Smash Mouth – Astro Lounge
June 8, 1999
What It Sounds Like: Summertime pop/rock with hints of ska, surf, funk, and vintage guitar overtones, as well as those always welcome, stupidly catchy keyboard riffs. You know the ones I’m talking about – the dominating forces behind the mega hits like Walkin’ On The Sun and All Star. Nobody brings them to the forefront quite like Smash Mouth.
To start off, let’s play a little game called, um, Name That Face.
Alright, are you ready? Studio audience, let’s hear it….!
“Oh, yeah! That’s that Walkin’ On The Sun dude. Um…Steve Harwell! Dude, I loved Smash Mouth back in the day. They has such fun tunes. How would I have survived all the stress of Y2K without Astro Lounge to keep me positive?! Steve, thank you man, for making such great records.”
The dude above is indeed Steve Harwell, and he is the face of Smash Mouth.
Alright, let’s play one more time. Audience?
“Yeah! That’s um….I think that’s uh….Is that the guy who sings…wait, no. It’s not him. Is it Noel Gallag…no. Wait. Little Black Backpack? Yeah, is that him? Or is it…”
Ladies and gentleman, I give you the one and only Greg Camp, the guitarist and songwriter for the band Smash Mouth.
All Star? Written by Camp.
Then The Morning Comes? Camp.
Walkin’ On The Sun? Still Camp.
Virtually everything else in Smash Mouth’s catalog? Mr. Greg Camp everybody.
Countless bands are exactly like this. Everyone recognizes the lead singer, but when it comes to the other members? No idea! I’m guilty in many cases, don’t get me wrong – I’m not above this. I love The Wallflowers, but Jakob Dylan is the only one I know. Matchbox 20? Rob Thomas. Sugar Ray? Mark McGrath. The list goes on and on.
I mention this only because – I’m a Smash Mouth fan – 100%. Their first three records were released when I was eleven, thirteen, and fifteen. How could I not love looking back on this? Steve is a super fun frontman; there is no contest. However, I had to shine a light to Mr. Camp. He’s written some fantastic tracks over the years, and released an awesome solo record called Defektor in 2008 (the review is not written as of today, March 20th 2013, but it certainly will be up in the future). I’m all about giving credit where credit is due. Now, give Greg Camp a round of applause for improving your younger teenage years. No one really writes like him. What other popular band has ever really sounded like Smash Mouth? Are they really that unique? I vote yes!
(insert applause here!)
Alright, four hundred and sixteen words later, let’s get into the actual overview of Astro Lounge, shall we?
I’m sure most of you have owned this CD at some point in your lives. All Star was a radio smash, back in the days where we could still come home from school and watch Carson Daily count down the videos on Total Request Live. You know this song, and you know this band – I’m not interesting in trying to explain a style to you when you already know it – if this was 1999 and the record was just released, I’d be much more thorough. However, this is 2013, and what is worth noting is simply this: Astro Lounge has stood the test of time, and Smash Mouth are far, far, far from being a one-hint wonder on this record. The way the you walk / It’s just the way that you talk / Like it ain’t no thing / And every single day is just a fling / Then the morning comes sings Steve on the absolutely killer, the-sun-is-shining-bright chorus of Then The Morning Comes. He’s always had a unique tone. Listen to that attitude as he sings ain’t no thing – he’s just ready to lay it down. On a scale of one to ten on the fun meter (yes, the fun meter, shut your mouth), it’s about to bust out the top and spill mercury all over the place.
So many good tracks here. I remember being thirteen years old in the summertime, mowing the grass, and listening to this record on my cd player with my headphones, trying my freaking hardest to memorize that dang, speedy pre-chorus on I Just Wanna See.
All the little kids gettin’ down to the rhythm / The boys all shined up chasin’ down the women
A paper boy smilin’ at the job that he’s given / The bugs in the grass and the birds all swimmin’
Mister moon checkin’ on how y’all livin’ / The stars all winkin’ at the day that’s dimmin’
I just wanna see…
Seems easy now. I was proud of myself when I finally got it.
Lead off track Who’s There is a straight sci-fi pop/punker, complete with a warbling keyboard effect that sounds like something straight out of the approahing UFOs in Orson Welles ‘ famous 1938 broadcast hoax. War Of The Worlds anybody? The staccato organ hits and tight-knit drums on Diggin’ Your Scene pack a punch. Road Man takes you to the Caribbean. Those 60’s-style organs on Fallen Horses are pure nostalgia for people that are older than I.
Many more worthy tracks that could be mentioned, but I’ll end off with praise for this uber-pop cover of I Can’t Get Enough Of You Baby.
When you had to go / I hated the thought
I always wish the night was twice as long
My heart crys out / More baby
I love you so much
I wish that there was / More of you to touuuuuuuuuch
It’s laughable now, but I have a distinct memory of being thirteen, listening to those lyrics, and having a very clear thought of, “Dude, I’m going to hell. This is bad. I’m not even married and I’m wanting the night to be twice as long with that girl that sits next to me in Algebra.”
Thank you Smash Mouth. Thank you for being such a great part of my growing up.
If you had to listen to two tracks (besides All Star or Then The Morning Comes): Defeat You / Diggin’ Your Scene