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Volume 91, Issue 21

Thursday, October 2, 1997



On The Verve of world domination

©Eddie Monsoon/Virgin

By Jonathan Hale
Gazette Staff

On August 29, 1995, it happened. Differences of opinion, personal problems and an inability to communicate culminated – and the only solution was to split up. The Verve, a highly loved and extremely talented band from northern Britain called it quits. Fans were left in shock and confusion, but life went on. Rumours began to fly about what each member was doing, but like most music industry rumours, the fans were being lied to. No solo projects were really taking place at all.

"I wasn't doing a solo career, I was just in a studio spending lots of money trying not to go insane, but going insane in the process," explains lead vocalist Richard Ashcroft. "I was biding time until I got the tap on the shoulder or the voice in my head. [The solo work] didn't turn out because [guitarist] Nick McCabe wasn't there and I wasn't in The Verve."

Ashcroft and McCabe realized that as separate musicians, the sense of musical perfection, the trippy, spacey music they had spent a few years playing, just couldn't be created anymore. Well, that is, unless they decided to give The Verve another go. And so they did. And this week, the product of their great reformation will finally hit the stores. Entitled Urban Hymns, the album contains some of the best music this band has ever created.

Do you care to disagree? From the opening orchestrated number entitled "Bitter Sweet Symphony" to acoustic songs like "Lucky Man" or "One Day," one realizes the band's intensity has become formulated. A more complex yet contained model has been created, which doesn't wig out on crazy solos to empower the audience, but instead grabs your attention so quickly that it's mesmerizing qualities will not be questioned. What fans will realize – if they haven't already – is The Verve contains extremely talented songwriters and musicians whose ability surpasses most others, simply because of all the attention and concentration put into the music over their time apart.

"There's different people and different souls in the band who bring in different things," Ashcroft notes. "Nick McCabe could bring the most violent piece of guitar you've ever heard, but he can also bring the most beautiful, rifting piece of magic which shows you the other side."

The most notable piece of magic is the album's second British single "The Drugs Don't Work," a song so overly emotional and inspiring in meaning, that it is not surprising it has brought many a listener to tears. Its meaning, while maybe different for everyone who hears it, was discussed by Ashcroft.

"It could be anything and basically it means that when you get to the point where the drugs don't work anymore.... the drugs don't work anymore!" he emphasizes. "I think a lot of people have been to that point and the only salvation is love. And you think 'Well that isn't working, but you're working and if you disappear, then I'm coming with you, because you mean more to me than any high.'"

But though the sweeping orchestra and acoustic guitars may represent a different description than what most people are accustomed to using for The Verve, Urban Hymns still has a few mesmerizing sonic trances, as reflected in "The Rolling People" or "Catching The Butterfly."

The best part of all is that Ashcroft won't hide his happiness or great expectations for the album, because he knows the music is just too good for his band to be ignored anymore. Though sales in North America have been slow on the band's first two albums, Ashcroft expects to find success everywhere with Urban Hymns – but plans to maintain control this time.

"We're going to be thrust into the world scene and we're going to give it the big 'Fuck you,' and we'll take it wherever we want," Ashcroft quips with certainty.

And with songs this good, he sounds pretty accurate.

To Contact The Entertainment Department: gazent@julian.uwo.ca

Copyright © The Gazette 1997