Before Dragon Ash turned into phat beat quartet somewhere between the Beastie Boys and Beck, it was a rock band.

A very straight-forward, Seattle-by-means-of-Tokyo post-grunge band that fortunately doesn’t have an Eddie Vedder clone fronting it.

Mustang!, Dragon Ash’s 1997 debut album, only slightly hints at the hip-hop direction the group would eventually undertake.

Until then, Furuya Kenji was channelling Stone Gossard and Dave Grohl on such tracks as “One Way”, “Monkey Punch Monkey Kick” and “Rainy Day and Day.” Given his propensity to steal some song titles from Smashing Pumpkins — “Siva” on this album; “Cherub Rock” on Buzz Songs — he may have been channeling some Billy Corgan and James Iha as well.

The results are a collection of some extremely likeable hooks when the group decides to rock out — which is unfortunately scattershot between some just-as-likeable introspective moments.

Mustang!, it seems, is a textbook example of what lousy sequencing can do to an album. The songs on the album are terrific individually, but there’s just this sense that when Dragon Ash was ready to rock, the next song brought the mood way down.

Hmmm. Didn’t it seem that Dragon Ash had the same problem two years later with Viva La Revolution?

However diverse the group’s origins and subsequent output may be, they still haven’t mastered the art of honing track sequence. Ah well — a minor transgression.

Mustang! is still a good rock album.

P.S. I didn’t realize the hook on “Grateful Days” is the same on “Cowboy Fuck!” Clever.