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Pop - Released June 21, 2011 | Rhino Atlantic

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Pop - Released May 31, 2019 | Rhino Atlantic


Pop - Released July 1, 1994 | Atlantic Records

Hootie & the Blowfish's debut album, Cracked Rear View, was the success story of 1994/1995, selling over 12 million copies. It's a startling, large number, especially for a new band, but in some ways, the success of the record isn't that surprising. Although Hootie & the Blowfish aren't innovative, they deliver the goods, turning out an album of solid, rootsy folk-rock songs that have simple, powerful hooks. "Hold My Hand" has a singalong chorus that epitomizes the band's good-times vibes. None of the tracks transcend their generic status, but they are strong songs for their genre, with crisp chords and bright melodies. Still, the songs wouldn't be convincing without the emotive vocals of Darius Rucker, whose gruff baritone has more grit than the actual songs. At their core, Hootie & the Blowfish are a bar band, but they managed to convince millions of listeners that they were the local bar band, and that's why Cracked Rear View was a major success. ~ Stephen Thomas Erlewine

Pop - Released April 16, 1996 | Atlantic Records

Following up a debut as successful as Cracked Rear View would be intimidating for most groups, but it had to be especially daunting for such a direct, straightforward combo as Hootie & the Blowfish. What made Cracked Rear View such a success was its very unpretentiousness; how each song sounded like it was the crowd-pleaser from the local bar band. Hootie & the Blowfish haven't lost that universal appeal on their second album, Fairweather Johnson, but they have been able to add more weight to their music. While the essential formula of Hootie's music hasn't changed -- Darius Rucker still belts out anthemic choruses over interweaving acoustic guitars -- the band is stronger and more muscular, giving their simple, direct melodies powerful support. They also have learned how to shade their music with varying dynamics and subtle arrangements, which also adds depth to the band. And behind the bright, singalong melodies, Rucker has hidden some surprisingly introspective and searching lyrics, tackling everything from racism to heartbreak. Hootie & the Blowfish still have a bit of trouble coming up with a set of consistently engaging songs, but the weakest moments on Fairweather Johnson resonate more than those on Cracked Rear View, while the best moments eclipse those on the debut. It's a surprisingly assured and effective second album. ~ Stephen Thomas Erlewine

Pop - Released March 4, 2003 | Rhino Atlantic

It's been five years since listeners last heard from Hootie & the Blowfish (not counting 2000's odds-and-ends assortment Scattered, Smothered and Covered), and those who might have been expecting a dramatic departure from the radio-friendly guitar rock of the band's previous three regular albums will be either relieved or disappointed, depending on how they felt about it to begin with. But make no mistake: Those who accuse this band of being lightweight and terminally poppy are not only missing the point, they are also giving in to the worst kind of rock & roll snobbery -- the kind that says pop music really ought to be anything other than fun. On the other hand, those who accuse frontman Darius Rucker of sometimes delivering his lightweight, poppy songs with a bombast that is all out of proportion to their substance are actually onto something: Just consider the chesty roar with which he delivers couplets about, for example, minor domestic and emotional discomfort ("You need a little space/And I need mine"). But unlike Bono or Creed's Scott Stapp, Rucker's mistake is not in taking himself or his lyrics too seriously; it's just that that's the way he sings everything, and that big, chesty roar is a big part of what makes him fun to listen to. Mainly, of course, what make him fun to listen to are his songs' irresistible hooks, and this album has those in spades: "Deeper Side," the country-inflected "Little Darlin'" (which cries out to be covered by the Blasters), and a respectful cover version of the Continental Drifters' "Rain Song" are all perfect for singing along with in the car, while "Tears Fall Down" and the power ballad "Innocence" should have even the most jaded power pop snob digging in his jeans for a lighter. They're not trying to save the world, folks -- this is just rock & roll. And most people who say they don't like it are kidding themselves. ~ Rick Anderson

Pop - Released October 24, 2000 | Atlantic Records

It's easy to make fun of Hootie & the Blowfish because they are what everyone says they are -- a bar band made good. Since they were a bar band from the early '90s, it shouldn't come as a surprise that they knocked out Smiths and R.E.M. covers along with songs from the Led Zeppelin and Bill Withers songbooks -- this was the music of the time, and they were a band of their time. All of this surfaces on their B-sides and rarities collection, Scattered, Smothered and Covered. As these 15 covers songs sound slightly less memorable than their big hits, it occurs to you that this must be how Hootie & the Blowfish sounded in Southern college bars before they recorded Cracked Rear View -- they're amiable, good-humored, earnest, and likable. Since the big hits are missing, the group sounds a bit like a local act, too -- the kind of group that wrote sturdy songs but never found a transcendent hook -- but that's not a bad thing, since that's always been part of their charm. And, the fact is, this band has real affection for jangle-pop-derived rock. They knew enough to dig out "I Go Blind," a good old 54-40 song, and place it on the Friends soundtrack at the height of the show's popularity, so they could make the guys some money. It's hard to hate a band that does that, and that lends a certain charm even to an album like Scattered, Smothered and Covered, which is as uneven as any rarities collection (and, of course, only necessary for the hardcore), but blessed with an unexpected charm, since it proves in the best possible way that Hootie & the Blowfish really were America's bar band of the '90s. ~ Stephen Thomas Erlewine

Pop - Released September 15, 1998 | Atlantic Records

Although Hootie & the Blowfish delivered a fine second album, they had no hope of matching the phenomenal success of their debut, Cracked Rear View, so Fairweather Johnson was perceived as a flop, even though it moved over two million copies. In a way, that perception of failure was the best thing that could have happened to the band. With the spotlight being shone somewhere else (Alanis Morissette, to be exact), Hootie & the Blowfish could return to what they loved best -- playing music and being in a band. Musical Chairs, the group's third album, illustrates what a blessing it was for the group. Despite a couple of production flourishes, such as the occasional horn section and strings, it's no breakthrough or stylistic departure -- it's simply a well-made album, filled with catchy tunes. In other words, it's exactly like their first two records, but the performances are more kinetic and fun than on Fairweather Johnson, and the songs are arguably as consistent as those on Cracked Rear View. That's why Musical Chairs feels a bit like a comeback, but it really shouldn't be viewed that way -- it's just a consolidation of their talents and further proof that Hootie & the Blowfish are a fine mainstream pop/rock band. ~ Stephen Thomas Erlewine

Pop - Released March 2, 2004 | Rhino Atlantic


Pop - Released April 7, 2015 | Rhino Atlantic


Pop - Released July 7, 2009 | Rhino Atlantic


Pop - Released July 7, 2009 | Rhino Atlantic