The David Lowery Showdown: Camper Van Beethoven versus Cracker

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With singer David Lowery fronting both Camper Van Beethoven and Cracker (and with both scheduled to play the Granada Theater this Saturday), it is a good time to compare and contrast these two exceptional bands. Cracker has always seemed to get a bad rap because the band is not as experimental or quirky as Camper Van Beethoven, but what Cracker lacks in eccentricity, it makes up for in energy and focus. Let us look at the best of what each band has to offer.

Best album:

Camper: It may be sacrilege to the band's earliest fans, but Our Beloved Revolutionary Sweetheart (the band's first major label release) is their very best. Released on Virgin in 1988, the album is as straightforward as the band would ever get. Songs like "Eye of Fatima" (both parts) and "She Divines Water" feature the international flavor that was always an integral part of the band.

Cracker: Although not as well received as the band's first two releases, The Golden Age may well be the best Cracker effort. "I Hate My Generation" is by far the hardest the band has ever rocked. The rest of the album followed suit making it the perfect introduction to Cracker.

Best cover song:

Camper: The entire Fleetwood Mac album TUSK. Released in 2002, this deconstruction of one of the most interesting albums in rock is a ramshackle, unpolished affair. What better to represent these weirdos?

Cracker: "Good Times Bad Times" done for a Zeppelin tribute album. Lowery adds just the right amount of slacker disrespect to this rock and roll warhorse.

Most ex-members:

Cracker (12) beats Camper (10), but many of these musicians ended up playing in both bands. The best replacement member would have to be bassist Bob Rupe, who came over from The Silos in time to play on Cracker's third album.

So which band is better?

Camper made more of an impact on the underground scene, but that's precisely why Lowery chose to go more (relatively) mainstream with Cracker. Frankly, I find Cracker a lot more listenable these days and there is probably a reason why they are headlining this tour.

In the end, just call them 1A and 1B, basically a big group of goofy guys that divide into two camps when it's time to play. You may even think of Lowery as the luckiest guy around, as not many frontmen get to return to their original bands.

Best thing to do when this show is over: Take the skinheads bowling, eat a little key lime pie and party down with some euro-trash girl.

Cracker and Camper Van Beethoven perform on Saturday, July 27, at the Granada Theater.

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