Cracker

Greatest Hits Redux

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Plenty of bands aren't happy with how their catalog is treated by former record labels, but no artists have confronted their old label the way Cracker does with the 2006 release of Greatest Hits Redux. As Virgin prepared its second Cracker compilation, Get on with It: The Best of Cracker, for release in early 2006, the band caught wind of the project, and when the label would not allow them to participate, they retaliated by re-recording a bunch of their signature tunes and releasing this new album, Greatest Hits Redux, on the same day Virgin's comp hit the stores. At the time of release, the band claimed that its fans have been waiting for years to hear these songs reinterpreted by a road-tested, tighter incarnation of Cracker, and that they had, in fact, been meaning to re-record these songs for a while now, but it's hard not to see the album as a giant middle finger in the face of Virgin, not in the least because nine of the 13 songs on Redux are also on Get on with It. There are some subtle differences scattered throughout these renditions, from added or altered words to instrumental fills (like an accordion on the bridge to "Low"), but it's easy to listen to the big hits of "Teen Angst (What the World Needs Now)," "Low," "Get Off This," and "Euro-Trash Girl" and think that they're the original recordings. In a way, this is something to admire -- few bands could exactly capture the vibe of their early albums 12 years later, and play it with some genuine conviction to boot. This is a quality that would indeed be admired by those legions of fans who have allegedly been wanting these re-recordings, and there's little question that hardcore fans, the kind who can spot the subtle difference between these redos and the originals, will get the most use out of this record. But really, they are the only listeners who will appreciate these new versions, or appreciate the ire that the band holds against its label. Casual fans may find this entertaining enough, particularly if they're just listening to it in passing, but given the choice, they'll choose the versions they remember from modern rock radio and 120 Minutes. And they do have the choice -- after all, a genuine hits album arrived in stores the very day this Redux did.

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