The Verve this Tuesday – Recorded on June 19, 1995 for Mark Radcliffe at BBC Radio 1. A brief rundown on where the band was, emotionally and musically during this particular phase in the bands career.
The band’s physical and mental turmoil continued into the chaotic recording sessions of the band’s second album, 1995’s A Northern Soul, produced by Owen Morris. The band departed from the experimental psychedelic sounds of A Storm in Heaven and focused more on conventional alternative rock, with Ashcroft‘s vocals taking a more prominent role in the songs, although reminiscent of some of the early work. Around this period, Oasis guitarist and friend of Ashcroft, Noel Gallagher, dedicated the song “Cast No Shadow” on the album (What’s the Story) Morning Glory? to Ashcroft, and Ashcroft returned the gesture by dedicating the song “A Northern Soul” to Noel.
The band released the album’s first single “This Is Music” in May, and it reached No. 35, their first single to reach the Top 40. It was followed by “On Your Own” in June which performed even better, reaching No. 28. This single was particularly new for the Verve as it was a soulful ballad. The album reached the UK Top 20 upon its release in July, but Ashcroft broke up the band three months later, just before the release of the third single “History”, which reached No. 24 in September. Ashcroft later stated: “I knew that I had to do it earlier on, but I just wouldn’t face it. Once you’re not happy in anything, there’s no point living in it, is there? But my addiction to playing and writing and being in this band was so great that I wouldn’t do anything about it. It felt awful because it could have been the greatest time of our lives, with “History” doing well, but I still think I can look myself in the mirror in 30 years time and say, ‘Yeah man, you did the right thing.’ The others had been through the same thing. It was a mixture of sadness and regret, and relief that we would have some time away.”
Ashcroft reunited with Jones and Salisbury just a few weeks after the break-up, but McCabe did not rejoin them. The new band hired former Suede guitarist Bernard Butler, but he spent only a couple of days with the band. The band then chose Simon Tong, a school friend credited with originally teaching Ashcroft and Jones to play guitar. The band made no live appearances for all of 1996, apart from a solo performance from Ashcroft supporting Oasis in New York. The rest of the year was spent playing and recording songs for a new album.
Needless to say, The Verve were one of the touchstone bands of the 1990s who, despite having been broken up and gone in other directions and to other bands some nine years later, still remain relevant and vital.
Good music does that – good music never gets old.
Crank it up.