Ash, 1977, 1996, Infectious Records
Girl from Mars
I'd Give You Anything
Gone the Dream
Let It Flow
Lost in You
Northern Irish rockers Tim Wheeler (vocals and guitar), Mark Hamilton (bass) and Rick McMurray (drums) got together in 1992 when they were still at school, but this was their first full album. Influenced by older punk bands as well as Nirvana and The Pixies, they named the album 1977 because it was the year both Tim Wheeler and Mark Hamilton were born, the “birth” of punk and the release of the first Star Wars film.
Loose Control is a great thrashing guitar track to start the album off. Grungy Goldfinger continues the great guitar work with a nice melody and some pretty unusual chord changes. Girl From Mars, one of their most successful singles is the punkyest version of a gentle love song you will ever hear. It’s incredibly catchy with great hooks (apparently NASA used to use it as their phone hold music). I'd Give You Anything is a chance for the drums to shine. So far this is the most punk influenced track. Gone the Dream slows things down and is a complete change of pace, showing Wheeler’s range as a vocalist. Normal service resumes with the punchy (excuse the sort-of-pun) drum-tastic Kung Fu. Single Oh Yeah is a more conventional love song and it’s a weak point. Innocent Smile is the highlight of the album for me, a perfectly pitched rocker with the most interesting lyrics on the album and an awesome guitar outro. Angel Interceptor has a brilliant intro but the vocals get a bit lost and it doesn’t seem able to sustain itself. Darkside Lightside closes the album in fast and furious style.
It’s an album for a young audience, all unrequited love and endless summers, but it doesn’t feel dated. The lyrics veer towards the sentimental, but there is nothing particularly deep here. There are a few forgettable tracks and the vocal is sometimes strained but overall it’s a fun, light pop-punk album. Ash got a bit lost in the Britpop wave that was happening on the mainland and it’s a shame because 1977 still stands up as a solid album and considering it was made by such a young group, it’s a really impressive debut.