COURTNEY LOVE, SCOTT WEILAND and KURT COBAIN yet entirely a unique entity and feel unto himself. whereas those other "jam bands" in my opinion came off a bit too listless and technical for my taste, with HOON that meandering aural backdrop took on a more searching, INCORPOREAL quality that made it singularly TRANSCENDENT. when i think of him, its almost more along the lines of a shaman than a frontman. his passing has left a void that has yet to be filled to date.
like many kids of the period, my introduction to the band was "NO RAIN" and its genius music video which celebrated individualism and the need for INCLUSIVENESS and EMPATHY to one another. not exactly standard rock fair at the time. it also set the stage for the even more experimental and emotionally wrenching follow-up record SOUP (CAPITOL, 1995) which i hope to review someday after locating a cassette tape. both of those records are unquestionably required listening to get an idea of the full spectrum of flavors of ALTERNATIVE ROCK in the 1990s. it was great time for music.
RIP SHANNON. you are still remembered and dearly missed.
photo manipulation by nacrowe
its really cool the stuff that is being released on YOUTUBE these days. since 1987 the DUTCH television live performance series 2 METER SESSIONS has been film/recording/mixing one session a week of upcoming musical talent. as you can imagine, the variety and scope of these recordings has grown immeasurably over the years and there has been a slow trickle via their YOUTUBE channel releasing the more memorable performances.
everything from BURNING SPEAR, BECK and YEASAYER to SEPULTURA, NADA SURF and even NIRVANA.
definitely look these vintage performances up if you have the inclination. definitely worth the effort.