Charleston, SC 1966

Say what you will about Hootie and the Blowfish's profound mediocrity — their massive success was merely the launching pad for Darius Rucker's true calling: country. On his Nashville debut, Rucker's rich baritone, sentimental ballads and bright hooks made him the most successful African-American country singer since Charley Pride. Rucker amps up that formula on album number two, delivering a swaggering honky-tonk frat-boy duet with Brad Paisley ("I Don't Care"), a cutesy tale of domestic bliss about sneaking a little nooky while the kids ain't lookin' ("Might Get Lucky") and a road song that finds him pining for sweet tea and chivalry ("Southern State of Mind"). Rucker's country may be little more than Hootie with fiddles, but that's progress.