Over ten years of quality hits from Gwen Stefani and the boys
Suicide, intraband relationships, tabloid mawlings, record company fallouts and
The Simpsons – [a]No Doubt[/a] have endured it all. Away from the public image of go-getters and
effortless hipsters, they’ve have had the kind of careers that’d have Eastenders script writers choking on their muesli since their start in 1987.
1991: Interscope had had enough. The band’s first self-titled album had bombed so
badly that they refused to support the band in any way. So what did [a]No Doubt[/a] do? This was, after all, a band who got through the suicide of the exuberant founder vocalist John Spence four years
earlier. They gave ’em the finger and put out their own self-financed album, ‘The Beacon Street Collection’.
Although it was too late for Gwen’s brother Eric who quit to become an animator – working for The Simpsons among others – it reignited their fan-base. And
impressed the doubting Interscopers who opened their wallets. That’s where this
collection comes in. Kicking down doors, screaming and shouting. ‘Just A Girl’ was a roaring call to arms that shimmed its hips, blew raspberries at
disbelievers and exploded across US radio – and best of all it remained unska’ed
by nauseating skanking that they frequently lapse into. It paved the way for
what remains their definitive statement – the power ballad ‘Don’t Speak’ that underlined the bands ability with the tune and ‘50s pin-up-alike Gwen Stefani’s to sound like a rock [a]Madonna[/a]. Naturally it was inescapable. And obviously it was inspired by Gwen’s break up with bassist Tony Kanal.
She poured her heart into the follow up ‘Return Of Saturn’ which was similarly inspired – this time by the on-off relationship with [a]Bush[/a]’s Gavin Rossdale that tabloids obsessed over. It was a personal vision of brutal insecurity and fragmenting relationships. Sadly, someone apparently forgot to tell the producers who thought they were producing a shiny blustery big rock anthems. ‘Simple Kind Of Life’ alone is the aural equivalent of grafting jet engines on a butterfly.
However come 2001 with ‘Hey Baby’ and ‘Hella Good’ a duo of fizzing electro pop predating Girls Aloud by a year, they were back – without baggage.
Despite being an album packed with as much drama as the band themselves have suffered, it’ll be the pop anthems you come back for and fortunately there’s enough here to keep even the soap addicts happy.