Review: Jack Foley
GREATEST hits compilations were almost made for bands such as
Far bigger in the US than they are in the UK, the band have,
nevertheless, delivered a few memorable tracks down the years,
in the shape of Just A Girl, Hey Baby and the ballad, Don't
This singles collection, however, provides a welcome reminder
of other, almost forgotten releases, as well as the odd track
which provides a more rounded depiction of what they are about.
Originally formed in 1986, the band has endured death, departure
and internal and external relationship difficulties throughout
its 17-year history, while never failing to retain its happy-go-lucky
They didn't get a record deal until 1991 and although their eponymous
debut remained largely overlooked, they persevered and eventually
delivered their breakthrough long-player, Tragic Kingdom,
which spawned the timeless single, Don't Speak.
The break-up ballad is viewed by many as one of the most poignant
and popular ballads of all-time, even though it didn't really
fit in with the otherwise sprightly pop/punk/reggae-80s retro
musical style of the rest of the album.
Yet it helped it to achieve phenomenal success, and heaped more
pressure on the band, who couldn't quite manage to deliver a worthy
Hence, Return of Saturn failed to deliver a really massive
single for them, and the band drifted into obscurity on this side
of the Atlantic.
They struggled to break away from the childish likes of Spiderwebs,
with tracks such as Ex-Girlfriend, and, as a result, began
to sound dated.
But just when you thought they were forgotten, No Doubt returned
with 2001's Rock Steady, during which they really seemed
to find their feet.
By collaborating with musical luminaries such as Ric Ocasek,
Prince, Nellee Hooper, Sly & Robbie and William Orbit, they
produced a more rounded pop-rock sound, which also took in elements
of trip-hop, new wave and R&B, while discarding the 80s-based
ska sound which seemed to be holding them back.
As a result, many of the finer moments on the greatest hits selection
come from that album, with Hey Baby standing head and shoulders
above many of the tracks, as a near-perfect example of the guitar-driven
pop-rock sound that the likes of Garbage perfected in the early
Strong, too, is the electro-funk of Hella Good, and the
sweet electronica of Running, which finds Gwen Stefani's
distinctive vocals at their most poignant and heartfelt.
The singles are brought up to date with the band's hit and miss
version of Talk Talk's It's My Life, which manages to sound
more 80s-based than Talk Talk's edgy original, but which effortlessly
encapsulates the highs and lows of No Doubt's musical journey,
No Doubt may not be the type of band which compels you to rush
out and buy their albums, but this collection of singles provides
an intriguing insight into one of music's enduring outfits and
is well worth a listen for anyone needing a smile put on their
1. Just A Girl
2. It's My Life
3. Hey Baby
5. Sunday Morning
6. Hella Good
8. Underneath It All
9. Excuse Me Mr.
12. Simple Kind Of Life
13. Don't Speak
15. Trapped In A Box
16. Hey Baby (UK Bonus Track - (Philip Steir Remix) - aka Girls
Get The Bass In The Back)
17. Underneath It All (UK Bonus Track - Acoustic Live)