Hootie & The Blowfish
"Cracked Rear View," released in '94, was from a southeastern band that had done a bit of recording previously. When the dust settled Hootie and the Blowfish had the #3 best selling debut album of all time, behind Whitney Houston and Meatloaf's "Bat Out Of Hell."
Their second and third CDs "Fairweather Johnson" and "Musical Chairs," while not reaching the first CD's rarified heights, still did exceptionally well. The group owned an instant reputation for producing melodic Rock provided by the trio of Mark Bryan (guitar), Dean Felber (bass) and Jim "Soni" Sonefeld (drums). A tight unit. But the group's true ace was Darius Rucker, a former choir vocalist. In fact, the nicknames of two of his University of South Carolina choir mates Hootie and Blowfish provided the group's moniker. Rucker was especially interesting because he absorbed such divergent influences; from Soul great Al Green to KISS.
The hits poured from the group composed "Cracked Rear View," (starting with the Rock ballad "Hold My Hand") and they didn't subside until mid '95 (over a year run) with "Only Wanna Be With You" doing the best on the pop charts.
Keeping their musical style intact, "Fairweather Johnson," was lyrically more emotional and self-searching. While this CD also turned out hits, "Tucker Town," was the best effort with tight harmonies and a Rock solid hook. The somewhat muted "Musical Chairs" rolled out in '98. Six years later, a career retrospective "The Best Of Hootie & The Blowfish" was released. But the group wasn't quite done. In '05, they issued their fifth studio album, "Looking For Lucky."
A few years after Hootie & The Blowfish bit the dust, Rucker launched a Country music career beginning with '08's "Learn To Live." There was some initial skepticism given that Rucker was a Rock vet (to say nothing of being an African-American - the number of successful African-American Country singers can be counted on one hand). His debut single, "Don't Think I Don't Think About It," cracked the Top 20 and the album went platinum. His second Country album, "Charleston, SC 1966," dropped in '10.
1994 Cracked Rear View Mirror
1996 Fairweather Johnson
1998 Musical Chairs
2003 Hootie & The Blowfish
2005 Looking For Lucky
"Cracked Rear View Mirror" was a huge success. Great songs, great performances and a load of media hype. The only way Hootie and the Blowfish could have topped that was to be proclaimed the "new" Beatles. Didn't happen. While not as fresh or as accomplished as "Cracked," "Fairweather Johnson" and "Musical Chairs" still deliver the goods.
Used to be when a group accumulated four or five hits their record label rushed out a "greatest hits" collection featuring chart toppers, b-sides, singles that stiffed and a couple new tracks. It usually became the group's best selling album.
Now, before going the "greatest hits" route, labels wait until they are absolutely, positively certain there is no one left who will buy the group's albums in their original configuration. This extended gestation period often yields a better collection but arrives long after the group has fallen off the radar. So who cares? Well, for the nostalgic or those with a fondness for mid-90s pop-Rock, '04 release "The Best Of Hootie & The Blowfish" will do the trick. The 17 track set has all the hits and worthwhile LP material.
Record companies seem reluctant to cut a one-time major act loose unless or until they have totally tanked. There's always a chance (however remote) that the group could do it again. That goes a long way to explain "Looking For Lucky."