Ash
1977


4.5
superb

Review

by Ali CONTRIBUTOR (130 Reviews)
October 27th, 2011 | 18 replies | 4,254 views


Release Date: 1996 | Tracklist

Review Summary: A glorious, and sadly forgotten debut.

I've always thought of the term "great singles band" as a bit of a backhanded compliment. Yes, it acknowledges the fact that the group in question are capable of producing excellent music, but it's also a phrase with plenty of negative connotations, namely that none of their actual albums are worth their salt. Northern Irelanders Ash are often called a great singles band (and indeed they were), but landing that label has sadly caused many to overlook just how good their LP's were. Indeed it's telling that their popularity has fallen so significantly since they abandoned the format in 2008, and equally ironic that their standards have taken a nosedive since they began devoting their time exclusively to the 7". Sadly, instead of highlighting how good they once were, this fall from grace has caused many to forget how good Ash once were, and at no time did that beacon burn brighter than on their debut LP 1977 - named and inspired by the year in which Star Wars was released.

Although they had released a mini-album, Trailer, the previous year, this is an album which still bears the hallmarks of a band embarking on it's first steps. The entire record has a definite air of naïvety about it, with some of Tim Wheeler's songs coming across as somewhat primitive, and his vocal performance in particular sounding like that of an amateurish teenager. But in fairness, that's exactly what he and his bandmates were at this point, and it's that immaturity and youthful exuberance which fuels this record and makes it such a joy to listen to. Lyrically, it sticks to the tried and tested waters of love, loss and longing which you'd perhaps expect from such a young band, but there's just something about this record - something impossible to describe - which makes even it's most obvious flaws easy to bypass. Take a song like 'Gone The Dream,' for example. On the surface it's little more than a piece of reflective filler, yet it still possesses the heart and poignancy to render it more than a pleasant sidetrack.

Make no mistake, though, the singles are where this album peaks. Forget all the negative implications - Ash were a great singles band, and nowhere does that motion ring truer than on 1977. Five were released in all, each one absoloutly brilliant and proof that Wheeler was an outrageously gifted songwriter. Peaking at number three on the UK chart, 'Girl From Mars' was the most successful, and it's not hard to see why. Aside from having a sensational arsenal of hooks, it's also a song which hits hard, with a basic pop-punk template beefed up by a barrage of grungy guitars which give it an added edge. The story's a similar one for the Jackie Chan themed 'Kung Fu,' while late album highlight 'Angel Interceptor' provides an absolute masterclass in catchy songwriting, with a chorus which still hits the right spots fifteen years on. 'Goldfinger' and 'Oh Yeah' on the other hand are more reflective cuts, but no less joyous, and exemplify the notion of teenage innocence which the album as a whole encompasses so brilliantly.

On the opposite end of the spectrum, there are also songs like 'Lose Control' and 'Darkside Lightside' which show the trio's heavier side, being filled to the brim with ballsy riffs and displaying that they were more than capable of rocking out once in a while. It's a style that would become more prevalent on follow-up Nu-Clear Sounds, and then again on 2004's more streamlined Meltdown, but neither of those outings could match the sheer urgency of the tracks here, and as such come across as suitably inferior. In fact, that's something that's true of the rest of Ash's career in every sense. They certainly had their moments post-1977, and continued in producing a string of fine singles, but they never quite managed to recapture the magic that's encased here. Newcomers would perhaps be better off investing in fantastic singles collection Intergalactic Sonic 7"s for a summary of their peak years, but as far as the LP format goes, Ash - try as they did - never quite managed to replicate the glory of this debut outing.



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user ratings (51)
Chart.
3.7
great

Comments:Add a Comment 
AliW1993
Contributing Reviewer
October 27th 2011



7314 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Originally written for http://www.muzikdizcovery.com/

Very underrated band, worth a listen.

BigHands
October 27th 2011



338 Comments


I have this, goes pretty hard.

AliW1993
Contributing Reviewer
October 27th 2011



7314 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Yaay someone else on sputnik has this :D

BigHands
October 27th 2011



338 Comments


got it in the late 90s based on a review Chuck Klosterman did when he was still writing for hte Fargo Forum. m/

AliW1993
Contributing Reviewer
October 27th 2011



7314 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Nice! Ash were actually one of the first 'proper' bands that I got into. Meltdown was always blasting at my dad's house so it was kind of unavoidable.

Deviant.
Staff Reviewer
October 27th 2011



30892 Comments


Never heard this, but everything I've ever heard by these guys (just singles etc) was pretty average

Digging: FaltyDL - In The Wild

AliW1993
Contributing Reviewer
October 27th 2011



7314 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Whaaaaaaaaaaaat pretty much every single they released up until 2007 was amazing

Deviant.
Staff Reviewer
October 27th 2011



30892 Comments


Eh, just not my thing I guess

AliW1993
Contributing Reviewer
October 27th 2011



7314 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5



Deviant.
Staff Reviewer
October 27th 2011



30892 Comments


Image cannot be displayed

AliW1993
Contributing Reviewer
October 27th 2011



7314 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Well that was a complete failure haha

KILL5
October 27th 2011



429 Comments


band is average as fuck

AliW1993
Contributing Reviewer
October 27th 2011



7314 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

If you're referring to the past few years of their existance, then I couldn't agree more.

But this? nooooo

Xenophanes
Emeritus
October 27th 2011



10585 Comments


Lovely review Ali. May have to give this a listen if it ranks so high in your books

Digging: United Nations - The Next Four Years

AliW1993
Contributing Reviewer
October 28th 2011



7314 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Thanks Eli. Definitely give the five singles a go, if you don't like them then there's no hope.

uninvited
November 1st 2011



248 Comments


pos's

jamepic699
November 9th 2011



10 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

whaaa? dude this is better than anything The Beatles ever wrote.

Arcade
Contributing Reviewer
April 25th 2014



1889 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Ahhh my dad use to jam this is a kid and it brings the nostalgia

Digging: Botch - We Are the Romans



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