Supergrass were fond of proclaiming that they were everybody’s third-favourite Britpop band. By the same token, Ash probably rank fifth in most people’s affections.

AshIt would certainly be impossible to dislike the Downpatrick punk-pop trio who became a 1990s festival-bill staple. It’s also easy to forget they were so precociously young that they were still teenagers when they blazed to No.1 with their 1996 debut LP, 1977, named after the year that Star Wars was released.

Indeed, space travel and sci-fi were their early passion, as evidenced by this boxset of 10 7” singles and their B-sides. Their 1-2-3-4! adrenalin rush of a debut was Jack Names The Planets: the gawky buzzsaw rush of Girl From Mars remains arguably their most thrilling moment.

They were in thrall to Buzzcocks and their countrymen The Undertones, and like those bands, Ash buried gleaming pop hooks among the riffage of songs like Goldfinger. 1997’s A Life Less Ordinary burst out of its skin after second guitarist Charlotte Hatherley arrived with yet more elbow grease and cooed backing vocals.

Teenage kicks, so hard to beat. A cool package from a cool band.


Ian Gittins