Who You Callin’ Cracker?

Here’s my review of the two albums I purchased at the Cracker show last week:

Welcome to Cracker – This two-disc album consists of the entirety of the 2006 Greatest Hits Redux on the first disc, and recordings from the Rockpalast Crossroad Festival in Berlin on the second. Redux was originally released in response to the compilation put out by Virgin Records after they’d dropped the band, for which they allowed Cracker no input. So Cracker re-recorded these songs and put out their own greatest hits album (and included “Ain’t Gonna Suck Itself,” their kiss-off song to Virgin). The re-recordings don’t sound all that different from the originals, but you can tell they aren’t exactly the same. On “Low,” for instance, there’s some prominent accordion during the solo. It seems a little out of balance that it includes four songs from Kerosene Hat and none from Forever, but I guess the former WAS their best-selling record. The live selections were likely made so as to avoid any duplicates of the Greatest Hits, so much of it is made up of songs from Greenland and Sunrise in the Land of Milk and Honey. There are also some other favorites that didn’t make it to the other disc, like “Seven Days” and “One Fine Day.” David Lowery forgets a few of the words on “Waiting for You Girl,” which kind of seems a petty thing to point out, but it’s often what stands out the most during live performances. “Another Song About the Rain” comes across as overly long, but for the most part it contains good selections. “Show Me How This Thing Works” is a favorite of mine, and “St. Cajetan” makes a good closer.

Johnny Hickman, Tilting – Johnny’s first solo album introduced two songs that would later make it to Cracker albums, “Friends” and “San Bernadino Boy.” We’ll have to wait and see if that happens with any of these. It’s a good record, mostly in the typical country-tinged rock vibe, although “Sick Cynthia Thing” has more of a pop sound. Johnny returns to political themes with “Not Enough,” a sarcastic number about American attitudes toward the rest of the world, with some nice backing vocals. There’s fiddle and mandolin on “Measure of a Man,” and a classical guitar solo on “Papa Johnny’s Arms.” “Destiny Misspent” is a song about coming to terms with regrets, based around a catchy riff. “Dream Along with Me” is a rather sweet ballad. What I want to know, however, is why he’s never released his anti-conglomerate anthem “Costco Socks.”

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