Northern Soul, A - Verve (The)

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Northern Soul, A - Verve (The)

Brit Pop - StudioRecording - 1 CD(s) - Label: Hut, Virgin - Distributor: EMI Operations/CEVA Logistics, Universal Music - Released: 07/1995, 03/07/199...

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Review of "Northern Soul, A - Verve (The)"

published 26/06/2000 | inspiralcarpet
Member since : 26/06/2000
Reviews : 41
Members who trust : 2
About me :
Pro strong album, few weak tracks
Cons everything which followed it (including the ill-advised solo career)
very helpful

"REAL urban hymns"

imagine the future, woke up with a scream, I was buying some feelings from a vending machine

Make no mistake about it, Radiohead are not the only band alienated and afraid. Three years prior to OK Computer, the Verve released this album, easily their best, which displays all the same listlessness and dejection forged by modern culture of Radiohead's finest moment. The difference is that Richard Ashcroft is more of a storyteller than a commentator. He chooses to speak for the characters in the song and autobiographically, rather than for abstract characters who could represent any of us - or all of us.

Of course, the Verve are better known for their overblown, singles-orientated album Urban Hymns than this piece of work. When that album shifted thousands upon thousands of units, the music press tried to claim that, rather than the Verve selling out, the public were just more ready to hear their sound. Although it pains me to say it, that simply is not true. Whilst Bittersweet Symphony, The Drugs Don't Work, Lucky Man and Sonnet were all excellent singles, that album represented a much more commercially-acute Verve; and these singles sat ill at ease with the rest of the album.

A Northern Soul is a vastly superior version of the fillers on Urban Hymns. Whereas that album grated, and frankly bored, this album sounds fresh and vital in comparison. Savage violins complement a strong guitar sound in much of the work, and Richard Ashcroft's voice soars above it with the pride, confidence, and arrogance of someone certain this is his finest hour. Backed by droning, hypnotic guitars and a mish mash of sounds, the album has a strong and distinctive sound, blending well together as a whole.

What usually tends to happen on such strong albums is that there is no obvious standout tracks. But true classics have them - for me, No Surprises on OK Computer was such a song, standing out from even the most sublime album ever recorded. And on A Northern Soul, The Verve go one step further. I cannot overemphasise the majesty and beauty of track number eight, History. The violins are at their most searing, Ashcroft's voice at its most anthemic and desolate, and the lyrics at their most potent. The story is of a Northern boy, isolated by an escape to London, but the emotions evoked are universal. This is simply the best song of the 1990's. No question.

This album will not be loved by everyone. People looking for an obvious precursor to Urban Hymns will be disappointed, and the album does require perseverance before it can be fully appreciated. But for all this, there is no excuse not to own this album.

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Comments on this review

  • Jogga published 09/06/2006
    of the same mind on this one. Miles better than the wet UH
  • dreamscancometrue published 19/12/2005
    sounds good to me :)
  • JulianRobertConnor published 10/07/2005
    One of my favourite albums ever. So underated its untrue. Ashcroft at his most genius.
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Product Information : Northern Soul, A - Verve (The)

Manufacturer's product description

Brit Pop - StudioRecording - 1 CD(s) - Label: Hut, Virgin - Distributor: EMI Operations/CEVA Logistics, Universal Music - Released: 07/1995, 03/07/1995 - 724384055820, 724384043728

Product Details

EAN: 724384055820, 724384043728


Listed on Ciao since: 21/09/2005