A Look Back, Twenty Years Later: Hootie and the Blowfish – Musical Chairs

Posted by Greg on Aug 15, 2018 in Music |

Hootie_&_the_Blowfish_Musical_Chairs_CD_cover

We’re exactly a month away from the 20th anniversary of Musical Chairs, the third release from South Carolina icons Hootie and the Blowfish. Having recently seen the band at their annual Hootie Homegrown Festival, we’ve been on somewhat of a Hootie kick over here at the SITH headquarters. Naturally it has led us to this criminally underrated album.

Easily their most consistent and best produced album, Musical Chairs is the apex in their discography. Despite that it remains an album few if any remember. Steady radio rockers “I Will Wait,” “Answer Man” and “Wishing” were partnered with country offerings “Las Vegas Nights,” “Michelle Post” and “Desert Mountain Showdown.”

Sandwiched in between all these were the yearning piano ballad “Only Lonely” (a song written for the You’ve Got Mail soundtrack but never used in the film) and a handful of offerings that seem like Cracked Rear View b-sides (”Home Again,” “One by One” and “What Do You Want From Me Now?). Each of the aforementioned tracks is worth repeated listens but few, if any, deserve as much attention as the searing rocker “Bluesy Revolution” and the damn-perfect “What’s Going On Here?,” a classic-sounding soul ballad that finds Rucker at his absolute best.

Musical Chairs did go platinum and charted as high as 4 on the US Billboard 200 and was top 20 in UK, Scotland and New Zealand. The album’s only single “I Will Wait” peaked at 3 on the Adult Top 40 chart and 28 on the Adult Contemporary chart. After that though, the band never picked up steam. Atlantic released the covers project Scattered, Smothered and Covered in 2000 but the album seemed to only appease die-hard fans and never found any traction. A 2003 self-titled album with Don Was actually has some of the band’s more inspired songs but failed to deliver to anyone beyond the diehards.

Vanguard Records would release their final album, 2005’s Looking for Lucky and a 2006 live album titled Live in Charleston. Two years later Rucker would embark on a solo career and well, the rest is history. Hootie and the Blowfish is now just a regional favorite, playing charity gigs like Monday After the Masters and the aforementioned Hootie Homegrown festival.

Surprises from the band are rare. Their opening slot for Jason Aldean in Atlanta earlier this year remains an anamoly and naturally, a high point. Rucker has gone on record as saying Hootie will record another album but whether that actually happens remains to be seen. Mark Bryan continues his busy schedule as an in-demand producer, instrumentalist and consultant for many burgeoning Charleston musicians. He’s also released three albums and recently started the public broadcasting series Live at Charleston Music Hall. Jim “Soni” Sonefeld released a solo album in 2008 and has recently switched over to the Christian genre, releasing an album in 2012 and a book shortly after. The quietest of the bunch remains Dean Felber, who had a short-lived restaurant in Tampa.

With their glory days long behind them, for now the records remain and none of theirs shines brighter than Musical Chairs. Head to the band’s music microsite to hear the album in its entirety. Twenty years, it still holds up.

1 Comment

Bob Frazer
Aug 17, 2018 at 1:43 pm

Awesome write-up bossman – it is one of the best albums I have in rotation and you hit it on the head when you say it was/is under-appreciated! I always tell folks – go to a Hootie show live or attend Hootie Homegrown and you will forever be a Hootie fan….even if you didn’t care for them beforehand. They put so much energy into it and their fanbase shows up every-time and it’s just carefree fun! Great seeing you this year at Hootie Homegrown bud! Cheers!


 

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