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ALBUM REVIEW / POP

*** Blues Traveler, "Straight On Till Morning," A&M.

June 28, 1997|SANDY MASUO

Over the past seven years Blues Traveler has proved to be one of the prime movers in keeping the spirit of the Grateful Dead alive. The incisive, passionate sound they've cultivated through years of diligent touring really shines on the group's latest effort.

Simmering, melodic numbers such as "Felicia" recall Springsteen's poppier moments, and "Yours" is a stirring ballad brimming with quavery, soulful (but never syrupy) sentiments. The most compelling stretches are the fierce, focused grooves of "Carolina Blues" and "Great Big World." The jamming impulse is still vital to the quartet--a fact that is abundantly clear on the 7 1/2-minute closing track--but it's Blues Traveler's commitment to the songs that keeps this album on course.

Albums are rated on a scale of one star (poor), two stars (fair), three stars (good) and four stars (excellent).

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