Cracked Rear View – Hootie & the Blowfish – 1994
Claimed Sales: 16m
First listen?: Yes
Format Listened?: Apple Music
For the people who have been experiencing these albums as I’ve been listening to, friends and family who are inundated with my opinions as the weeks go by, just about every artist I mention sparks a conversation about how it was listening to them back at the time, or their favourite song from that album. Hootie & the Blowfish and Cracked Rear View specifically sparked no such reaction, literally the only person who had even heard of the band was one of my American friends. I personally only knew of lead singer Darius Rucker as the popular country singer he is today, so I went into this album nearly completely blind. I was pleasantly surprised with this predictable set of rootsy pop rock songs, there’ a lot to enjoy here. The hooks on the likes of Drowning and Only Wanna Be With You are easily catchy, while the band comes together brilliantly on a song like Time, with the sort of guitar solos that Eagles were making popular back in the 70s. This is a massively commercial rock sound that if released now would 100% be counted as a country record, the transition for Rucker into this genre is no surprise. It’s his vocal performance as heard on opener Hannah Jane and highlight Let Her Cry that really stands out though, taking cues from the grunge sound of their contemporaries, the Pearl Jam’s and Nirvana’s, but delivered with a soulful tone instead of the anger of that genre. Perhaps that’s why Cracked Rear View resonated with the wider public, it’s obvious to imagine country, folk, rock and pop fans all agreeing that the songs here are pretty great, even if it’s hardly the most revolutionary of albums. Hold My Hand is a great track, but it’s totally predictable. The riffs on Not Even The Trees could be from literally any mid 90s US band, but there’s a welcoming familiarity that I really enjoyed. It works and it’s pretty ironic that sounding like everyone else might actually have allowed Hootie & the Blowfish to stand out.
Will I listen again?: Probably yes.
Best Track: Let Her Cry had my favourite hook on here, while the final section that starts to fall away before crashing back in the by far the most exciting moment on the album.