Here at ERTAS Towers, the ’96 Dom Perignon* has been rested on ice and the chubbiest of our calves is now looking distinctly regretful about having that extra bag of oats, whilst the other, thinner, calves frolic around the field with gay abandon, keeping the weight off.
The reason for all this celebration is that some prodigal sons have returned. Not that they really ever went away, but Tim Wheeler and his band Ash have announced that they will release an album – something they swore off doing since the 2007 album Twilight_of_the_Innocents eight whole years ago.
The new lead single, “Cocoon” is a blast, harking back to those glory days of “Free All Angels” and “1977”.
It was something of a mystery that Ash decided to eschew the album format, as they made two perfect examples of the form. Indeed, you can keep the majority of those Britpop albums that came out in the late nineties – I’d be quite happy to argue the toss in favour of 2001’s “Free All Angels” being as good an album as almost any released in the previous seven year period.
The album was littered with half a dozen blazing singles, including the Ivor Novello Award winning “Shining Light” and the affecting ballad “Sometimes”, which documented the resigned feeling of two young hearts drifting apart as articulately as any song has ever managed. At a time when Alien Ant Farm, Weezer, Green Day, The Hives and a number of other guitar-punk bands were selling millions, Ash’s comparatively lower profile was baffling, especially when you consider they had the better songs.
Ash did, however, burn hot and cold, as “1977” was followed up with the album more ordinary “Nu-Clear Sounds” and “Free All Angels” with the letdown of “Meltdown”. Perhaps it felt, like a struggling football team, as though they couldn’t put back-to-back wins together.
After swearing off albums, an A-Z of singles were released, all twenty six of which kept the faithful happy every other week, but failed to win a new audience.
I saw the band a few times, including at an XFM Breakfast Show event in Hackney, where I lent Tim my pen to sign my “Envy” CD.
He kindly signed a few things for the crowd, and then ran off with the pen. It doubtless now sits on the Wheeler hall table, next to his telephone and a small pad of paper.
But class is permanent whilst form is temporary, if I can stretch that football metaphor a little too far. The single is a strong return, and I’m hoping the album, called “Kablammo!”, is Angelic and not a Meltdown.
Welcome back boys…and Tim, you owe me a pen….
Have you ever had a rock star steal your belongings? Ever seen a rock star’s hall table? Did it have a telephone and small pad of paper on it? Let me know in the comments section below….