Tragic Kingdom by No Doubt // Newbury Comics Exclusive Rainbow Vinyl

Tragic Kingdom is the hit breakthrough album by No Doubt, released in 1995 to widespread critical acclaim. Blending a mix of pop, punk, rock and ska, it was a groundbreaking album for the music landscape of the mid-90's and instantly became a timeless classic. It was the band's third album together, which differed quite a bit from their first two lesser-known records, partly because of the interpersonal drama within the lives of the members at the time. For the first time, No Doubt's music was mainly written from the perspective of the band's frontwoman Gwen Stefani. This album was just the start of Gwen becoming the major force in pop music that she was for much of the next decade to follow. This record still is just as relevant now as it was then, I hear the influences of Tragic Kingdom and Gwen's emblematic attitude try to be replicated by so many modern pop and rock records released today. 

This album spawned several massive hits for them, including "Spiderwebs", "Just A Girl", "Happy Now?" and "Don't Speak", which are among some of the most commercially successful and recognizable from this album. My favorite is "Just A Girl", which is a song I feel is more relevant today than ever. It details Gwen's personal experience with being pushed into traditional female stereotypes in a male-dominated society. "Take this pink ribbon off my eyes, I'm exposed and it's no big surprise, don't you think I know exactly where I stand? This world is forcing me to hold your hand", she sings in the iconic opening lines. It is inherently sarcastic, fun and feminine in a way that embodies Gwen's signature style so well. 

Amidst the mainly alternative and grunge styles that defined most of the 1990's, No Doubt was a rush of energy and step in a new direction with their lively, dynamic approach music. Their life in suburban Anaheim, California is an influence at the forefront of this record too. Second only to Disneyland, No Doubt are absolutely some of the most notable cultural forces to come from there. The album's title is even a play on The Magic Kingdom, nicknamed by the seventh-grade teacher of Tom Dumont, the band's guitarist. On the album's title track, they detail the disenchantment with the dark reality behind the fantasy that the company portrays. I love the vivid imagery and metaphors in that song tied together with classic Disney motifs, it is just so captivating to listen to. 

Gwen's breakup with Tony Kanal, the band's bassist, is at the center of a lot of the music on this album, as well. The band's first and only ballad, "Don't Speak" is so emotionally raw in sharing her perspective of the breaking point of that relationship. "Don't speak, I know just what you're sayin', so please stop explainin', don't tell me 'cause it hurts", she sings in the chorus, which is so simply written but exudes so much vulnerability in her heartbreak. In an interview with Rolling Stone, Gwen talked about the way so much of Tragic Kingdom was shaped by that breakup, "I was like, 'Fuck, I can't keep writing about the same thing. But I 
gotta write about what's in my head, and that's the only thing on my mind.'" It is such a classic and among the best of the best the band has ever released.

"When Tragic Kingdom had its 25th anniversary, it was quite nostalgic to watch everybody posting. I didn't know I was going to feel like that. It was kind of depressing, it was kind of nostalgic, it was a very strange feeling," Gwen said in an interview with Jimmy Kimmel in 2021. "I have no idea what the future is with the band," she continued. "I never would've imagined that we would've put the 30 years into it that we did in the first place."

The band went on a long hiatus after Gwen's solo music took off, but reunited briefly in the late 2000's before embarking on a second hiatus. Their last album as a band, Push and Shove, was released back in 2012 and the last time they performed together was nearly a decade ago. No Doubt reunited for the first time in nine years for a special guest spot at Coachella this year, so it felt like the perfect time to share a little bit about this album and the vinyl pressing I have for it. 

The pressing I have of Tragic Kingdom is stunning, it's absolutely one of the most unique I have ever seen. It was an exclusive to Newbury Comics, one of my favorite indie record stores based in New England. Newbury Comics called it the "Tragic Magic Multicolor Marble" variant and all of the rainbow colors are so bright and vibrant. It matches the theming of the album artwork so beautifully, I love everything about the design so much. I got it as a gift for my 16th birthday back in 2015 when I got my very first turntable. It was one of the earliest records in my collection and I will always cherish it! It is one of only 800 pressings made exclusively for Newbury Comics, also making it one of the rarest and most limited releases I have too.

Some of my earliest musical memories are listening to this album, so I have really grown up loving so much of these songs since I was very young. I also have always loved Gwen's solo music too, especially her first two albums from the early 2000's. Although her style has changed a lot over the years, there was still no one cooler than her during that era.

I loved watching the livestream of their Coachella performance, it was such a fantastic show and I really hope to see them perform together again one day. Despite the band's reunion this year for the festival, Gwen has also recently talked about how there are currently no plans for them to make any more music or tour together in the future as No Doubt. Regardless, it was still so cool to see them come together one more time, even if it's just for two weekends in the desert!

If you're interested in purchasing a copy of Tragic Kingdom by No Doubt*, I would really appreciate if you would do so through my affiliate link*, which I may earn a commission from. It's one of my favorites and I'm sure the same will be for you too! Shop more No Doubt music here*

Thanks for reading! I have an extensive collection of both No Doubt's and Gwen Stefani's discography on vinyl, so if there is a particular album or pressing you'd like to see next, let me know in the comment section below! 

-Melissa ♡

All photos are my own!

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