College Countdown: 90FM’s Top 90 of 1996, 28 and 27

barenaked pirate
28. Barenaked Ladies, Born on a Pirate Ship

Being cult heroes to chipper nerds can be highly lucrative. Even before that bit of cultural cachet undoubtedly helped Barenaked Ladies land the job of providing the theme song to The Big Bang Theory–which alone probably has them set for life considering the sitcom’s enormous success–the Canadian group had a legion of followers prepared to sing along with every wryly humorous song. Born on a Pirate Ship was the band’s third album, and it arguably did something its immediate predecessor couldn’t manage: it added songs to the band’s repertoire that rivaled the fan favorite from their debut, Gordon. This may be because the band’s chief songwriters, Steven Page and Ed Robertson, worked more closely together, a practice they’d largely abandoned on their sophomore effort. Still, they remained obscure enough that the cult hero designation still fit nicely. It wouldn’t be until their next studio effort that the Barenaked Ladies had their true commercial breakthrough.

cracker golden
27. Cracker, The Golden Age

Cracker, on the other hand, were learning what the career downswing was going to be like. Seemingly poised to claim a lasting place on the rock ‘n’ roll firmament when their sophomore album, Kerosene Hat (led by the single “Low”) garnered significant crossover airplay, the outfit led by former Camper Van Beethoven frontman David Lowery found out that prior success wasn’t necessarily going to be that easy to build upon. Their third album, The Golden Age (with a cover that somewhat evoked the Camper Van Beethoven standout Our Beloved Revolutionary Sweetheart), was little more than blip, with commercial alternative radio moving on fairly quickly from the singles “I Hate My Generation” and “Nothing to Believe In.” It’s too bad, because The Golden Age was probably the strongest album Cracker released, at least up until that point. And they got even better, at least for a while, but each subsequent release was met with increasing disinterest. Still, the band persevered, never really breaking up, although it’s mostly a shifting group of backing musicians behind Lowery and Johnny Hickman. They’ve released new music as recently as 2009, essentially as Lowery bounces back and forth between the group and various endeavors with the revived Camper Van Beethoven.

Previously…
An Introduction
–90 and 89: Antichrist Superstar and Three Snakes and One Charm
–88 and 87: No Code and Unplugged
–86 and 85: Greatest Hits Live and Gilded Stars and Zealous Hearts
–84 and 83: To the Faithful Departed and God’s Good Urges
–82 and 81: Billy Breathes and Sweet F.A.
–80 and 79: The Process and Test for Echo
–78 and 77: Supersexy Swingin’ Sounds and Breathe
–76 and 75: Bob Mould and Walking Wounded
–74 and 73: It’s Martini Time and Trainspotting soundtrack
–72 and 71: Aloha Via Satellite and Fever In Fever Out
–70 and 69: Hi My Name is Jonny and One Mississippi
–68 and 67: Everything Sucks and The Aeroplane Flies High
–66 and 65: First Band on the Moon and Razorblade Suitcase
–64 and 63: Comic Book Whore and Peachfuzz
–62 and 61: All Change and Rude Awakening
–60 and 59: 12 Golden Country Greats and Songs in the Key of X
–58 and 57: Brain Candy soundtrack and Pinkerton
–56 and 55: Sublime and Count the Days
–54 and 53: Wild Mood Swings and The Cult of Ray
–52 and 51: Bringing Down the Horse and Crash
–50 and 49: No Talking, Just Head and New Adventures in Hi-Fi
–48 and 47: Lay It Down and Pogue Mahone
–46 and 45: I’m with Stupid and XTORT
–44 and 43: Tango and …finally
–42 and 41: Good Weird Feeling and Mint 400
–40 and 39: Happy Nowhere and Not Fade Away (Remembering Buddy Holly)
–38 and 37: Turn the Radio Off and Electriclarryland
–36 and 35: Naughty Little Doggie and In Blue Cave
–34 and 33: Eventually and Schoolhouse Rock! Rocks
–32 and 31: Beautiful Girls soundtrack and Strat’s Got Your Tongue
–30 and 29: Upstroke for the Downfolk and Set the Twilight Reeling