I have very distinct memories of the moment in time when G. Love & Special Sauce came out. It was May 1994, just as I was graduating from college, and it was part of my life’s soundtrack as I left Tennessee behind and set out for Bozeman, Montana, where, er, adventures ensued.
G. Love got what I call “meloned,” after their contemporaries Blind Melon. A band gets meloned when they release a good album that later becomes associated in everyone’s mind with a particularly annoying single that a bunch of particularly annoying people like.
For Blind Melon it was the infamous “bee girl” song. For G. Love it was “Cold Beverages.”
After being meloned, G. Love never quite reached the same level of popularity, though he kept releasing albums with Special Sauce through 2008.
Completely out of left field (to me anyway), this year one of my favorite bands, The Avett Brothers decided to attempt for G. Love what Rick Rubin did for Johnny Cash or Jack White did for Loretta Lynn: strip them down to the basics and remind contemporary audiences why they were popular in the first place.
Nobody’s going to accuse G. Love of being in that league, but there’s a lot more to him than his meloned legacy would lead you to believe. The Avetts produced Fixin’ to Die and the result is laid back white boy blues with plenty of head-nodding hooks (and thankfully none of the rapping that so dated his older albums). I hope he gets a fair audience for it.
This track, upon which both Avett brothers sing, is the album’s stand out, a singalong gem called “You’ve Got to Die.”