Recommended Albums #41

smash mouthSmash Mouth: Fush Yu Mang (1997)

Now just hold on there a sec. I know what you’re thinking. Or at least I know what you’re not thinking: that “Hey now, you’re an all-star“, Disney-soundtrack lightweights Smash Mouth couldn’t offer you any musical surprises.

I’d beg to differ. Prior even to “Walkin’ On the Sun” beginning it’s stupefying 60-week chart stranglehold in July of ’97, I took a flyer on their debut album based on a review in Goldmine magazine.

Come to think of it, that’s also where I read about Barenaked Ladies’ debut Gordon album, and liked them way before it was…uh…

Anyway, “Walkin’ On the Sun ” was the only song from Fush Yu Mang to grace the American pop charts, although a cover of War’s “Why Can’t We Be Friends” did make a dent in the Alternative top 40. Within a year, the follow-up LP was out and there were no further efforts to cull singles from the debut. Not that there were any more hits, but there were, in my opinion, some very entertaining songs that deserved wider exposure.

I think.

The one necessary caveat is that the “Walkin’ On the Sun” isn’t representative of the album. Smash Mouth was a ska-punk band at this stage; the evolution to their signature catchy, farfisa-drenched retro pop sound was basically complete by the second album. But what we have with Fush Yu‘s album tracks is trashy hyperactive ska with sly, rapid-fire lyrics that are worth a replay if you don’t catch them on first listen.

“Pet Names” tells of a love affair gone stale through the lens of those cutesy love “handles”. “Padrino” takes a cheeky poke at the mob. “Disconnect the Dots” has riffs galore, and makes me wonder if someone put a bunch of pills in Herb Alpert’s espresso and invited him to play along.

It may be too late to revise your opinion of the band; or maybe you like the sound of “I’m a Believer” Smash Mouth better. That’s certainly valid. But I think it’s worth knowing that before they made that right turn onto Main Street, they careened breathlessly through some relatively interesting neighborhoods–places where Shrek definitely wouldn’t hang out.

Listen to: “Let’s Rock”

Listen to: “Pet Names”

Listen to” “Padrino”

Listen to: “Disconnect the Dots”

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