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Hootie and The Blowfish Live in Charleston

Other // Unrated // August 8, 2006
List Price: $18.98 [Buy now and save at Amazon]

Review by Louis Howard | posted October 3, 2006 | E-mail the Author
Hootie and the Blowfish is a band originally formed at the University of South Carolina by Darius Rucker, Dean Felber, Jim "Soni" Sonefeld and Mark Ryan; the name refers to two friends of singer/guitarist Rucker, rather than he and the group. I'm likely to catch some flak for this, but one of the reasons I chose to review this disc is because of my view on Hootie and the Blowfish in the musical scheme of things. Everyone is familiar with the term "one hit wonder"- a band or artist who comes out of nowhere, scores a major hit, and is more or less never heard from again. I've always been of the opinion that this particular group is pretty much the role model for what I call a "one album wonder"; and while there seem to have been plenty of them in the last ten to fifteen years with the impact that alternative and grunge music's popularity has made on the mainstream market, none are as extreme an example as these guys.

Their debut album, "Cracked Rear View" was a juggernaut- released in the fall of 1994, its first single, "Hold My Hand" made its way into the Top Ten at the beginning of 1995, taking the album to number one along as well. The second hit was massive- "Let her Cry" seemingly was played on the radio at any given time of day for months. They pulled a third hit off the release, "Only Wanna Be With You" which kept the album in the limelight and selling unit after unit; by early 1996 the release had sold an amazing 13 million copies in the U.S. alone. They also won the "Best New Artist" award at the 1996 Grammy Awards.

The band released their second album, "Fairweather Johnson" in the spring of 1996, entering the charts at number one on the strength of their previous release. It sold two million copies in its first four months and eventutually totaled four million units in sales, but didn't produce any hit singles in the manner their first effort had. To date the group has released nine albums, the last being "Looking For Lucky" in August 2005. So, what happened? In many cases a band will hit the bigtime on their debut, only to put themselves under enormous pressure to pull another ace out their sleeve, and when sophmore efforts don't hold up or strike the masses with the same resonance as before, both the radio stations and the fickle listener-buyer walks away, never bothering to afford that artist another chance. Yup, I'll admit it. I've been one of the majority in this case, buying the second CD, not hearing anything that bowled me over and never listening to the material they're released since. I've seen their name listed playing small clubs, certainly not the sort of venues one would associate with a multi-platinum selling band. When I saw that Hootie had released a live show on DVD, I was curious to find out what I've been missing for the last decade or so.

Here is a track list of the songs performed-

1. State Your Peace
2. Time
3. Space
4. Hannah Jane
5. Hey Sister Pretty
6. Running From an Angel
7. One Love
8. Look Away
9. Leaving
10. I Hope That I Don't Fall in Love
11. Desert Mountain Showdown
12. Let Her Cry
13. I Go Blind
14. Old Man and Me
15. Drowning
16. Get Out of My Mind
17. Hold My Hand
18. Go and Tell Him (Soup Song
19. The Killing Stone
20. Only Want to Be With You


Clocking in at a bit over 80 minutes, this show was filmed in August, 2005 at the Family Circle Magazine Stadium in their hometown of Charleston, S.C. and the rather sizable venue looks to be packed; in the opening five minutes of the disc it is explained that this is a benefit performance given in order to buy supplies for a local school, so there are two inducements for filling the place up before the band hits the stage.

The immediate impression you get from HATB's signature sound is feel good music, and the setlist for this concert is certainly no exception. Their sound is a curious, attractive blend of a number of genres, rock, Cajun, bluegrass, and contemporary country seem to be incorporated into most every song they play. They have a distinctive sound which one immediately recognizes. Any of the songs played here could have been included on their "Cracked Rear View" release and fit right in. Alas, that may be part of the problem; from the material offered here the sound doesn't seem to change much from their early stuff to the present day fare- their songlist is very strong but nothing seems to be a stretch past their original breakout album.

These guys are entertainers, and from the time they hit the stage the group caters to and entertains the packed house, intent on doing just that. Lead vocalist Darius Rucker has a strong, gravelly soulful voice- from what I understand, he has releasd one solo album to date, "Back To Then". It would be nice to hear him do some more diverse material, or to hear another of the band members singing lead on song or two. The Hootie sound is definitely distinctive, but neither the new material or the rest of the group stand out nearly as much as Rucker's voice. They are a strong band and theirs is certainly engaging music with solid melodies and decent lyrics, but one can see why they might have a difficult time adding to their fan base these days. Their roots are unmistakably modern country; if anything they seem to have veered further in that direction, yet when they had their massive hit album it was with the rock audience, an audience that is wooed and catered to with either harder sounds or hip hop offerings in the present.



Video-

Aspect ratio appears to be 1.78:1 widescreen. This is a very well filmed show with an equally strong transfer to disc; sharpness is very good and colors appear well represented across the board. One would have trouble finding alot to complain about here.

Audio-

The two choices here are Dolby Digital 5.1 and 2.0 Stereo; the 5.1 track is very strong; clean, crisp and smooth with sufficient dynamics to please most listeners.

Extras-

No extras.

Final Thoughts-

If you're even a casual Hootie and the Blowfish fan there is no reason in the world this release should be a disappointment. This is a Hootiefest, and I highly recommend it to their followers; the band plays a strong, tight set with their most recognized hits as well as including later material spanning their last several album releases. Technically, the disc is rock solid in the audio and video department, well filmed and mixed. My problem lies with the material; in my opinion it simply isn't diverse enough for a band thats been around as long as this one has. Still, its a strong enough release to recommend it.
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