A few years ago I was playing banjo along with Cracker's Golden Age and realized how great this band would sound with a banjo. I suggested it on their web site and I'm sure it was lost among the hundreds of other posts. I had to wonder if the musicians even read their own web sites fan postings when they are so filled with idle chatter (mine excepted, of course).
This album goes beyond my expectations. The current "bluegrass players" (many of whom used to play bluegrass and now have gone onto other things using those instruments) have really succeeded in reviving that genre of music (with some help from NPR that has been using it in fills between news for years). There are those that maintain the tradition faithfully like Ricky Skaggs and those like Bela Fleck that are taking it toward jazz and world music. And then a bunch of others doing stuff in between like String Cheese Incident. But none of this has really done it for me. Either the musical gymnastics are self-indulgent but to complex to listen to unless you get off on keeping track of shifts between time signatures or the songwriting is so weak that you'd rather go back and put on some Stanley Brothers or Bill Monroe and hear the real thing.
Bob Dylan in his last few albums has made many references to American roots and blues music - both instrumentally and lyrically and they've been excellent records. Cracker has now helped define the musical Zeitgeist with this recording.
I don't know if this disk is a gag or was seriously considered but following on the heels of "Forever" which I found to be ponderous and turgid this is refreshing to say the least.
The best cuts, in my opinion, are the ones that are the most acoustic/bluegrass sounding: Teen Angst with its blazing banjo and mandolin, How Can I live Without You, Sweet Potato has a really nice "unplugged" sound with string bass I think. Lonesome Johnny Blues, which never struck me as anything more than filler in its old incarnation, now works nicely with the banjo rolls. The piano playing throughout is excellent (reminds me of the sound that Bill Payne added to Little Feat). Also some great electric slide guitar solos.
I think the least successful are their hits: "Low" and "Eurotrash Girl" because they pretty much sound like they always do.
Not enough cuts. Only 10 songs. Theres 80 mins of music that fits on a disk. Fill 'er up!
I'm hoping Cracker takes this on tour or hires some new players who can do this stuff. More albums like this please and thank you David Lowery for doing this!!! This is one direction that I think rock and roll needs to go if its going to survive with any vitality.