August 18, 1997 12:00 PM

Blues Traveler

Like the late Grateful Dead, Blues Traveler is more than just a band. In emulation of their San Francisco forebears, these four New Jerseyites have toured heavily, gained a devout following and added a similar troubadour mystique to their twist on 1970s blues-rock. But, unlike the Dead, Blues Traveler has achieved genuine pop success in its prime with hummable hits like “Run-around” and “Hook.” Unfortunately, there’s nothing as catchy on Straight On Till Morning, the band’s fifth studio album. Lead singer John Popper’s virtuoso harmonica playing adds welcome texture to standouts like “Carolina Blues” and the Latin-tinged “Felicia,” but beyond that, the watery jam will leave the uninitiated wondering whether this band, as one song puts it, justifies the thrill. (A&M)

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