Best Cracker Backing Vocal Ever Was Recorded Here.
Cracker and camper van beethoven have recorded tracks for quite a few tribute albums. Tribute albums-if you have been living in a cave in afghanistan and are not familiar with them -are as you might guess tributes to a particular artist- say the kinks. Then a group of current, hip or highly successful artists is selected to re-record the important songs from the tribute artists career. For instance “Cracker” covered Victoria for the “This is where I belong” Kinks tribute album.
Cracker and Camper Van Beethoven have been involved in tribute records for many artists including. The Kinks, Led Zeppelin, The Carpenters, Vic Chestnut and perhaps most bizarrely The Residents.
The Residents were one of the most singularly weird and experimental of all the punk and new wave experimentalist of the late 1970′s. Yes it would have made more sense for Camper Van Beethoven to cover a Residents song. Barely. But Cracker? I mean there the Cracker cover of Victoria by the Kinks makes sense, there is a similar tone to the narrative and style in most kinks songs that seems easily imitable by Cracker. But The Residents?.
The truth is Blue Rosebuds like almost all of the “Cracker” tribute songs were largely a product of the Sound of Music house musicians, myself and Johnny. A curious fact about the tribute tracks is that about half were done without even the contribution from Johnny Hickman or a small after the fact contribution. Before you read anything into that most of this was due to a string of bad luck, personal tragedies, unfortunate timing or a lack of funds to put together a band that lived in 3 separate states in two different time zones. This happened over and over again. Until we began to think we were cursed. So the tribute songs occupy a weird niche between being true cracker songs and collaborations between other artists.
When we went to record Vic Chestnutt’s Withering album Johnny Hickman’s youngest brother passed away and obviously was not able to attend the recording session. Members of September 67, Engineer John Morand and Myself played all the instruments.
Jackson also managed September 67. This was in his flatbread and hummus period.
When we were commissioned to record The Carpenters “Rainy Days and Mondays” Johnny found himself in an inviolable period of not leaving home (Los Angeles at this point )this was imposed by he or then-wife. It was never clear to me. The compromise was we recorded most the tracks in Richmond VA. Mark Linkous fills in for Johnny and plays the most minimal guitar part, I believe it consists of two licks and then just “line hum” through his ampeg reverberocket. He insisted on playing this laying on the floor. Not to be outdone I laid on the floor and sang the vocal. Johnny Hott drops his shaker at one point and it just stops. It randomly starts again when he was able to pick it up. We then sent this to Paul Dugre and Johnny in Los Angeles the strings were overdubbed and then Johnny sings a minimalist backing vocal part equal in to the Mark Linkous two guitar licks. There was a measure of feigned disinterest through the whole song that sort of makes the thing work. But only because it is in contrast to the earnest string arrangement which actually seems to give a shit about the song.
There was no budget for the Blue Rosebuds recording or travel. Also Johnny and I at that time had a general aversion to flying it came about that Blue Rosebuds was recorded by Bob Rupe, John Morand , Penn Rollins (yes Penn Rollins the pioneer of Math Rock and various progressive metal offshoots) and myself. Oh and some unknown prisoner from the Richmond City Jail?
Right in the middle of recording this track we received a collect call from Richmond City Jail. There is an automated voice that announces it is a prisoner form the City Jail and you have to press a key to accept the call. The phone rang and John Morand answered. Suddenly he started madly searching through the cables and adaptors drawers and patches the phone into the console. None of us had any idea what he was doing until we hear through the speakers the anonymous prisoner caller was in the middle of an obscene phone call. At 1:22-1:33 you can hear the prisoners voice.That’s the genius of John Morand. Always be recording. You never know what is gonna happen.
Worst Album Cover Ever. Weirdest Cracker Cover Ever.