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No Doubt - The Singles 1992 - 2003

Review: Jack Foley

GREATEST hits compilations were almost made for bands such as No Doubt.

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 Speak.

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 sound throughout.

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 follow-up.

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 90s.

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, thus far.

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 face.




Track listing:
1. Just A Girl
2. It's My Life
3. Hey Baby
4. Bathwater
5. Sunday Morning
6. Hella Good
7. New
8. Underneath It All
9. Excuse Me Mr.
10. Running
11. Spiderwebs
12. Simple Kind Of Life
13. Don't Speak
14. Ex-Girlfriend
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)

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