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Released: 30th September 2002.

Uncle Kracker - No Stranger To ShameUncle Kracker first made his name with the release of his debut LP, "Double Wide". Before that, he could be found in Kid Rock's "Twisted Brown Trucker" band. The link continues, as Kid Rock is the executive producer of this CD. At least we can count ourselves fortunate that his musical influences on this record are somewhat limited.

The album kicks off with a short, if not slightly arrogant, summary of Uncle Kracker's career, with the upbeat, catchy "Keep It Coming". It's a promising start, not too dissimilar from many favourites from "Double Wide". Indeed, the album does build upon the success of the first disc. However, if it's a repetition of the debut recording you're after, you're likely to be disappointed.

The biggest exception to this rule, though, is "I Don't Know". Not only is this track similar to "Follow Me", but you'd be forgiven for failing to tell the two apart. Maintaining a formula this isn't; rather, it's an almost outright copy of the hit single.

Perhaps the most disappointing songs are tracks 2-4, which sound dated and stale. Uncle Kracker's aim, we're told, is as follows: "Instead of writing songs for today I'm trying to write songs for tomorow. I want it to sound like it could be from 20 years ago or 20 years from now". Here, at least, he's failed, the tracks merging into one long, boring and uneventful mess. Let's be honest, they hardly entice to listen on. Fortunately, I can assure you that things do get better. And the good news is that you don't have to wait much longer, either.

The fifth track is a superb cover of Dobie Gray's "Drift Away", featuring vocals from Gray himself. The vocals melt perfectly into the production of the track to create an excellent rendition of the country-soul classic. Another highlight is the title track, "No Stranger To Shame", a song that flows extremely well by virtue of excellent production as well as vocals from Sugar Ray's frontman Mark McGrath.

Finally, I ought to mention the bonus track, "After School Special". Special it isn't, and is hardly worth listing to the preceding minute of silence for.

On the whole, this follow-up to the successful debut does make the grade. However, it's also far from spectacular and is unlikely to win him a huge following of new fans. Overall, it's worth a listen, though perhaps not your pocket money.

Best track: "Drift Away"
Worst track: "Thunderhead Hawkins"

* * * (DS)

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