No weak links on this one
C. Leitz | ATL, GA USA | 08/04/2002
(5 out of 5 stars)
"There always seems a point in every Blues Traveler album where the flow is broken and perhaps one or two songs make the cut that probably should not have. No such problems on Travelers & Thieves. This album gets lost in the shuffle when looking at their work as a whole, but many of BT's most cherished songs make their appearance here. John Popper hits his stride as a songwriter on Sweet Pain, Optimistic Thought, The Best Part, and Bagheera. Although BT made its mark through a absurdly extensive touring schedule in its early years, it was in T&T that the songwriting and musical talent that culminated in the wildly successful Four truly shines for the first time. The choice of All in the Groove as the initial single release was puzzling, but BT always seems to mess that up on every album. Don't let the lack of sales pre-Four allow you to dismiss this album, if you like BT you need this one."
Great bookends, but too weak in the middle
Steven E. Wonchoba | Minneapolis, MN USA | 09/25/2003
(3 out of 5 stars)
"I am a big Blues Traveler fan. I have enjoyed their evolution over the years, and I think that each phase of their career is enjoyable for different (and some of the same) reasons. Having said that, Travelers & Thieves is and has always been my least favorite BT album. For years I had a difficult time pinpointing exactly what it was about the album that troubled me, but eventually I hit upon it: Too much hi-hat.It's more than that actually. But that's a big part of it. It sounds trivial (and I suppose it is), but many of the songs suffer from an overly-polished rhythm section. The drum lines are all very intricate, but they are often too fast and lack the drive and guts of the songs from the (brilliant) "Save His Soul" album and even "Straight On Till Morning". This is most evident in "Optimistic Thought", "I Have My Moments", "Support Your Local Emperor", "All In The Groove" & "Bagheera". There is just not enough kick behind these songs and they rely too much on a rhythm section that is far too hi-hat heavy and not strong enough to carry them.Other songs misuse the harmonica. John Popper is at his best when he is attacking the harmonica on songs like "Can't See Why", "Sweet Talking Hippie" and "Stand". On too many of the songs on Travelers & Thieves (especially Bagheera & Emperor), the harmonica almost sounds like a flute.Another problem is the mix. The entire album sounds like it was recorded in a large, empty room with no acoustic walls. There is way too much echo and it makes the lyrics very difficult to understand. "What's For Breakfast" sounds much better live than it does on this album for that reason.Still, the album has some very strong points, and I need to mention them. "The Tiding / Onslaught" is very good, if a little musically dichotomous (although I believe that is intentional and consistent with the lyrics). And the epic "Mountain Cry" is in many ways one of the best BT songs ever written. But in between those two classics which open and close the album, there is a little too much fluff ... and hi-hat. Two and a half stars -- round up to three."
Brilliant and Sad
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I have to say that this was one of the 5 Blues Traveler classics before the untimely death of the late Bobby Sheehan (r.i.p). Every song is pure brilliance on this disk. I still can't get over the awesome bassline on Support Your Local Emperor( Bob at one of his finests). I just wish they played that song live when I saw them. Sweat Pain always brings a sad feeling when I hear it, even tho it is happy also. Recommend buying along with Save His Soul. Peace Out"