The Best of Blind Melon takes six tracks each from the eponymous 1992 debut and its follow-up, Soup, pairing them with highlights from the 1996 rarities comp Nico, some unreleased live material, and the band's run-through of "Three Is a Magic Number" from Schoolhouse Rock! Rocks. It's a thorough and worthy retrospective, particularly when you add the available bonus DVD with videos and concert footage. Sure, there was Classic Masters in 2002. But for fans Best Of feels like the one, since it's fully remastered, plays out in order, and includes a thoughtful, even touching liner essay from guitarist Roger Stevens. "I believe we never got to make our best music," he writes. "But I'm happy with the songs that are here." Opener "Tones of Home" begins as a rather typical jammy rocker, but as soon as Shannon Hoon starts singing there's something more, sun-dappled grace alternating with a hard-edged blues wail copped from Robert Plant. "And I always thought this would be/The land of milk and honey/Oh, but I come to find out/That it's all hate and money." Stevens reveals that "Change" was the first song Hoon ever played for the band, and the hit "No Rain" retains its homespun pop jones here, even if it was one of the most played-out tunes of 1992. (Thankfully there are no "What's Bee Girl Doing Now?" vignettes here.) The Soup material is strong too, in particular "Galaxie" and the Hoon/Jena Kraus duet "Mouthful of Cavities," which prove Blind Melon wasn't always about jangling acoustic guitars. The gentle Nico outtake "Soul One" should be in the repertoire of every undergrad coffeehouse guitarist in America, and two live cuts dating from 1993 reveal Blind Melon to be a tight live act, and more raucous than you might remember. And that's what's nice about this set. It helps you remember Blind Melon as a band, beyond the death of their singer or the resonance of one big single.
AllMusic Review by Johnny Loftus