Last Monday, well technically Tuesday, dmh popped round to mine for tea and biscuits on route to his sister’s in Down via the Liverpool ferry.
Think it was about 1:30am when the teenage screams from outside alerted me to our star’s arrival, moving his van twice under demands from insomniac neighbours he and designated driver Val fought their way through the Anfield autograph hunters to take their places for the start of the guided tour …kicking back with beer lifted from Ricoh Arena the previous Friday…. We viewed some of the finest architecture the early 1900s has to offer and upon our return from the East wing settled down in the front room to talk of the important issues of the day.
Now Batman Begins and the Dark Knight are great flims and dark, could they? will they? Bring back the speedo wearing campo side kick Robin? And can dmh hear the name Robin without laughing?? But you don’t want to hear about this, you wanna hear about all the new and old unreleased Ash I heard don’t you…. Well sit back and hmm relax
The route to the new Ash sort of started with discussion of what they’re gonna do with all these new songs… no more albums, so what does this mean? This means big plans for 2009, more ash than ever before, all to download and some physical releases. Some downloads will be pushed as singles, some won’t. some you will like, some you will love, some you will kill you granny in the pit to….
Rolling back to a few days earlier and the launch of this grand website down in Coventry, Mark gave us a first listen to the masterpiece that is Return of White Rabbit and I was blown away. This song is SO hard to describe because it is SO different to anything Ash have done before. Couple of months back after his trip to NYC Chad described the feel of the new songs as more experimental and having the feel of Trailer/1977 b-sides. He’s not wrong. The production is different to Twilight of the Innocents, it’s more “spacey” with lots of different sounds and effects going on all over Place.
Back to our Rabbit…. The obvious song that springs to mind when trying to describe this is Shockwave but this song is much more and so much more catchy, and I suppose Astral Conversations, but again it’s so much better. I’ve been thinking how to describe the direction…. Down in Cov Mark and Rick soundchecked You Can’t Have It All without the guitars and before then I’d never noticed how catching and strong the rhythm section of this song is…… so we got on the phone to Belfast City airport and did everything we could to get Tim’s flights cancelled but alas… so imagine this being taken further, stronger hooks and a dancing monkey is taking you hands and leading you to the floor…. Point those fingers Yeah!
Ok so the Rabbit, or lets use the technical term ROWR is great, Space Shot is better. it’s not finished, as Tim said in yesterday’s blog, but he has the hooks, hook after hook. Following the same directions as ROWR and there’s two lines that you just won’t be able to get out of your head before your first listen is over. Sweet. I could tell you what those two lines are, but I’m not gonna… this could well be the come back single. You may think that his is a short description of what is the strongest song of Ash’s new batch, but it is so hard to describe… this is Ash pushing the boundaries!
Nouvelle Aventures is another going down this route and sees both Mark and Tim on bass, but it wasn’t want I’d imagined when Chad told us that... definitely had the space vibe going and now has lyrics.
This is all why Ash aren’t doing albums anymore, there’s so many new songs and so many different ideas, that maybe they wouldn’t all fit together.
Now this is where the songs titles get a little stretchy, there not my strong point. But we’ve two McMurray numbers up next, straight up good ash punk songs… really good, but no vocals yet. What’s that you say wouldn’t it be nice if Rick recorded them himself? Well maybe he will…
No Face is another Ash punk song, but it wasn’t my fav and I don’t think they’ll be another like it… but don’t worry live favourite Ichiban brings us right back on course for firm handshakes and pats on backs with a recording that doesn’t disappoint. #1.
Out of the new material there’s nothing really that sounds like Polaris or End of the World … no high fives, there good songs, eotw is great but there not singles, well maybe eotw is but but not after Polaris blah, blah…. Tracers (Without You) (is that right?) maybe the closest but it’s not really… it’s a simple song, but with so much going on in the background… newer production direction…. Really got more into this on the second listen. This is one which includes the police siren outside Tim’s window.
Prypiat. I’ve been waiting to hear this song for a long time, Mark told us about last March. I loved it, it opened with verses that don’t really give you too much of an idea of where the songs going, then when I wasn’t expecting it the chorus! For me it was a great song, but it’s again maybe not got the Ash single chorus Space Shot does.
The Covers of Coming Around Again and the Beach Boy’s Do You Wanna Dance were class. Coming Around Again is now so strong and different from the ’95 version, while Do You Wanna Dance is down in the Ramones style. Both likely to be b-sides.
As well as all this there were several other class sounding ash tracks, some ash by numbers and some the second you hear from will know Tim’s written them. For me they can’t go wrong with these songs, and they haven’t but their still pushing themselves. There is definitley something for everyone in the new stuff, Ash are challenging themselves experimenting with new sounds, but at the same time keeping the hooks and choruses and there’s still some of their unmistakeable sounding ash songs to come!
So… Ever wondered what those unreleased unheard ash demos sound like, those tracks that never made 1977, Nu-Clear Sounds, Free All Angels, Meltdown and Twilight of the Innocents? Or were on Love & Destruction?
1977. the album wasn’t demoed hence there’s no demos on the deluxe re-issue…. But there was one track, other than the mighty Scream left over. But in a complete opposite to the Scream it’s without any vocals… not that this stopped ash playing it live and on air back in the day, with Tim making up the words as they went along (so there’s a bootleg of it somewhere…) … I’m not gonna tell you name, as this track may get finished one day (there isn’t time to complete properly before the re-issue) but it’s for lovers of T. Rex, Sneaker and it kinda reminded me of Kenickie.
The main Nu-Clear Sounds outtake is Stoned Party so titled as it sounds like the Stones. The recording quality is high and the chorus is good, but it would never have fitted on Nu-Clear Sounds neither would the camp original version of Cherry Bomb.
From here onwards there’s a wealth of unreleased material…
Goy’s Scars never made the cut… and there’s demos of Shining Light, Sometimes, Candy and more from Tim’s folks place in Downpatrick. This is Slow Suicide played like it was at Lost Weekend 2000 (non-stop chorus) the early version of Envy (also played that weekend) and Out of the Blue, but not into the slipstream – the lyrics are different and the chorus is without the ‘into the slipstream’ for all bar the final time. There were also some of Charlotte’s songs, some that made her Grey Will Fade album and some that didn’t.
The Love and Destruction soundtrack was made of pieces Tim created whilst mucking around on his laptop and one contents a section that maybe revisited and probably fit in well with the new direction and production.
Loads of Meltdown outtakes… think I heard Wipe Out, Blue Blue, Send that Girl Back Home, Go to Hell and Argument. Wipe Out (think Out of the Blue / On a Wave) was the stand out track for me, quite a classic Ash sound going on. They’ll revisit this if I have my way. Send that Girl Back Home had a strong chorus, but didn’t have the Meltdown sound, Argument (poppy), Go to Hell (punky) were good but could see how they didn’t make the grade. Blue Blue don’t think this’ll ever see the light of down….
I wouldn’t say the leftovers from Twilight of the Innocents are outtakes as such, because some simply weren’t finished in time for the album. Prypiat wasn’t and you won’t be calling that an outtake!! Hospital and Lay Down Your Arms were demoed for TOTI and are now close or completed. Hospital is quite dark and telling a weird tell through someone else’s eyes but Lay Down Your Arms was more of a straight forward Ash song. Hospital I think is a song that you could become engrossed in listening to the lyrics… Lay Down Your Arms you’ll like from the off!
So after hearing all these, once, twice or several more in some cases the sun had appeared, the world was heading to work and I had opened and re-closed the curtains... somewhere along the lines we both passed out about 7:30am I think, waking an hour later (I awoke with dmh's Mac on my lap with Ichiban (I think) blasting out...)... dmh readied himself for eight hours playing the ferry fruit machines and was off.