Friday, June 12, 2009

Smash Mouth – Fush Yu Mang (1997)

Back while I was still in grade school, me and my brother got our first big CD player. So what do two not-yet-teenagers do with a CD player and a mother’s membership in Columbia House? Why, order every CD from a band with a hit of course! This led to us getting a Barenaked Ladies album in the wake of “One Week,” grabbing Sugar Ray’s CD because of “Fly” and even ordering Chumbawumba’s “Tubthumper.”

The CDs we got were a mixed bag to say the least. The Sugar Ray album was unmemorable. Barenaked Ladies and Matchbox 20 both surprised us with more great songs beyond the one we bought the album for. The one from Smash Mouth? Didn’t get played.

A couple of years later, I hear some catchy tunes coming from my brother’s bedroom. He was playing Smash Mouth’s album “Fush Yu Mang” in its entirety. And so, here we are.

Smash Mouth came onto the scene with their hit “Walkin’ on the Sun” in 1997. It got considerable airplay on the radio, MTV and VH1 alongside Third Eye Blind, Sugar Ray and Matchbox 20 back in the day. I doubt a majority of the two million people who bought “Fush Yu Mang” explored it beyond the single.

What they missed was an interesting album of catchy ska and punk-influenced songs. I feel like there are some unexplored radio hits in this mix.

Track listing:
1 – Flo (2:11)
2 – Beer Goggles (2:00)
3 – Walkin’ on the Sun (3:26)
4 – Let’s Rock (2:49)
5 – Heave-Ho (3:46)
6 – The Fonz (3:38)
7 – Pet Names (2:19)
8 – Padrino (3:44)
9 – Nervous in the Alley (2:31)
10 – Disconnect the Dots (2:49)
11 – Push (2:49)
12 – Why Can’t We Be Friends (4:45)

Based on listening to this album, I drew a parallel between Smash Mouth and AC/DC. Both bands have signature instrumentation and a unique lead singer. Outside of “Walking on the Sun,” the other 11 songs share a distinct style. They sound somewhat similar, but the clever lyrics, hooks and riffs help each song stand out. Much like AC/DC.

The tracks on this album leave you wanting more and don’t overstay their welcome. The laid back sound and commercial-tagline-filled chorus of “Walking on the Sun” remain as catchy as they were in 1997. Personal highlights for me include “Flo” and “Beer Goggles,” songs I quickly latched onto and sing along with. “Heave-Ho” is a fun tale of a whiny neighbor. “Pet Names” is a clever one about becoming the ex-boyfriend. The album has a fitting close with a capable cover of War’s “Why Can’t We Be Friends.”


Perhaps the ska-type guitar work and horn section would throw off fans of Smash Mouth’s chart-toppers, especially with ska not in vogue. Maybe I’m just a sucker for rocking out and having a good time. This album delivers just that. A lot of punch and a lot of fun.

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