If Britpop was an enormous continent filled with union jacks, corduroy trousers, red Lambrettas and Chris Evans getting a blowback (BACK I said BACK) from Tony Blair whilst Phil Daniels eats a saveloy and does that silly cockney dance, then Ash were an island off the coast of that continent filled with grunge-lovin' doe-eyed boys and girls mooning over each other to a soundtrack of three-chord punk rock radio hits. With added Star Wars.
There was an ocean between the two. It didn't seem like it at the time, but there really was.
Seriously, I remember Britpop. It was full of drugs and Bentleys and other things completely outside my teenage comprehension. I didn't even dare cut my hair as short as Justine Frischmann, let alone take up her lifestyle. At that age I still thought heroin was something secreted in smiley face stickers and left on school playing fields for unsuspecting toddlers to pick up, imbibe and consequently drop dead in order that their story could live on in public information ads and stern morning assemblies.
Ash were the first band who were a bit like us. They were roughly our age, they dressed like us, they played a modestly broad range of alternative music (yes they did - Trailer through 1977 to Nuclear Sounds are fair stylistic hops) that neatly spanned what we would be pretty much listening to anyway. It was like your older brother's mates who were in a band, and everyone fancied the lead singer a bit.
I still think Ash are an anomaly. Everybody of my age likes them, in that lovely nostalgic way you love the tatty old jumper you had your first snog in. I can't think of any other band that pushes all the same buttons for our generation. Put on this song on a night out now, and 95% of the room will dance. None of that toe-curling and arm-crossing you get when you hear Wonderwall or Charmless Man.
Did anyone actually ever smoke a Henry Winterman cigar after hearing this? I didn't. I did think about it though. Thought about cutting my hair short like Justine Frischmann too. Didn't do that either.