Cracker: Movie Star (1993)

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Cracker: Movie Star (1993)

In some liner notes to the 1994 triple-CD box set compilation of tracks from the Virgin label, Martin Aston said of the American band Cracker “with their confidently ramshackle boho-pop they could be the Next Likely To from across the water”.

However despite the critical and commercial success of their Kerosene Hat album – on which this was a track – there were diminishing returns.

But this song certainly captured that ramshackle boho-pop.

I interviewed the two mainmen in New York in 1994 in a bar just off Times Square and they were genuinely nice guys with a bit of history: David Lowery had come from Camper Van Beethoven and Johnny Hickman from . . . .

More of that in a minute.

I can't remember quite why I was in New York and what major interviews I might have got, but I do remember the ones which I did and didn't get published.

I spoke with the wonderful Garland Jeffreys who was still struggling to regain attention after his excellent but overlooked 1977 album Ghost Writer (with the shoulda-been-a-hit Cool Down Boy). His current album was Guts For Love which disappeared without a trace.

By the time I got back to New Zealand his moment had passed so the interview didn't get written up.

More interesting was the interview with Pat DiNizio of the Smithereens. He was garrulous about the forthcoming album A Date With the Smithereens (I had an advance cassette) but digressed into a bit of a rant about grunge and especially Kurt Cobain.

We shook hands at the end and walked into the corridor of the record company where everyone was quiet and ashen.

They just heard that Cobain had blown is head apart.

We agreed the interview wouldn't run.

I also saw Crowded House in concert at a great old theatre off Broadway but don't recall every writing anything about it.

And Cracker?

Things went well until I asked them about their previous bands. Camper Van Beethoven I knew but Hickman's previous experience I was in the dark about.

He said he'd been in a band called The Unforgiven and looked sheepish. He figured I'd never heard of them and it clearly wasn't anything he was especially proud of.

But I did know them and genuinely liked their self-titled spaghetti western hard rock.

He seemed embarrassed by my enthusiasm and when I asked hm what happened to the other guys in the band he dismissively sniffed, “Went back teaching I guess."

After that we laughed and chatted some more but again, by the time I got home there was no interest in Cracker and their album which was about eight months old.

But I always kinda liked them and this ragged and energetic song located somewhere between punk (get the Pistols reference), power pop and indie-rock.


For more oddities, one-offs or songs with an interesting backstory check the massive back-catalogue at From the Vaults.


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