Sometimes you hear a song, a certain band, or maybe even a whole album that just takes you back. Whatever it is, it comes on the radio and you are simply transported to a different time. Today’s $5 album has so many songs you heard on the radio and would get stuck in your head—one you were proud to sing out loud (well, maybe just in the car with no one else in it).
No Doubt is a ska, punk, alt-rock band that formed in California in the mid-80s. The California music scene at that point was very crowded, and it could be difficult for a band to truly get noticed. After about four years of smaller, local performances, Interscope Records was impressed by No Doubt’s rabid following and the energetic shows the band put on. Between the stage diving excitement and the overall look Gwen Stefani brought to the act, they felt it was a sure thing. Things took a quick turn however, as the grunge movement took over, No Doubt’s sound was considered way too upbeat and too poppy for the times. The label released a debut album, but it only sold 30,000 copies. The band tried a tour, but the label never got behind it and it was a huge failure.
After an outtake style record that actually did better, we enter 1995 and the process of writing Tragic Kingdom. Much of the album focused on Gwen Stefani and bandmate Tony Kanal’s relationship and subsequent breakup. What started as a single ‘Just A Girl’, turned into a record of 14 tracks where half of them were released as commercial singles. It also is certified diamond by the RIAA and has sold over 16 million copies worldwide. Two Grammy nominations later, the band embarked on a two and a half year tour to promote the album, and there were even a couple films made about the tour and a couple of the performances.
With Gwen writing most of the tracks for the first time, the band was praised for having a more personal feel on this album and a sound that was relatively unique at the time compared to the mainstream. Because of the female perspective, many of the songs were considered to pioneer the female viewpoint in rock music. The three largest singles of the album (Just A Girl, Spiderwebs, and Don’t Speak) dealt with Stefani’s exasperation toward female stereotypes—a girl avoiding a clingy man and the breakup with someone she thought was her soul mate. That simply was not what you were hearing on mainstream radio at that time.
For me, the connection to being a young, impressionable listener makes me still love this album today. But being objective, it’s still really good. It’s toe-tapping, upbeat music that incorporates the use of brass instruments, which is always a fun thing to pair with a rock band. Stefani can certainly belt out a tune, and the album is very well put together. Even if this album isn’t normally your style, it’s very pleasing to listen to. Nothing on it would be objectionable. And not to mention, many of the tracks are so catchy, you can’t help but to sing along.
For many of us, it’s been a cold couple weeks and easy to get the winter blues. Go ahead and throw this on today, it’s virtually guaranteed to break you out of your funk. And for only a fiver—what are you waiting for?
Top 3 Tracks: