Ash - Intergalactic Sonic 7"s

While Ash have continually rallied against the disposable pop of Westlife and co there's an irony that after the 3rd album and Greatest Hits collection they will split in the fine pop tradition. The very fact that drummer Rick Murray went against doctors orders just to play the Reading / Leeds Festival's could either be seen as simply not wanting to let down the fans or in truth it could be down to the fact that they simply won't be around in 12 months time following the announcement that Tim Wheeler has decided to go off and do his serious Jeff Buckley influenced acoustic album, while the rest of the band return to the toilet circuit for their respective solo projects. It's probably just the cynic in me, but when I have these feeling I'm usually right and I don't see Ash around on the nostalgia circuit ala Shed 7 or the Bluetones.

In that respect "Intergalactic Sonic 7"s" takes us through the band career from those days when we huddled around a cheap stereo to listen to Steve Lamacq's Evening Session (Ed: Sadly another relic from the past by the end of the year) and hear gems such as "Jack Names The Planets" and "Kung Fu" and then onto their recent and best single to date "Envy" with it's White Stripes baiting video. Even more remarkable was the fact they were allowed to choice their musical destiny when they shunned the 3 minute pop formula in favour of Jesus and The Mary Chain wall of sound for their second album "Nu-Clear Sounds" which is represented by "Jesus Says". When they came back with "Shining Light" and went onto renewed success with the number one album "Free All Angels" it was a sign that here was a band prepared to give an up middle finger to the cynics who'd written them off as just another failed brit pop band. In fact they were a band steeped in the tradition of classically written pop music, but never ever sounded dated like many of their contemporary's. Just listening back to the likes of "Oh Yeah", which could quite easily be a lost Osmonds song, or "Sometimes" that you can imagine in 20 years being covered by the Atomic Kitten's of the day.

Whether Ash decide to go their separate ways after this release and Tim Wheeler's solo career or they retreat into the wilderness and relish in the fact that a million copies of a greatest hits album will again allow them to ditch the 3 minute pop formula in favour of more musically challenging opus is anyone's guess, but regardless this collection displays some of the best songs of our generation.

Alex McCann

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