Tuesday, 1 May 2012

Cracker – Kerosene Hat

Collectively Chameleon

And now for the album itself – not one of the greats for me – yet in the early 90s this had enough heaviness to become a part of the rock renaissance I have been writing about recently: but it is more punk than grunge, the opening three tracks, including single Low, leaning loosely to the former.

What really appealed was the title track, a languid narrative with one of those obtuse storylines that pulls you into its uncertain depths, the guitar lick providing a balladic rock anchor,

How can I fly with these old doggy wings
While the magpie sings some shiny song?
Old corn face, row of teeth
She says sweetly to me in the elevator

Everything seems like a dream
And life's a scream

Here come old Kerosene Hat
With his ear flaps waxed, a-courting his girl
Come clattering in here on your old cloven skates
With that devilish spoon

Everything seems like a dream
And life's a scream
When you're submarine

So don't you bother me, death
With your leathery ways and your old chaise lounge
Wickerman's fence of leathery tyres
And the cook's gone bad, started several fires

Everything seems like a dream
When you're submarine

Head like a stream, she says softly to me
From the rattling chair
"Bring me a steak and my old pair of crows
My medicine lamp"

Everything seems like a dream
So life's a scream

This is followed by another folkrock song Take Me Down To The Infirmary with more lyrical as well as musical echoes of the past, here sounding like the Stones, if only marginally. Sweet Potato has the most rock street cred on the album, again aping TRS, if only partially. I Want Everything is an internal echo of Take Me Down... and reminds of Tom Petty, whilst Lonesome Johnny Blues further establishes its 70s qualifications as a countryrock outing with fiddle and pedal steel cameos. The poles of this album are reflected in tracks eleven and twelve, respectively punk pace in Let’s Go For A Ride and storytelling ballad in Loser, and it is this chameleon collectivism from a past sound that attracted particularly at the time, and entertains though doesn’t grip and hold tight today.

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