Get On with It: The Best of Cracker
[CD & DVD]
First Appeared in The Music Box, April 2006, Volume 13, #4
Written by John Metzger
What are fans to think of the fact that Cracker re-recorded many of its best-known songs for a collection titled Greatest Hits Redux and saw fit to release the set on the same day that Virgin Records issued Get On with It, its own overview of the bandís career? On Ainít Gonna Suck Itself, the final track from its 2003 endeavor Countrysides, the group had outlined its contentious separation from the company, yet a sticker that is affixed to Get On with Itís outer wrapper as well as a comment that is tucked inside producer Don Smithís liner notes indicate that Cracker fully cooperated with its former labelís efforts to create the retrospective package. Naturally, the ensembleís loyal followers are crying foul, and there undoubtedly is some bad blood between the two entities. Given Cracker also is putting the finishing touches upon a new studio outing that is due later this year, however, the whole shebang reeks of a mutually beneficial publicity stunt that, drawn from the same blend of irony and irreverence that fueled its early work, is designed to raise the collectiveís profile among its casual fans.
Presenting 15 songs in chronological order, Get On with It touches upon most of the important moments from Crackerís catalogue by juxtaposing its charting singles with well-selected, deeper cuts. Granted, it skips the bandís 1992 hit Happy Birthday to Me, but that likely was a wise decision, considering that the song became unbearably irritating within five minutes of its release. Besides, its jabs at smug, self-centeredness are better covered by the opening lines to Teen Angst (What the World Needs Now): "I donít know what the world may need/But Iím sure as hell that it starts with me/And thatís a wisdom Iíve laughed at."
As Get On with It progresses, however, it becomes increasingly apparent that Cracker didnít alter its approach dramatically from one album to the next. In essence, the band rummaged around the classic rock radio dial in an inspired, if unoriginal fashion, largely displacing the eccentric eclecticism of David Loweryís previous outfit Camper Van Beethoven with an tight-knit stream of well-constructed, retro-minded melodies. The country-infused bounce of Lonesome Johnny Blues, for example, is culled directly from Creedence Clearwater Revivalís playbook; I Hate My Generation crosses the southern-fried rock of Tom Petty with the punk-imbued fury of The Clash; Mr. Wrong is nothing more than a mishmash of Bob Dylanís (When I Paint My) Masterpiece and Jefferson Airplaneís Song for All Seasons; Get Off This is a slice of funky-glam befitting of Mott the Hoople; and, of course, nearly everything on the endeavor is kissed with the gritty R&B flavor of the Rolling Stones. Though later tracks, such as The World Is Mine and Shine, suggest that Cracker may have run out of steam, the groupís early fare remains a representative sample of the love songs for disaffected youth that pervaded the í90s.
While Get On with It does an admirable job of providing an overview of Crackerís career, the separately issued DVD that shares its title is merely serviceable, making the bandís beef with Virgin Records far more justifiable. Although the set combines a nine-song, 40-minute concert that was recorded in Denver in 1993 with four promotional videos and a performance of Get Off This from MTVís 120 Minutes, it barely pushes past the one-hour mark. In addition, its compilers truly missed the boat by not remixing the material for 5.1 channel surround sound, and as a result, the collection feels haphazardly thrown together. Even more problematic, however, are the live selections, which, other than being slightly more aggressive and ragged, remain frustratingly faithful to their studio counterparts. In other words, nothing on the DVD incarnation of Get On with It is essential, and the outing largely seems geared towards Crackerís diehard fans, all of whom are likely to side with the group and to avoid purchasing the endeavor.
Get On with It: The Best of Cracker (CD) ó
Get On with It: The Best of Cracker (DVD) ó
Get On with It: The Best of Cracker (CD) is available
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1 Star: Pitiful
2 Stars: Listenable
3 Stars: Respectable
4 Stars: Excellent
5 Stars: Can't Live Without It!!
Copyright © 2006 The Music Box