OK, I’m a day late to the party and I didn’t even buy streamers, but it’s just come to my attention that ‘Smash’, The Offspring’s classic third album was 20 years old yesterday. Not particularly exciting new in itself, plenty of things happened 20 years ago [insert one of the thousands of Cobain tributes here]. But, for me, ‘Smash’ was the definitive album that took my pre-teen self away from Top of the Pops, and on to the dirty road of loud noises.
I guess, if I have this album to thank (or blame) for my future music habits, then I should also send a nod towards what led me to hearing it – agressive inline skating. You know, the one with skates, not skateboards. People liked it back in the ‘90s. Apparently it’s not acceptable anymore, like Pogs or Cheetos.
Down I sat to watch an incredibly shaky DIY skate video filmed in Bromley, featuring my brother and whoever else. After enduring several minutes of people falling over in a car park in came Dexter Holland. It definitely wasn’t the Spice Girls (who surfaced two years later), and this was a good thing. I’d never heard punk before or anything close it it. Phil Collins was all I knew. So this was new ground for me, and I liked it.
Not only was it the first time I experienced punk, but also the first time I’d heard anyone swear in music. I didn’t even know that could be done. Michael Jackson was Bad, but he near swore. So hearing the interlude in ‘Bad Habit’, to my pre-teen mind, was probably the coolest thing to ever happen, other than The Terminator.
Immediately I demanded to know what it was I was hearing, as well as a tiny, fat, blonde child can demand. Knowing the name, but not the album, I attempted to track it down. But without Amazon and being a tiny child, there weren’t many opportunities. That was until I ended up in an amazing – now defunct – punk shop in Truro, Cornwall. I thought I had it.
No doubt, I’d acquired some Offspring, but not the one I was looking. I now possessed Ignition. While the wrong album, I fell for it just as much.
That was, until the now obliterated Woolworths came to my rescue with what I coveted. Even to this date, I probably haven’t listened to any single album as many times as I must have listened to ‘Smash’ once I owned it.
Embarrassingly, track 11 ‘What Happened to You’ also led me on the path to shred. Yes, that horrible period in life almost every guitarist has engaging with meaningless shred. The tiny, pentatonic solo mid-song blew my tiny mind, led me buy a guitar, to learn it. Then realise it wasn’t quite so amazing.
So I owe a lot to this album. Little could I know what awaited me on Top of the Pops several years later. We’ll never discuss it.
If you’ve never heard ‘Smash’, don’t be put off by pretty fly white guys. Listen.