There's no Girls Aloud album this year so to keep Universal Music from the brink of collapse the band's label have compiled all 20 of Girls Aloud's consecutive Top 10 singles (and 'Untouchable') in a box.
Each single is represented by a CD containing all the mixes, b‑sides and bonus features from across the original formats, which means that various out-of-circulation tracks are legally purchasable for the first time in ages. In an era when exact audio copying for all puts an odd slant on the concept of 'rare songs' the box also includes something quite special: a CD of unheard tracks and outtakes fished out from down the back of Xenomania filing cabinets, pulled from the pop-filled hard drives Miranda Cooper uses as doorstops, dusted down from the 80ft-high piles of unlabeled CD-Rs in the Xenomania back garden, etc etc.
The £45 box set — it's sort of a bargain, when you think about it — also features some rather excellent (ie we did them) sleevenotes. While we were putting them together we conducted a two and a half hour interview with Brian Higgins* in which he ran through the highs and the lows of each of Girls Aloud's singles. It was a strangely emotional feeling hearing about the last seven years of British Pop on fastforward, and one of the most exciting bits was Higgins discussing the formation of Girls Aloud's second single, 'No Good Advice', which was a pivotal release for both Girls Aloud and Xenomania, and set both parties up for a long run of hits. At one point he told us that the day before he delivered it to the label he sat outside the studio, in the snow, and listened to the song 85 times. We mention all this today (the box set's been on pre-order for a few weeks) because Spotify have a preview of the box set and it includes the full-length original demo of that song. Click here for a listen.
And there we have it.
* Translation: Brian Higgins talked at us for two and a half hours.