So here it is, the legendary Apple, Mother Love Bone’s sole album. You can read more of the band’s history in my review of their EP leading into this, Shine. The short version is that charismatic lead singer Andrew Wood died shortly before this album was scheduled to be released in March of 1990. The album was postponed until July. Then Temple Of The Dog. Then Pearl Jam. History.
It’s a great album, rivaling Pearl Jam’s best (which, for the record, is Ten). As I said with regard to Shine, you know “Crown Of Thorns” from the Singles soundtrack, but for my money the band is best on the uptempo tracks (e.g., “Come Bite The Apple,” “This Is Shangri-La”) which takes nothing away from the fantastic slower tracks (“Gentle Groove,” “Stargazer”). The disc loses half a clown due to some clunky lyrics here and there (which is surprising given how fantastically vivid the lyrics are throughout), most notably on “Man Of Golden Words” and “Holy Roller.”
It’s a testament to the talents of guitarist Stone Gossard and bassist Jeff Ament that they went from Green River to Mother Love Bone to Pearl Jam, able to support those three very different lead singers each doing their own thing.
The album stands up well 25 (!) years later. Many have suggested this give a glimpse into an alternate history where instead of heading the grunge/alternative path we go on this glam/alternative path. With Mother Love Bone instead of Pearl Jam, things would have been quite different, but you still would have had Nevermind, Facelift, and Badmotorfinger. Personally, I prefer to just appreciate this as a really nice little recording of a place and time that was amazing and fleeting and sits chronologically right at a point where the music industry was about to get its feet pulled out from under it. Everybody thought Andrew Wood was going to do that…nobody is thinking about Kurt Cobain here. It’s just an amazing document with that perspective, and a hell of a listen even without it.
Mix: “Stardog Champion,” “Come Bite The Apple,” “Stargazer”
Love: “This Is Shangri-La”
Really Like: “Holy Roller,” “Heartshine,” “Capricorn Sister,” “Gentle Groove,” “Mr. Danny Boy,” “Crown Of Thorns”
Like: “Bone China,” “Captain Hi-Top,” “Man Of Golden Words”
Filed Between: Mother Love Bone’s Shine and Stardog Champion
Song Notes: After the jump
- This Is Shangri-La
- Stardog Champion
- Holy Roller – great guitar interplay. That dumb soup talking part, there’s too much of a lead in, like he has so idea what he’s going to say. Too much talkie for so little content.
- Bone China
- Come Bite The Apple – a hard groove. Probably my fave on the album.
- Stargazer – great lyrics
- Heartshine –
- Captain Hi-Top – “[I’m] the official inseminator of the female population.”
- Man Of Golden Words – the bridge is barf “Words and music/My only tools/Communication” – Blegh.
- Capricorn Sister – This and “Crown Of Thorns” are the two that have different versions on Shine
- Gentle Groove – if you don’t mix this up with “Man Of Golden Words” it’s awesome. Except I always mix the two up
- Mr. Danny Boy – “Stop lovin’ by the rules” Starts dark in a Green River way.
- Crown Of Thorns