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Cracker: Forever Rock ‘N’ Roll

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I admit it. I’m stuck in the past. My favorite musical artists remain Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers, Bob Marley and the Wailers, Pink Floyd, The Beatles, Peter Gabriel…and Cracker.

Cracker? At that mention, folks scrunch up their face and go, "Hmmm.”

David Lowery is simply one of the finest songwriters and true-blue singers in the bidness, and Johnny Hickman proves himself the sweetest, most inventive ‘let’s-do-it-for-the-band’ guitarists this side of, well, The Band. But finding more than one or two CDs by Cracker in your local Best Buy, Borders, or Wherehouse – or even, for that matter, a cool local store like Ranch Records in Salem – is like finding a lottery ticket in the trash that’s worth ten bucks. They just seem to be too scarce.

So when Cracker re-recorded a shelf full of their songs and issued them as Greatest Hits – Redux to compete against Virgin Records’ release of their Get On With It: The Best of Cracker, it was more than a spit-in-your-face to Virgin. It was proof this Cracker is an American treasure.

These guys know rock and roll. And country. And twang. And shuffle. And everything in between. Lowery crafts stories that pass as songs, taking you to the end of the road and back. The remakes showed how well the songs have aged, and how polished the band is these days.

If you pull out Cracker’s Forever, from 2004, and stroll through the insanity of "Guarded by Monkeys" and the identity-twisting "Miss Santa Cruz County," it simply feels like home. Sing along with "When I Win the Lottery" and you’re in for a little redneck baiting. Turn up "I Want Everything" from Kerosene Hat and dream away. And hell, just the first verse of "Ain’t Gonna Suck Itself" shows Cracker thumbing their nose at the big boys – but hey, it’s just for fun.

Admittedly, it’s hard to keep up with all the releases from Cracker, especially when you have hard time finding them locally or even online.

I just discovered they have a new album out: Greenland, released in June of 2006. The few reviews I’ve managed to find say it’s a damn fine set of tunes that, while never specifically mention Greenland, embody the loneliness of a large empty continent. The fact these guys have lasted as long as they have and continue to put out classic rock’n’roll should put them in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

Much as I want, I can never get enough Cracker.

And neither should you.

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