Sunday, November 1, 2009

Mother Love Bone - Mother Love Bone

When people talk about Mother Love Bone (the subject of tonight's "album spotlight"), the first thing that's usually mentioned is the group's place in the storied Pearl Jam lineage.

Since the days of the post-1991 grunge explosion, Mother Love Bone have often been mentioned as a mere stepping stone for MLB founders Stone Gossard's & Jeff Ament's eventual success with their current (and long-lived), multi-platinum selling group.

This name dropping is fortunate, as it has led many fans (myself included) to seek out Mother Love Bone's work; it's also unfortunate in that it tends to cast the band in a trivial light, rather than acknowledging them for the uniquely talented act they were.

I can still remember the first time I heard Mother Love Bone's self-titled musical retrospective. Sitting on the floor of my friend Matt's bedroom at 13, rifling through pictures and liner notes of the group's then recently issued 2 disc collection. It was just another day of hanging out, and broadening our musical education with an exciting new album.

Hearing many of the tracks that had filled the Shine EP and their sole full-length, Apple, for the first time, along with the story of the band's place in the still-developing picture of the "Seattle Scene", I was both converted and sad. Here was another amazing group felled by tragedy: in this case, the death of lead singer Andrew Wood from a heroin overdose.

And what a lead singer. Some adjectives that come to mind when describing MLB frontman, Andy Wood: talented, charismatic, brilliant, showman. All words that have been used many times before by his contemporaries, fans, and friends.

Seattle recording engineer Jack Endino famously called Andy, "
the only stand-up comedian frontman in Seattle". As playful and amusing as Wood could be on record, I can only imagine what it would have been like to see MLB live on a night when both the band and singer were truly on. Wood's out-front glam rock posturing and channeling of musical heroes like Freddie Mercury and Marc Bolan were worlds away from the sounds and style of MLB's darker, grunge contemporaries, but everyone seemed to love the band anyway.

Amazingly, for a group that had come together less than two years earlier (in 1988), the songs on Mother Love Bone's (posthumously issued) Apple LP sound as though they come from a group whose vision is almost fully formed.

While not all of the tracks are standouts, and some more or less standard period rock stomps populate Apple and the band's self-titled 2 disc set, there are also some incredible highlights within. Arena-ready cuts like opener, "This is Shangri-La", coincide with gentle ballads and the introspective beauty of "Bone China", and "Crown of Thorns". This was a band ready for, and worthy of, their shot at the big time.

Enough said: let's listen and hear what Mother Love Bone has to offer. Love rock awaits you people!


  1. Hey, I'm Matt!!! That was MY floor!
    "You know he's half a shadow... God, don't let that be me!"

  2. MP for the win! That room also doubled as "Wild Deerfield" film production studio, remember?