OVER THE past decade, Ash have fared phenomenally well in Britain, but less so abroad, such as the United States or Asia. Indeed, some British music critics have expressed surprise that the former 'teenage pop-punk machine' lasted longer than a few years. But someone out there must love their catchy - often noisy - tunes, as they have just released Intergalatic Sonic 7's, a bumper collection of their singles and B-sides. Stuffed with more than 24 tracks, this double-CD is value for money. However, melodic as their music may be, Ash really isn't everybody's cup of tea. Intergalatic Sonic 7's charts the band's progress as well as change of musical direction. Formed in 1992 by three lads from Belfast, Northern Ireland - Tim Wheeler (vocals, guitar), Mark Hamilton (bass) and Rick McMurray (drums) - the trio were inspired by grunge supremo Nirvana. They released their first single Jack Names The Planet two years later and immediately found a huge fan base. However, like so many rock bands and pop groups, success was too much for Ash. Addictions, arguments, arrests and even breakdowns ensued. During this period they somehow still managed to come up with some credible stuff, including hit singles Goldfinger and Oh Yeah in 1996. A year later, the band became a quartet with Charlotte Hatherley joining as the second guitarist. Nu-Clear Sounds followed featuring a new Ash sound, which was edgier, raw, and full of angst. But it was not until the release of Free All Angels last year that saw them raised from the proverbial ashes. 'There hasn't been a more consistently electrifying rock album since [Oasis'] Definitely Maybe,' raved New Musical Express. Indeed, the LP's smash hit Burn Baby Burn has earned the band accolades galore, including both an NME Brat Award and Q 'Single Of The Year' honours. Another track, Candy, is undoubtedly a pop masterpiece. Still, for every smash hit there is an obscure speaker-blasting tune (and there are plenty of those on the second CD). Intergalatic Sonic 7's is a must-buy for Ash fans, but how well it will fare in Hong Kong is yet to be seen.