The album consists of two 9-song records, the first focusing on the band's more rock output, with the latter firmly routed in their country tendencies.
The lead-off track "Torches and Pitchforks" is like nothing we've heard from Cracker before. It's almost Byrds-like in it's folk harmonies. It's an anomaly as they quickly retreat to more traditional pop rock/roots rock territory with the affirming "Beautiful" and the energetic "Reaction".
The missteps would be the Spaghetti Western songs "El Commandante" and "El Cerrito". While a couple of other tunes, "Life In the Big City" and "Waited My Whole Life", that are heavily derived from other works ("Suffragette City" and "One Headlight" respectively).
Cracker's country material has often been the best source for their most humorous efforts. However, it has also been responsible for some of their most glacial and bland.
The only real knee-slapper in the bunch is the hook-filled kiss-off "Get On Down the Road". "Tonight I Cross the Border" and "When You Come Down" fill the quotient of dull ditties.
Most stuff falls somewhere in between with the twangy "California Country Boy" and the foot-stomping frenzy of "The San Bernaldino Boy" providing the highlights.
In all it's another solid (or two solid) effort for this under-appreciated act.
Cracker play Lee's Palace in Toronto on January 15th.
Best tracks: "Beautiful", "California Country Boy"
Track listing for Berkeley To Bakersfield:
- Torches and Pitchforks
- March of the Billionaires
- El Commandante
- El Cerrito
- You Got Yourself Into This
- Life In the Big City
- Waited My Whole Life
- California Country Boy
- Almond Grove
- King of Bakersfield
- Tonight I Cross the Border
- Get On Down the Line
- I'm Sorry Baby
- The San Bernaldino Boy
- When You Come Down
- Where Have Those Days Gone