A Second Helping of Melon, With Kazoo







When a rock band follows up a gigantic rookie success by hiring a New Orleans-style brass band to open its second album, you’ve got a group trying hard not to be pigeonholed. Too hard, in this case. On album No. 2, Blind Melon--you know, the “Bee Girl” video band--also pulls out such atypical touches as kazoos and banjos (on “Skinned,” a punny tribute to serial sicko Ed Gein), Mediterranean violin and folkie mandolin for what cooks up as a maddening minestrone.

When the group simply concentrates on what it does best, it comes off pretty well. Tops is “Toes Across the Floor,” which achieves a psychedelic grandeur recalling vintage Jefferson Airplane mixed with some Guns N’ Roses-Led Zeppelin power--though Shannon Hoon’s strained voice is closer to that of Perry Farrell or Yes’ Jon Anderson than Grace Slick. Even the solid songs, though, are weighed down by time and tempo changes that at times are enticing but too often seem gratuitous.

The lyrics don’t help much. When not sinking to obscurity, if not banality (as in such lines as “Nothing’s ever gonna come between my dumptruck and me”), Hoon generally sings about establishing personal identity and space. With all the musical flitting about, that’s exactly what Blind Melon fails to do.