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The Gin Blossoms always have been (in my opinion) unfairly critisized as being "grunge-lite" or "rock-lite". Whatever your opinion on the Gin Blossoms, one cannot deny that they did manage to write a handful (and more) super-catchy tunes. While it may seem strange to have a "best of" for a band that managed only 2 full albums, this in fact is a strength.
"Outside Looking In: The Best of Gin Blossoms" (15 tracks, 53 min.) includes all 7 songs that were a radio hit, some bigger than others: "Follow You Down", "Hey Jealousy", "Until I Fall Away", "Allison Road", "Mrs. Rita", "Found Out About You" and, appearing for the first time on a Gin Blossom alsbum, "Till I Hear it From You" (from the "Empire Records" soundtrack). Not a single "minor hit" is overlooked or missing. The other tracks give the best remaining tracks from their 2 albums, as well as a great (and previously unissued) live version of "Whitewash" from a 1996 concert in Pittsburgh.
The death of guitarist Doug Hopkins obviously was tragic, and his contributions are to be recognized, but in my opinion they were overblown. Only 2 ("Hey Jealousy" and "Found Out About You" of the 7 "hits" were written by Hopkins, so clearly there were other talented writers in the band. In the end, this is an excellent "best of" for the many out there (like myself) who do not have either of the Gin Blossoms' albums, and instead wanted to get all the best known songs on a single album.
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VINE VOICEon January 28, 2001
The Gin Blossoms were a group you hoped would have lasted longer. The Arizona band's guitar-driven alt-rock learned the right lessons from the 60s and 90s, recalling clearer, cleaner versions of early REM as well as the British Invasion (lead singer Robin Wilson's high, yearning vocals recalled a Southwestern take on the Hollies' Allen Clarke. The group actually played on a Hollies tribute LP). Heard in films like "Empire Records," or atop TV's "Grace Under Fire," the Blossoms seemed to typify a new roots-rock style that played and sold well against the era's underproduced grunge and rap styles. "Outside Looking In," the group's hits set (title taken from the hit "'Till I Hear It From You"), proves their time was memorable, if brief.
In an essay accompanying the LP, Blossoms bassist Bill Leen is quoted telling an Internet interviewer that "If we keep writing good songs and we don't go bald, we should be fine." The songs were, with producer John Hampton melding hard-rock and Beatle jangle on the fierce "Hey Jealousy" and "Day Job," "Found Out About You" (with its haunting chorus and guitarist Doug Hopkins' Peter Buck-ish intro), "Just South of Nowhere" (which recalled the Fabs' "Dr. Robert") and the gentle "Until I Fall Away." Sadly, the group got no chance to age.
The Gin Blossoms' 1994-96 hits were catchy and fast, but Hopkins' lyrics showed a touch of fatalism (which Wilson caught singing lines like "We could drive around this town/Let the cops chase us around."). That showed true when Hopkins was released from the band after its recording a second album, then died as his songs flooded the airwaves. The usual indignities followed: the band was dropped by A&M after its merger with Universal Music, splintered into three Phoenix-based groups (they would reunite for a one-off New Year's Eve show), then have this collection released without its input or blessing. "Congratulations, I'm Sorry" became the title of their second album and the band's epitaph.
The collection is missing a few B-sides and curios (the group's take on KISS' hilarious "Christine Sixteen" had a built-in humor the Blossoms' studio music rarely showed; its cover of "Soul Deep" repayed debts to Alex Chilton's Box Tops and the influential Big Star). But "Outside Looking In" remains a value-added, recommeded group intro, a timepiece for 90s music and, unfortunately, the 90s music business.
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on April 6, 2000
It's hard to believe that I would be buying a best hits cd of a band who only lived to release 3 albums. Gin Blossoms was a magnificent representation of musical creativity at its peak. Some of their spirit lives on through Robin Wilson's new group, Gas Giants. But nothing is quite like the songs he wrote that are all included on this cd. If you forgot what really good music sounds like, what with all the Puff Daddy remixes, Korn fads, and Limp Bizkit rock/rap. Get this cd and you will have faith in rock and roll music once again.
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on October 26, 2001
When '80s melodic metal gave way to '90s alternative grunge, I became as depressed with the rock music scene as most of the grunge bands were about, well, everything. This band was one of the first to alter my perspective on '90s music. The melodies made this band more listenable than any so-called "alternative" band I had heard to that point.
I agree with others who say this collection is a bit ridiculous considering this band only released two full albums (sorry, but I generally don't buy EPs). I was happy to buy this collection for "Til I Hear It From You" alone, as that is such a great, sad and heartfelt song that was not on either of the two full-length albums. For sure, all the hits, pop charters and rock tracks, are here; as are a bunch of others. To this day I love such songs as "Hey Jealousy", "Found Out About You", and "Follow You Down". All the songs I've ever heard from these guys are good. Too bad that this band couldn't have made a go of it, as they could have had a long and successful career.
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on February 9, 2001
All of the complaints about this album being nothing more than a re-release of items already available are valid. Each track on this album is probably in your collection already. But, if you're new to the Blossoms, this is a good starting point. I'd have included "Kelli Richards" from their debut EP, and would have tried to find some alternate takes of songs to include in addition. But in all, this album does provide a pretty good look at a band that turned out all of two albums. If nothing else, it will allow you to take a second look at "Congratulations, I'm Sorry," an album that was unfairly criticized as being weak, but contains some very good songwriting. "Not Only Numb" is among the most right-on-the-nose songs to characterize a relationship where the joy is long gone. "As Long As It Matters" is an excellent love song. The album also saves you the trouble of having to load up your CD player with two or three different Gin Blossoms albums. If you want to hear their radio hits, this album will do it. But by all means, go and try out their actual releases. The Gin Blossoms were able to all too well remind you of the worst mistakes you ever made in life. If you've got regrets, you'll probably love this band as much as I do.
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on May 20, 2000
Okay so you've got this far- Your reading reviews for this CD. For years you've been hearing "Hey Jealousy," "Follow you down," "Till I hear it from you," and more on the radio, and every time they come on you start jamming out and turn the radio up.
So buy the CD already!
Its got all those songs you love to hear on the radio, and a good spread from thier most popular albums. You will not regret it. Chances are' it'll get awesome rotation in you CD player and you'll wonder how you ever got along with it. So what are you waiting for?
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on January 17, 2000
As much as I loved the Gin Blossoms songs that were played on radio stations, I never felt the urge to actually buy the CDs...until now. Outside Looking In is a great CD. It includes all those upbeat tunes that popularized the band in the early 90's. It's sad that the Blossoms are no more, but with this CD, the band will live forever!
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on July 17, 2001
For those of you who don't know the Gin Blossoms, this CD is a perfect introduction. For those of you who are skeptical about rock bands past the mid-90's and are still devoted to the grunge sounds of the early nineties, this band gives hope to the outgrowth of grunge. In fact, the Gin Blossoms produced songs that were just as good as many of the greater known rock bands, and all of their gems are here. This CD has all of the Blossoms' classic songs. My favorites are "Found Out About You," "'Till I Hear it From You," and even the over-played "Hey Jealousy." Other completely mellodic tunes include "Until I Fall Away," "Follow You Down," and "Allison Road." And even though the other songs are not comparable to these, they have catchy sounds that you can learn to appreciate.
One thing that you can truly appreciate about the Blossoms that's hard to find in other bands is their gift of poetry. All of their songs have meaningful and striking words that are deeply poetic. Even if you're too young to know about love and betrayal, you feel moved by Doug Hopkins' words of love, loss, and betrayal. He describes the emotions so perfectly. And just by listening to him, you get the feeling he was hurt and that his feelings are truly genuine. Unlike most people, Doug truly had something to sing about. It's such a shame that this band died way too soon. Buy this CD so that you can start to remember what good music is like.
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on October 20, 2004
Call it melodic rock, country-lite or southern grunge, the Gin Blossoms are one group you won't get tired off. Their themes of heartbreak, longing and general affection are soundtracks of my college years. All the radio-friendly hits are here: "Follow You Down", "Found Out About You", "Hey Jealousy", "Until I Fall Away", "Allison Road" and the end track from Empire Records OST "Til I Hear It From You". Perfect drive time music or simply for reminiscing about lost loves. If you were a young adult in the mid-90s, make sure to get this and the memories will come flooding back.
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on February 24, 2004
Anyone who listened to the radio in the 90s will recognize many of the songs on this album. "Hey Jealousy" "Til I Hear It From You" and "Follow You Down" were, justly, played to death on Top 40 and even some rock stations. Gin Blossoms managed to combine the best of power pop, alt-folk and college rock (ala REM) to come up with a winning, radio friendly sound. This is great music for cruising down the highway.
This collection itself is very nice. It includes a great booklet with a nice essay that puts the music in context and tells (a little of ) the story of the band, plus it features the rare withdrawn album cover for the band's first full length CD. The CD itself features some rarer cuts off of their debut CDEP and the "Follow You Down" cut from the Empire Records soundtrack.
The dismissal and eventual death (from suicide) of the guy who wrote most of the early hits is glossed over in the essay. It seems clear that the band lost direction and had to rely on outside writers to keep up the level of song writing after that, some of the songs from Congratulations...I'm Sorry seem a little flat.
Still, this band made some wonderful pop music, some of the best in the 90s. Do yourself a favor and check them out.
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