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Review by Brad Green:
A couple of weeks back we were partaking in a national IQ test; now it’s time for a holiday in our collective head. Or so the lyric of the Smash Mouth, smash-your-guitars-attitude opener of this compilation soundtrack informs us. Well, kiddies, I do know where you’re coming from. Whether one is sitting in a schoolroom, bored out of one’s brain by some old geezer rabbiting on about differential calculus; or whether one is rapidly approaching the old geezer stage oneself, and in danger of mental meltdown from spending too much time punching words into a computer, the invitation to give the grey matter a bit of a break is an attractive idea.

Or perhaps they’re not so much suggesting a break, as a new perspective. The prosaic can be a party, if only you’ve got the right stuff going on between your ears. Which for mine is not the stuff of grunge guitars – with due respect to Smash Mouth, whose particular tune has a decent hook, a vocalist in tune and some tight if unimaginative playing. The sad fact is that this places it firmly at the pinnacle of the genre, and it’s hardly a peak of Everest proportions. The remainder of post-punk-alternative-thrash-trash sprawls out on a steeply descending slope, and more than half the tracks here have been gathered from the abyss. 

Interestingly it is the heaviest rocker that soars, with Nickelback adding charisma to pure aggro, and thus lifting their performance to a place where it can Breathe. A couple of the mellower moments on the album stand up too, most notably a song called Space To Share, which if it could only have found an extra gear in the chorus could have delivered its potential as a Joe Jackson-esque classic. And I love the band’s name. Scapegoat Wax. A priceless compound that apparently, under the microscope, breaks down to political survival tactics and retrenchment notices to underperforming football coaches. 

I’m not sure that we can send a greasy globule in the direction of any particular progenitor of rap excesses, but we do have a couple of premier posturers featured here. Kool Keith and Lil’ J almost won me over with their ice-cool rhythms and smooth delivery, until I tweaked to what they’re actually rapping on about. Themselves. I take it that a holiday in their heads is a fantasy world where they can fall in love with their own clones. 

Better value is to be found with Sugar Ray’s energetic version of Abracadabra; providing a new wrapper for a likeable slice of pop confection. On the other hand, while The Cranberries are lapped up by most music critics, I’ve always found Dolores O’Riordan’s Irish twang a tad tart for my taste. Time Is Ticking Out which counts down the final moments of this Clockstoppers soundtrack is no exception.

“I’m just lookin’ for paradise in my living room,” goes the Smash Mouth lyric. Me too. But not before I look for the eject button on the CD player. 

Published September 26, 2002

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TITLE: Clockstoppers
ID: 335672
Hollywood Records/FMR
ARTISTS: Smash Mouth; Sugar Ray; Fenix TX; Uncle Kracker; Third Eye Blind; Blink 182; Nickelback; New Found Glory; Simple Plan; The Dandy Warhols; Lit; Scapegoat Wax; Kool Keith; Lil’ J; The Cranberries

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