Don’t look now, but Hootie and the Blowfish’s Cracked Rear View will turn 25 soon.
By Tim Craig
Granted, by “soon,” I mean 2019, but I wanted to get ahead of the curve: this album needs a proper reissue.
Oh, sure, there’s that boutique reissue of the album for Rhino’s “Start Your Ear Off Right” campaign in 2017. It’s a fancy yellow-and-black swirl vinyl, limited to 5,500 copies. If there’s a sign that it’s time for a proper reissue, go ahead and check eBay for one of those copies. Let’s just say, the market is bullish.
But a boutique reissue is not what we need. What this country needs is a straight up, shiny, black vinyl reissue, mass produced so that every man, woman and child can own one. For the critics, throw in some remastered tracks from the band’s early demo cassettes or the self-released Kootchypop. Not enough? How about a disc of live music showcasing the thing that brought Hootie and the Blowfish regional, grassroots popularity that helped hone and then propel the band to superstardom on its first try? Heck, you could even add a concert DVD for all those people who still think streaming is a fad.
What I’m saying it this: Cracked Rear View is one of those records that has gone from ubiquity, to revilement, to eye rolling campishness, to, now: on a bus speeding into respectability.
You should get on board.
Here’s the thing about Cracked Rear View: it’s good. It has flashes of greatness, but it is consistently good. That’s what makes it iconic. You turn it on, listen and before you know it, it’s track five. You smile at a lyric and then it’s over. You don’t skip a track. You don’t shuffle play. You go from top to bottom. And, sometimes, you’ll do that twice.
It’s also relevant.
Sure there’s the bro-anthemish odes to heartbreaks made better by beer, sports, and great times, but don’t forget: people may not know Dan Marino, but the Dolphins still make me cry; people still put on a little Dylan; and ESPN is still popular. Yet, underneath, there are darker tones; nods to racial tensions, to death, and drug abuse. It’s light and dark. They co-exist in harmony.
Thematically, wrote Billboard wrote in track-by-track review in 2014, the “album on the whole is way closer to, say, Counting Crows’ ‘August and Everything After’ than it is to Dave Matthews Band’s ‘Under the Table and Dreaming.'”
So, if you haven’t heard it in a while, put it on. And get ready for next year: because if this were an alternate universe, this reissue would already be on its way.