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CD Reviews: Review of All Star Smash Hits by Smash Mouth
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Click here to buy yourself a copy from Amazon.com Smash Mouth: All Star Smash Hits (Interscope 2005)

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Webster’s Dictionary defines the phrase “guilty pleasure” as...well, actually, it doesn’t define the term at all, but this is only because it’s not in there. This omission is a shame, as any definition of said phrase would almost certainly include the words “Smash Mouth” and “All Star” in some capacity, and would therefore be perfect to quote in this review. The book does, however, define the word “ubiquitous,” and, as most anyone who lived between 1997 and 2001 would surely agree, if “existing or being everywhere at the same time; constantly encountered” doesn’t describe the music of Smash Mouth to a ‘T,’ few phrases do.

Ironically, it’s this fact – that the band was virtually inescapable for a period of about five years – that makes them a guilty pleasure. While no statistics are currently available to actually back up the statement that will follow the next comma, there is reason to believe that there is no-one remaining on the planet who ever needs to hear the song “All Star” ever again. Still, somewhere in the back of your mind – probably buried beneath a layer of synapses screaming, “Out, out, damned song!” – you remember when you first heard it and said, “This is a fucking great single!” Just because you remember that, however, doesn’t mean that you want to admit it in public nowadays...because, really, is it worth the verbal flogging that would result from such a confession?

For better or worse, “All Star” is the lead track on Smash Mouth’s appropriately titled greatest hits collection, All Star Smash Hits. Either you get to enjoy it right off the bat, no waiting, or you can skip past it altogether and move on to the band’s first hit, “Walking on the Sun,” which is Track 2. Anyone who blew their money on Fush Yu Mang (the band’s debut) because they thought the whole album would be as good as its first single will be pleased to have access to the song without all the excess baggage with which it was originally packaged. The singles from the band’s third, self-titled disc, “Holiday In My Head” and the brilliant faux ‘70s swirl of “Pacific Coast Party,” are here as well, plus lesser-charting – but no less solid – singles from throughout Smash Mouth’s career, like “Then The Morning Comes,” “Diggin’ Your Scene,” their cover of “Can’t Get Enough Of You, Baby,” and “Hang On,” from their most recent (and most forgettable) album, Get The Picture?

All Star Smash Hits also does a serviceable job of compiling several of the band’s contributions to various soundtracks, including an utterly kick-ass cover of Let’s Active’s “Every Word Means No,” solid takes on Steely Dan (“Do It Again”) and the Beatles (“Getting Better”), and – ugh – their almost-as-overplayed-as-“All Star” version of the Monkees’ “I’m A Believer,” taken from the “Shrek” soundtrack.

As best-of collections go, this one handily does the trick to remind folks that, overplayed or not, these guys have always had a way with a fun, radio-friendly single. That farfisa beat never fails to scream Smash Mouth, and Steve Harwell’s voice is a distinctive one....so much so, unfortunately, that twenty songs in a row may be a bit too much for some to take. Still, if you need a soundtrack to your next party and want something that you know everyone will like...well, there’s no such disc. But if you can make it past “All Star” without having someone attack your speakers with a carving knife, yelling, “Die! Die!,” All Star Smash Hits will at least serve to keep everyone’s toes tapping cheerily along. 

~Will Harris 


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