Ash - Free All Angels (BMG, Vinyl re-issue)

Ash – Free All Angels (BMG, Vinyl re-issue)

Back in 2001, less than a year after setting up the now defunct ‘music and beyond’ website Atomicduster with my fellow GIITTV contributor Nick James, I was sent a promotional CD of this album. I liked Ash. I thought Trailer was good, I thought 1977 was a fine debut, and I thought Nu-Clear Sounds, despite its mixed reviews from critics, was great.

Free All Angels just blew me away though. In my fresh faced excitement and naivety, I practically orgasmed over it during the course of my review and deemed it a perfect ten.

21 years later, with the benefit of hindsight and a far greater grounding in musical history, I realise that there are very few albums worthy of such an accolade. Free All Angels, I will admit now, is not a ten out of ten record. What it does remain, however, is a bloody great album. Revisiting it now after all this time is like meeting up with an old friend, one that you really clicked with at the time and, though you haven’t seen them in what seems like aeons, feel you can just pick up where you left off with them. The spark is still there.

The singles, of course, are bona fide classics – ‘Candy‘ cleverly using the melody from The Walker Brothers‘ ‘Make It Easy On Yourself‘ on strings and somehow turning it into something new that is just as beguiling as that sixties classic; ‘Shining Light‘ with its anthemic, singalong qualities and perhaps best of all, the irresistible power pop/rock of the scintillating ‘Burn Baby Burn‘.

It’s astonishing to think, then, that the rest of the album matches – and often surpasses – such dyed in the wool classics. But it does. Both of its other singles, ‘Sometimes‘ and ‘There’s A Star‘ both have a certain kind of magic about them but it’s often the album tracks that elevate Free All Angels to ‘out and out classic’ status. The ultra-sleazy ‘Submission‘, the eager urgency of opener ‘Walking Barefoot‘ and the almost Ramones-like chorus of “I killed my baby but I loved her” on ‘Nicole‘.

Or the ridiculously catchy ‘Cherry Bomb‘ (surely this would have been a guaranteed single by any other band’s reckoning?), the fabulously noisy ‘Shark‘ and the delightfully brooding verses of its predecessor ‘Pacific Palisades‘ before it explodes into its joyous refrain.

By the time you get to the frantic finale of ‘World Domination‘, you feel like you’ve been for an intense workout, after which you feel refreshed and on top of the world.

Ah, you know what? Fuck it. It probably is still a ten after all.

The vinyl reissue of Free All Angels is out on 16th September through BMG.

God is in the TV is an online music and culture fanzine founded in Cardiff by the editor Bill Cummings in 2003. GIITTV Bill has developed the site with the aid of a team of sub-editors and writers from across Britain, covering a wide range of music from unsigned and independent artists to major releases.