Decade of last.fm scrobbling countdown:
25. Cracker (1,162 plays)
Top track (52 plays): Big Dipper, from The Golden Age (1996)
Featured track: One Fine Day live, originally from Forever (2002)
Most people my age have heard Cracker, but they might not remember the name. You know, Cracker, that two-hit wonder from the early 90s that wrote “Low” and “Teen Angst (What the World Needs Now)”. Like most of you, I never bothered actually picking up a Cracker album while they were popular. They only stumbled into my discography through an impulse buy when I saw their first Best Of compilation, Garage D’Or (2000), near a checkout register in Best Buy. I thought, “Oh, greatest hits? I thought they only had two,” and I picked it up to see what I was missing. For a while afterwards I was convinced that they must have had a dozen radio singles that I was just a little too young to remember, but the truth of it sank in over time: One of the greatest rock bands of my generation had slipped through the cracks.
Well, my obsession with Cracker ran for a year or two before I eventually forgot about them, and they might have been lost to me forever if I hadn’t happened to find myself in San Antonio, Texas, with a car for the first time in two years and nothing better to do with it. I did a last.fm search on upcoming gigs in Austin, saw Cracker were playing that evening, and took off. Any band would have sufficed, but these guys blew me away. Their performance defied anything you might expect out of aging rock stars. With an intimate connection to the music and the audience, it was as if they had just recorded the material yesterday; They were overlooked American legends in their prime playing in a venue small enough to make eye contact. To top it off, they even offered a tip of the hat to a semi-local country legend. (They covered Ray Wylie Hubbard’s “Up Against the Wall, Redneck Mother”.) I’ve gone out of my way to catch Cracker live every time they’ve played near me since, and I’m never disappointed.
I will never know why Cracker were not as successful as Pearl Jam or Tom Petty or any of the other rock legends I grew up with, because I honestly think they’re on par. David Lowery’s lyrical whit and sardonic vocals pair up perfectly with Johnny Hickman’s tasteful blues rock guitar to create one of the most readily identifiable and creative duos in the business.