952 - Third Eye Blind 'Third Eye Blind' (1997)

My Rating: 2.00 out of 5
1001 Albums You Must Hear Before You Die: X
Rolling Stone 500 Greatest Albums: X
The Mojo Collection: X

Chart Peak (UK/US): --/25

Favourite Tracks: Graduate, Good For You
Least-Favourite Tracks: Semi-Charmed Life, God Of Wine

If you asked people today to vote for their greatest albums of all-time I wonder what delights we’d find. Some Lady Gaga or Nickelback perhaps? What about Rihanna, Mika & Miley Cyrus? Almost certainly the soundtrack to Mamma Mia The Movie. I shudder at the thought. Fad voting really screws up these lists. If any publisher is thinking of cranking out one of these top 1000 books, my suggestion would be to make all recently-released albums ineligible. Ban all records less than 5 years old & you might get an all-time top 1000 that owes more to genuinely great music & rather less to hype, fashion & the occasional smash-hit single.

So yes, here we go again… much like Sean Mullins, Third Eye Blind owe their appearance in this list to the fact that they scored a mega-hit in the US around the time that the book was being compiled. Is it one of the top 1000 albums ever made? No it’s not. Like Mullins, you won’t find this record in any other of the numerous greatest-ever lists that exist. Of course, that fact doesn’t necessarily mean it’s a bad album. There’s a stack of albums I love that never make it onto any of these lists either but this record is just too ordinary & unoriginal to stake any real claims for greatness.

The album kicks off with Losing A Whole Year. It’s a decent song with strong production, powerful drumming, interesting lyrics but that vocal melody & guitar owe rather too much to Oasis. And the musical magpie is busy elsewhere too; the chorus on Jumper conjures up The Smiths, the middle-eight reminds me of The Police, Motorcycle Drive By cruises firmly into U2 territory. The weak link here seems to be the lead guitarist who seems rather too keen on borrowing ideas from everyone else rather than developing his own individual style. He’s a competent guitarist but I’d argue that the best rock bands need more than that; the riffs here aren’t all that memorable, the solos often bland & wayward, the chord progressions simplistic & predictable.

Which leads us neatly onto Semi-Charmed Life, a Frankenstein’s monster of a song that seems to have been assembled entirely out of other people’s parts. Need a song for the closing credits of American Pie #17? Well here it is. It’s one of those numbers designed to appeal to the most basic of musical responses with a chirpy wordless “doo-dee-doo” chorus and three Major chords that repeat through verse, chorus & middle-8. And it worked… American radio played it to death (i.e., more than 3 times) & it was a huge single hit. [edit: I’ve just found out it was actually featured in the first American Pie movie… so much for sarcasm, eh?]

It’s not all bad though & a track like Graduate shows what Third Eye Blind can do when they’re not chasing universal chart approval. The guitarist finally sorts himself out & knocks out a monster riff with a gurgling, unhinged solo like something off a 70’s album by The Tubes (that’s a good thing by the way). In fact, the band seems to work better when they lose a bit of their polish & tracks like London & Good For You likewise benefit from being a little rougher around the edges. The problem is just that nagging feeling that you’ve heard all this somewhere before. And the bigger problem of course is that you probably have…


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