I’m about to tell you something that may well eradicate any credibility you may possibly think I have. I watch Rastamouse. Genuinely. And I’m not the only one – housemates, you know who you are! OK, it may have been turned worryingly quickly into a pretty successful drinking game, but it honestly began as actual television viewing. Children and grown-ups alike (I’ll let you decide which of those groups you belong to) have been amused and charmed by the cute and, on the whole, morally dubious residents of Mouseland. Da Easy Crew (Rastamouse, Zoomer and Scratchy) are a reggae band, but also a mystery-solving, crime-fighting trio, assisting the hopeless President who has the aptly daft name Wensley Dale. These Rasta’s are of course the child-friendly, non-weed-smoking type. If the Caribbean accents, quirky characters and cheerily happy endings aren’t quite enough to win you over, there’s also the music, which is ever present on the programme – following an appearance at this summer’s Glastonbury, Rastamouse even has his own album…
The album is made up of twenty of the songs from the series. It’s uplifting and hilarious. The Jamaican reggae feel results in music of steel drums, brass, bright piano and guitar lines, funky rhythms and joyful vocals and, in combination with the humourous and sometimes bizarre lyrics, is very appealing. I challenge you not to smile listening to ‘Life Is Sweet’.
My favourite tracks are ‘Hot Hot Hot!’ a sunny, catchy track with great lyrics like “the rhythm is cool and the weather is hot hot hot, the sun will shine on me”. I love ‘Cookin’ and Jammin’’, a song about “shakin’” while you’re “bakin’” in the kitchen – “he makes his pies with lots of lovin’, then he bakes them in the oven”. There are also a good amount of laid-back, smoother tracks, like the mellow ‘Grove Town’ and ska influenced ‘Ice Popp’, which also features a Shaggy-esque rap. The first track, ‘Give It Up for Da Easy Crew’, is the TV theme song and track 16, ‘Help!’, is a song version of an appeal for help from the President to Da Easy Crew, an event which occurs in each episode. There are some really odd, almost trippy moments on this album, mainly due to the lack of context. ‘Bagga T Rap’ is distinctly creepy; ‘Dub Melodica’ is a random nod to electronic music; ‘Bandulu’s Pie’ is about, well, a pie.
It works best if you can picture these songs being performed by mice, so unless you have an impressive and, let’s be honest, weird imagination you may need to watch an episode or two first. I’m not for a minute suggesting you listen to this in a serious way but, in the same way comedy albums do, this might keep you entertained for a while during the long holiday; it is summer – silly season – after all. Several episodes of Rastamouse are available on BBC iPlayer and the album can be found on Spotify, so you can watch or listen without losing your hard earned cash (or your student loan). At the very least you can pick up some Rasta lingo, which sounds like a “crucial” plan to me. Irie man.
Good: Fun, upbeat and entertaining
Bad: Will hinder any attempt you make at being cool, forever