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Cracker - Berkeley to Bakersfield

  by Carl Bookstein

published: 12 / 4 / 2015



Cracker - Berkeley to Bakersfield
Label: Floating World Records
Format: CD

intro

Excellent double album from critically-acclaimed American alternative rock band Cracker, the first in twenty years to include the original line-up and which combines hard-edged punk with country rock


‘Berkeley to Bakersfield’, a double-album and American band Cracker’s tenth studio effort, explores California landscapes with two very different musical approaches. The ‘Berkeley’ disc explores and is influenced by hard edged punk and garage mirroring sounds of the Bay Area. The ‘Bakersfield’ disc captures the California countryside and is all country twang and earth tones. Cracker, a solid and successful band is notable for a myriad of influences from punk to alt country and for hits that include ‘Low’and ‘Get Off This’. The ’Berkeley’ side includes the original Cracker line-up for the first time in 20 years. Founding members David Lowery and Johnny Hickman anchor the whole project. The’ Berkeley’ disc is often overtly political. The opener ‘Torches and Pitchforks’ starts out slow, yet direct in its message: “We will fight you from the mountains and we will fight you in the streets… You cannot take what isn’t yours.” ‘March of the Billionaires’ gets to rocking with a punk edge (and even perhaps a touch of dub or ska), carrying a message and a punch: “Give up your rights/Your most private thoughts… Life’s good for the billionaires.” ‘Beautiful’ features some stinging electric guitar and describes images of a pink Mohawk and Doc Martens, with its subject working at a coffee shop or a food co-op. It is a song with an uplifting spirit: “Don’t you know that you’re beautiful?” ‘El Cerrito’ is a funky number capturing the grit of this city-scape, and ‘Life in the Big City’ criticises wealth, politicians and mansions in the Hamptons. Orchestrated with distinct backing vocals, the ‘Berkeley’ closer, ‘Waited My Whole Life’ says that superstitions don’t mean a thing and describes the passion of an eternally longed for love. “Ain’t no palm trees where I come from… no movie stars now… ain’t no place I’d rather be.”- The ‘Bakersfield’ disc captures the “California Country Boy” side of the band and the atmospheres of the state’s inland valleys. ‘Almond Grove’ casts a soul soothing, laid back groove- capturing images easy and picturesque: “I’m going back home to the cotton fields.”- this second disc, my favourite part of this double album. The track ‘King of Bakersfield’ is a personal favourite tune here with evocative pedal steel. “I work from dusk to dawn for Paramount Pictures/Set carpenter and all around handyman… life is good/They call me the king of Bakersfield.” ‘Tonight I Cross The Border’ is an intriguing story song about immigrant realities. ‘Get On Down the Road’, another of these Americana and country tinged tunes, twangy sounds akin to those popularized by Buck Owens and Merle Haggard. The rich closer ‘Where Have Those Days Gone?’, steeped in memories, poignantly captures the country side of California and the old days gone by.



Track Listing:-
1 Torches and Pitchforks
2 March of the Billionaires
3 Beautiful
4 El Comandante
5 El Cerrito
6 Reaction
7 You Got Yourself Into This
8 Life In the Big City
9 Waited My Whole Life
10 California Country Boy
11 Almond Grove
12 King of Bakersfield
13 Tonight I Cross the Border
14 Get On Down the Road
15 I’m Sorry Baby
16 The San Bernardino Boy
17 When You Come Down
18 Where Have Those Days Gone


Band Links:-
https://www.facebook.com/CrackerSoul
https://twitter.com/thebandcracker


Label Links:-
http://www.floatingworldrecords.co.uk/
https://www.facebook.com/floating.worldrecords
https://twitter.com/floatingwrecord



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Sunrise in the Land of Milk and Honey (2009)
Somewhat below par ninth album from American alt.rock group Cracker, which doesn't quite match or attain the high standards and glories of their past


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