The band returned to producer Don Gehman for this effort, and for the first time brought on additional songwriters for some tracks. Some of these songs hint at Darius Rucker’s move into country music, with a strong bluegrass influence and a number of religious references.
For Hootie & the Blowfish, that time came in 2003. Hootie & the Blowfish was the first album of original material by the band in five years, and the first without producer Don Gehman. Instead, Grammy-winning producer Don Was took the reins and brought more of a pop sheen to the music.
The band rolls through 15 tracks of enjoyable bar rock, mostly covering artists I don’t know, though they do include tracks from R.E.M., The Smiths, Roy Orbison and Led Zeppelin (today’s SOTD, one of the album’s standout tracks).
So their third album, 1998’s Musical Chairs, is completely new to me. And that’s a shame, because after a couple of listens, and despite the major hits on their debut, I think this album is better than either of the first two.
Back in 2012, I posted a track from Hootie and the Blowfish’s 1994 smash Cracked Rear View, marvelled at the meteoric rise and just-as-quick fall of the band, and suggested that “it’s about time it became cool to like Hootie again.”
I guess I was on to something. The band is currently packing arenas on a reunion tour, and recently the New York Times’ pop music critic Jon Caramanica published a piece titled ‘Hootie & the Blowfish, Great American Rock Band (Yes, Really).’