I lived in Boston for not-long-enough. While I was there, my friends and I would frequent a bar called the Pourhouse. The pun notwithstanding, we used to go there a frightening amount. One reason beyond the obvious one was that this bar had jukebox. One of the CDs in the jukebox was Cracker's Kerosene Hat. We would play the hell out of that album. We probably played it so much that I've bought the album many, many times over. The reason being that this is the perfect album for drinking. From the depressing cry-in-your-beer sound of "To The Infirmary" to the drunken sing along of "Euro Trash Girl" (made all the more special by the hidden and, oh, so mature track 69), I have trouble thinking of an album that lends itself to the realm of drunken haze quite as well. And it is those songs that really appeal to me. Would the album have the same effect if I were to first listen to it now? I doubt it. But it has magic in my eyes and that magic has rubbed off on the many other albums that the band has done.
That is why I was so excited to review this new Cracker album. But it was an excitement coupled with confusion. Didn't Cracker just put out a double greatest hits album? (Garage d'Or - one of the highlights of that album being the band's cover of "Monday Mornings") And why is there another greatest hits album coming out besides this one on the same exact day? And why do the same people that find Simon Cowell mean on American Idol gobble up the fifteen some hours of horrible audition episodes where the main focus is to make fun of people that can't sing? And who put the bomp in the bomp-dee-bomp-dee-bomp? Clearly, this album raised more questions than it answered.
Cracker Greatest Hits Redux is the group's answer to their former label's, Virgin's, greatest hits CD that is being released on the same day. That album is being compiled without the band's input. The OFFICIAL band reason for their additional greatest hits was that the fans have been clamoring for an album that contained versions of the songs that were more like their live act. While that reasoning sounds a little hokey to me, the one thing that you can't deny is that the band has done nothing but get tighter over the years. Unaware of any of this back story, when I first began listening to the album I didn't have any idea that these were rerecorded songs. It wasn't until I hit "Low" with its newly added and really quite a fantastic accordion part that I opened the liner notes and realized that these weren't the original versions of the songs. But-and I don't think this my soft spot talking-it is great.
Frankly, I don't know what else to say about the album. If you know Cracker, you'll recognize the songs. If you don't know Cracker, I think you should. If you're on the fence, I think you would be surprised at how many of the songs you might recognize. Here is a track list…
1. Teen Angst (What the World Needs Now)
2. I See The Light
3. Mr. Wrong
5. Get Off This
6. Lonesome Johnny Blues
7. Euro-Trash Girl
8. Sweet Thistle Pie
9. Big Dipper
10. The World Is Mine
11. Duty Free
12. Ain't Gonna Suck Itself
13. Something You Ain't Got
These guys are masters at what they do and they make it look easy. I feel like I'm back in Boston and I'm loving it.