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 21/09/2005 | thedayglocarousel
Member since : 26/03/2005
Reviews : 4
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Excellent
Pro The perfect introduction to The Verve. Less commercial than 'Urban Hymns' and less ambiguous than 'A Storm in Heaven'.
Cons You may plummet to the pits of depression and thus never love again
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"I Don't Believe That Love is Free."

Though it may have only been a select few members of the music press, those who were lucky enough to be part of the early 90's North West music scene, and those who are enthusiastic enough to check what's emerging from the lower end of the charts, who knew it; The Verve were creating classic albums long before the commercial success of their 1994, bestselling album, 'Urban Hymns'. 'A Northern Soul' is the second of these albums, following the critical success of their 1993 album, 'A Storm in Heaven'.

Having released their debut album two years previously, The Verve embarked on a promotion tour of the U.S.A. In the mean time, the North West was producing the self acclaimed 'greatest band in the world' in Oasis, but it would seem that The Verve would escape the label of Brit Pop of which, with the help of the press, Oasis would help to create. The Verve were away from the action, suffering the kind of frustrations that would later become synonymous with many later bands who would seek success across the Atlantic, and those at home were enjoying all the fun.

Besides the oceanic brilliance of Nick McCabe's original sound, it was Richard Ashcroft's ability to confront profound issues through verse which had made A Storm in Heaven an album worthy of critical praise. With lines such as 'You shot him down their blood on my face' and 'Could be a lifetime before I see you again' in songs such as 'Blue' and 'See you In the Next One Have a Good Time' respectively; after the death of his father at an early age, the main theme of the album was death and loss. A Northern Soul continues with the central theme of loss, but this time the personal aspect of the album is painfully self absorbed. After receiving a cruel blow to his life, and mental health, Richard Ashcroft was soon provided with further cause for distress, having arrived home from the afore mentioned tour of the U.S.A. Already teetering on the brink of psychological melt down, having indulged in a cocktail of drugs, drink and profound thought for the past 6 months - and actually spending time in hospital after collapsing onstage due to self-induced dehydration - Richard Ashcroft returned to his beloved Wigan to discover his then girlfriend in bed with one of his ex-roadies. Cue: an album of love, loss, betrayal, frustration, impending loneliness, loss of faith (in the world and its people), and general sadness; with McCabe in a similar state, this is an album to stay at home to - Crack open the scotch, shed a few tears, and give The Verve the respect they so duly deserve.

The Verve are probably the most complete band since The Stone Roses. With the fantastic entrancing tones of Nick McCabe's ever changing spontaneous lead, the driving bass lines of Simon Jones - which, can be the driving force of a song such as 'Life's an Ocean', or even the perfect subtle accompaniment to McCabe's guitar in songs such as 'A new Decade' and 'This is Music', as well as the subtlety of Salisbury's drumming - blending into the sound created by the rest of the band, but nevertheless creating those certain elements of magic that only drummers notice but other bands miss, and the deep lyrics of Richard Ashcroft, who for my money has the edge on The Roses lead singer because he can actually sing live.

For me, A Northern Soul is probably their most mature album. Yes, even more so than 'Urban Hymns'. The complete album, including mixing by Owen Morris (the producer of Oasis' Definitely Maybe, Morning Glory, and Ash 1977, who followed in the steps of McCabe and also had a nervous breakdown after recording with the band) was recorded in just 4 weeks, after an initial two week stretch of jamming virtually non-stop, taking endless amounts of ecstasy and having absolutely no sleep. What results is the perfect record of not only a complete band at their most artistic time of life, but also a complete documentation of heart wrenching pain as experienced by their lead singer at, what we are lead to believe was, possibly one of the worst times of his life.

One highlight of the album is the beautiful 'History' - which takes the initial rhythm of William Blake's poem, 'London', as a means of depicting Ashcroft's lonely nights wandering the Thames after being forced to head South away from the pain of life back home. By all accounts, 'History' was recorded in one straight take at around 3 a.m. and like many of the other songs, especially 'On Your Own', the passion in Ashcroft's voice clearly reveals his inner most pains to accompany the lyrics - just like any other lonesome soul who becomes impassioned by the drink and consumed by the lonely hours of the early morning.

Further highlights include: (1) 'This Is Music': a song which contains the line 'I stand accused just like you for being born without a silver spoon' and reveals the struggles of Northern Working Class life and the only way by which they can be accepted - through music. (2) 'A New Decade': which, with its initial introduction of McCabe's ringing guitars, serves as the first track on the album and reveals what is about to come in the sense that it is a new stage in the life of the band and its members; and, of course, (3) 'Life's an Ocean' which gives bass player, Simon Jones, his chance to shine in the limelight, and once again, Ashcroft the chance to prove that he really is a modern day poet in its purest sense.

Buy this album! Discover your pains; your life will be so much worse for it.

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Comments on this review

  • missy0303 published 21/09/2005
    Good review, I loved Urban Hymns, and haven't yet come across this one in my local music shop (which i love) I will be asking for it next time i pop in though. sounds like another great album! Michelle x (ps hadn't noticed it was posted twice lol, im sure you'll get it fixed eventually) x
  • psychstudent1 published 21/09/2005
    Not too familiar with this but loved Urban Hymns.
  • RockBoi published 21/09/2005
    as is mentioned below, why's this posted twice ? (back on topic, I quite liked the Verve when they were around, good job there). Alex
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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

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Listed on Ciao since: 21/09/2005