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Cracker: Gentleman's Blues



Album: Gentleman's Blues
Label: Virgin

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One of the most enduring, innovative, and underappreciated indie bands of the '80s, Camper Van Beethoven produced a mixture of rock, ska, Middle Eastern music, psychedelia, and whatever else the group wanted, a sound that peaked around the time of CVB's 1988 major-label debut, Our Beloved Revolutionary Sweetheart. When the group broke up, singer and songwriter David Lowery formed Cracker, discarded most of the exotic elements, and commenced rocking. Gentleman's Blues, the band's fourth album, is in the same vein as Cracker's other work, offering the same solid, dependable pleasures with just enough new elements to keep things fresh. As befits the title, the blues influence has become more distinct on Gentleman's Blues, particularly on the tracks written by guitarist Johnny Hickman. For his part, Lowery's sharp, cynical lyrics have never sounded quite so world-weary, and "I Want Out Of The Circus" finds him bringing in circus music in a way that wouldn't sound out of place on a Camper album. Add some genuinely rousing rock numbers ("The Good Life," "The World Is Mine"), some gospel backing vocals, a memorable closing song ("Hallelujah"), and the requisite hidden tracks, and you have all the elements that have made Cracker one of the decade's surest bets.