Solitude Sounds: Ash – 1977 – Album Review
by Killian Laher
An album that isn’t always mentioned in lists of great Irish debut albums is Ash’s 1977, released in 1996. It bloody well should be. As well as some great singles, it’s full of some fine pop-punk. Lose Control bursts out off the speakers with riffs played at breakneck speed. The stuttering rhythm of Goldfinger makes it an odd but really effective song, while Girl from Mars is a good old-fashioned stormer to jump around madly to. Catchy as f**k, it was one of the great 90’s indie disco songs.
The mighty doubt-slaying riffs of I’d Give You Anything still to this day will have you punching the air with delight, while Gone the Dream and Let It Flow do laid back, growly guitar pop perfectly.
Kung Fu is a great nordie punk song in a long line of them (Teenage Kicks, Alternative Ulster etc), complete with martial arts sound effects at the start. It’s perfect for pogoing along to for the two minutes or so it lasts. It’s followed by the massive summer anthem Oh Yeah, which was a huge song at the time. Just try and stop yourself singing along to it!
Later the punk/metal workout of Innocent Smile gives way to Angel Interceptor, another fast one where singer Tim Wheeler sneers through the lyrics, though the song is possibly the poppiest on the album.
Penultimate track Lost In You is all youthful longing and yearning over some terrific guitar playing and a wistful, heartening melody, as Wheeler sings “I feel like I’m on fire, nothing I can do… I’m just dying to speak to you… you were always on my mind” in a way that you just know he MEANS it.
The album ends with the sprinting rocker Darkside Lightside, and if you leave it on long enough you get that great nineties mainstay – the hidden track. Killed off by mp3s and streaming, in the nineties every self-respecting band stuck one at the end of their albums, usually about ten minutes or so after the final track proper had faded away. In truth, you could live without most of these. Here we get Sick Party, consisting of the band literally puking their respective rings and laughing hysterically. You won’t be listening to it every day!
As albums go it has a lot to recommend it, punky riffs, catchy, well-written songs and great playing. An essential album for any collection.