Friday, February 24, 2006

Cracker...And More Cracker

Not one, but two Cracker greatest hits sets out this week. The Trib explains why today:
Usually there's little distinction between a "Best of" and "Greatest Hits" collection -- but then again usually a band doesn't have one of each come out on the same day.

Yet on Tuesday two new compilations from veteran alt-rootsy-hooky rockers Cracker hit the stores: "Get on With It: The Best of Cracker" and "Cracker Greatest Hits Redux."

Cracker was so miffed at the label's plans to release "Get on With It" that it went and rerecorded most of the same songs to create "Greatest Hits Redux." The band then pointedly released its version simultaneously through the independent label Cooking Vinyl.

"I guess you could say they consulted with us, but it wasn't like a friendly exchange," Lowery said. "We got a cease-and-desist letter from them."

The problem, he said, was that Cracker had recorded a new album, "Greenland," that it was planning to release in March until Virgin made known its plans to release "Get on With It" in February. The band wound up pushing "Green-land" back to June.

"Our whole point was 'Look, we have a new record coming out. It's not cool to drop a greatest-hits record,' " Lowery said. "As they say in marketing, it sends a wrong message and it gluts the marketplace. But the higher-ups in the [Virgin] legal department said, 'We can do this whether you guys say so or not, so we're going to do it.' "
In figuring out how to respond to this latest conflict with Virgin, Lowery said the bandmates asked, "What would Andy Kaufman do?" When their lawyer noted that the band's restrictions on rerecording most of its songs were expiring, the idea clicked.

"Our lawyer was so confident of the legality of this that he said, `I'll even play some keyboard parts on this,'" Lowery said.


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