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Blink-182 - Cheshire Cat (Cover Artwork)

Blink-182

Blink-182: Cheshire CatCheshire Cat (1994)
Cargo Records

Reviewer Rating: 4.5
User Rating:


Contributed by: greg0rbgreg0rb
(others by this writer | submit your own)

Out of all of those initial punk bands I got into in late middle school/ early high school around 1995, the guys in Blink—182 seemed the most like me. Sure, they were a bit older (Hoppus was 22 when Cheshirecame out, DeLonge 19, and Raynor close at 16), but they seemed, well, nice. Blink were .
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Out of all of those initial punk bands I got into in late middle school/ early high school around 1995, the guys in Blink—182 seemed the most like me. Sure, they were a bit older (Hoppus was 22 when Cheshirecame out, DeLonge 19, and Raynor close at 16), but they seemed, well, nice. Blink were normal, suburban kids from outside San Diego. They seemed well—adjusted enough. No hard drugs here or violent tendencies, just break ups, make ups, and goofin' around. Cheshire Cat introduced me and the rest of the punk world to Blink, and while they would not blow up in the mainstream until their follow up on MCA Records, Dude Ranch, they had set the blueprint for their style of poppy, goofy skate punk that they would later bring to the masses.

After recording and self—releasing a demo album titled Buddah (later rereleased by Kung Fu), small San Diego label Cargo Records took notice and sent the band to record their first proper album. Cheshire Cat was recorded quickly, but increases the production value of that found on Buddah while still allowing for the guys to goof off quite a bit.

Many songs off Buddah were rerecorded, and they had good reason to; opener "Carousel" was one of them. Starting with a multi—part intro that features a great bass part by Hoppus, the vocals don't come in until almost a minute—and—a—half. It sets the tone for the serious songs on the record: DeLonge pining for a girl. "I guess it's just another / I guess it's just another / I guess it's just another night alone". "M+M's" was the hit and the video cemented early on their style on that end; no matter how serious the song's content was, the video would be silly. In this case, it depicted the guys stealing from their sleeping girlfriends who later take them down in a blaze of glory while the guys are loading in for a gig. This original version was later deemed too violent or something and those portions were replaced with additional footage of the trio galavanting in the theme park.

"Strings" is another strong track, lead by Hoppus and great drumming by Raynor, who take the chorus to a tom—filled breakdown. "Wasting Time" is one of my favorites, a mid—tempo longing song with Hoppus at the helm again. It's got one of that catchiest choruses and just a pinch of that silliness ("She'd teach me about modern art / And I'd show her it's ok to fart"). "Cacophony" show the band's emo side, with its gentle verses and building choruses, though the tempo does take off near the back half. "Toast and Bananas" is their take on the classic "Let It Be" progression, starting in ballad mode but of course taking off. It's one of DeLonge's strongest tracks of the set.

Cheshire also introduced us to Blink's lovably immature sense of humor. "Does My Breath Smell" starts with a soulful intro by DeLonge with a twist at the end: Why do they / Why do they / Always kick me in the groin when I come near?" They throw in jokey wordplay into nearly every song, as simple as "Your words are kind / ...The kind that repeatedly say no" in "Romeo and Rebecca." The end of the album is full of shenanigans, from the incestous tale of "Ben Wah Balls" to adult bladder control problems in "Depends" to Airplane quotes and "throwing the dick down the stairs".

Blink—182 would reach their peak with 1997's Dude Ranch, helped by a major label recording budget and a more focused set of songs. But Cheshire Cat will always hold that special place for me as one of the first small—label bands I discovered, as well as the first band I shunned when all the jocks started liking them around Enema of the State. Good times.

 

 
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Fine Print: The following comments are owned by whoever posted them. We are not respon sible for them in any way. Seriously.
paulrulzdood (August 18, 2014)

I got into Blink in the Fall of '97, after seeing them on Warped Tour a few months earlier and a friend being cool enough to lend me the Dude Ranch CD for me to rip to a blank casette. About a year later, "Dammit" would hit and the band would be huge. I didn't get around to picking up Cheshire until 2000; well after I had Enema no less. The disparency between both songwriting chops and especially production values between Cheshire and the Enema/Dude albums I'd played into the ground was too big for me to ever really get into this. For this Blink album to be "good", it needs to be the 90's (so the production values are passable) and your first exposure to them (so you aren't aware how much better they got after this album).

But, regardless, I always loved "carousel", "m&m's", "wasting time" and I guess it all depends. Otherwise, pretty much garbage, and really taken down by the local-band-recording production values.

Kind of the way I feel about the Bouncing Souls s/t, I think is a fitting analogy. What Cheshire is to Blink, the S/T is to the Souls. Just too goofy, too many garbage songs/filler..fun and immature, but lacking any substance aside from a few standouts (kate is great, say anything)...it's only a good album if it's the album you got into the Souls on and you were the right age for it and it's the 90's...but after you hear "hopeless romantic" or especially "summer vacation", and then retroactively try to get into the "s/t" like I did...it's like...man...this band sure got a shitload better over the last few years. I feel that way about Blink. they got worlds better in the few years after Cheshire.

good review as usual though, can't really put the album in any better perspective

IllaZilla (August 18, 2014)

I always credit this as the album that got me into punk rock. I listened to a mix of things when I was young: Weird Al, movie soundtracks, and some popular early-90s rap like Vanilla Ice and the Fresh Prince. By high school it was just mainstream pop radio (this was late '94/early '95). During lunch the ASB kids would set up a PA in the quad and play albums. One day "M Ms" came on and I distinctly remember thinking it was the fastest guitar sound I'd ever heard. I found out who the band was, bought the album, and played it in my discman every day while walking from school to swim practice. I soon found out that Blink-182 were locals who occasionally pulled up at my high school to hand out flyers for their gigs (I went to USDHS, aka Uni, which was just up the street from Soma, the only all-ages venue in town at the time. It's the venue they're loading into in the "M Ms" video"). Cheshire Cat was my gateway into punk (as The Fury of the Aquabats was to ska, and Weezer's blue album to alternative). Through Blink-182 I got interested in other similarly-sounding bands as well as a lot of local acts: Unwritten Law, Buck-O-Nine, etc. Then I worked my way backward through their influences: Bad Religion, NOFX, Descendents, and so on. So I have to give Blink credit for my "punk awakening" as well as my interest in the local music scene. I remained a fan for years, getting to be at a tiny local gig that was filmed for an MTV special called "The Road Home" and being in the crowd for the live portion of the "Man Overboard" video which was filmed at the Belly Up.

tahoejeff (August 17, 2014)

I remember when I first heard this record, that I thought that they sounded like a shitty NOFX ripoff. I like Dude Ranch just fine, but I could never get into this record.

MN_DrNick (August 16, 2014)

Of the albums reviewed, this one should've gotten the lowest. Not Godd, Bad, and the Argyle (which honestly is a 4/5).

davebrave4 (August 16, 2014)

Also also, to the people bitching about the score, take a look at the albums on the sidebar that were reviewed this week. Most of them got five stars, a few got 4.5, and only one album got under a 4.5 (The Good, The Bad and the Argyle at 3.5). Not to mention, IMO, this album really is a 9/10.

davebrave4 (August 16, 2014)

Oh, and you guys are all gonna laugh at me, but "Strings" gives me goosebumps. Why can't Mark still sing like that?

davebrave4 (August 16, 2014)

Great review, Greg. I still love this album, although I didn't hear it until years later (I was six in 1994).

eradimus (August 16, 2014)

Whatever they've become, those early Blink days were a lot of fun. Fun album. Fun band. I still listen to this and Dude Ranch once in a while.

luca (August 16, 2014)

I couldn`t agree less. Of all those melodic bands form the 90s blink were always the ones I could relate to less, I didn`t like them back in 95 when I was 14 and I don`t like them now. You say you related to them cause they were normal and nice but as a young teenager I got into punk because I liked the music and I was angry, I didn`t like the people around me and the society that created them, blink seemed to take all the teenage angst and existential crisis I loved from punk and turn it into a joke. That was my impression anyway, however I have to say that I`m not from the suburbs or from california, so maybe there is some common experience there I just don`t get.

badseed (August 16, 2014)

4.5 out of 5? Not in a million years.

kickaha (August 16, 2014)

I was at the Cheshire Cat "CD Release Show". It was at the Music Trader in El Cajon (a new & used record chain that had a bunch of locations in San Diego). Blink played a set in the back of the store. Funny thing though, I decided not to get Cheshire Cat that day & instead bought Good Riddance 'For God & Country'. I think I made the right choice.

BikeMordy (August 16, 2014)

I had this CD when it was brand new and they were just called "Blink". I put it on Ebay a few years ago as a "collectible". Sold it for like $50-60. I knew I was going to do okay when multiple people with "182" in their name started a bidding war over it. SUCKERS! But really...it's hard to imagine, but these guys were just considered like a lousy Vandals-type band back in the day. Nobody could have predicted they'd get that big in 94 (it came out in 94, not 95.)

heretic (August 15, 2014)

God damn it, man, you could've found some common ground with the jocks.

uscbdaddy (August 15, 2014)

I really enjoyed this when I was in high school, but it's hard to listen to now. I like the song Sometimes alot still, though.

MN_DrNick (August 15, 2014)

4.5/5??? I don't think so, Greg...

blinkrules (August 15, 2014)

technically not they're first album. other than that, good review

nedsammy (August 15, 2014)

A surprisingly persuasive review for a band I find it actively difficult to listen to (when Jedward covered 'All the Small Things' my reaction was 'well, I guess it makes sense'). I will - however reservedly - check this out and give them a fair shake.

faithisforfools (August 15, 2014)

Pfftttt.
This album is total fucking garbage.

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