A small English town Wigan would probably never been heard of outside Britain if it did not produce two remarkable jewels. A brave football team, currently playing in The Premier League. And (more importantly) one of the best pshychedelic rock bands of all times - The Verve. In 1989 Wigan became a bithplace of this controvercial band, created by four soulmates, Richard Ashcroft, Nick McCabe, Simon Jones and Peter Salisbury.
The first releases of The Verve, originally designed by Brian Cannon, appeared in 1992 - a number of singles, starting with "All in the Mind" and closing with "Verve EP". The music as well authentic as exclusive made a big impression on specialists. But typically for The Verve it was no commercial success. Neither was the first album with the leading single "Blue". Not suprisingly though, it was not exactly "radio music". The members of the band were perfectly aware of the situation. Richard Ashcroft said once: "I don't think we're ever going to achieve what we want to achieve. It would be impossible, but that's the point - to aim further". This is a good demonstration of the two sides of The Verve's story. Making magical sound driven by passion and personal perception of music on one hand and in a certain way lack of selfconfindence on the other. I for one would never want The Verve be different from what they have always been, but I have a strong feeling of The Verve being commonly unknown and underappreciated. Not that it matters in terms of music, but this band should take a place in the music history that it truly deserves.
The success and third break-up
The first album "A Storm in Heaven" released in 1993 was followed by the second "A Nothern Soul" in 1995 and a break-up of the band. It is not easy to keep track of break-ups of The Verve in this period. The grindings between the band members started already during the tours after the first album, causing a couple of "small" break-ups. But in 1995 Ashcroft and then McCabe decided to leave the band. Probably nobody can say for sure what exactly caused this particular break-up. Relations between four free spirits musicians are never easy. But in this period, marked by extremely high creative intencity and plenty of drugs The Verve would probably break-up even if it consised of one member only.
Luckely the band of four came together again pretty fast in 1995 (gaining the fifth member in process, Simon Tong). The result of this collabration became the third and most commercially successfull album "Urban Hymns". But The Verve would not be The Verve without the controversy. The very tracks that made The Verve so popular, like "Sonnet" and "Lucky Man", for many loyal fans became the reason to criticise the band for getting away from the roots. Well... I disagree. This album still works on emotional and sensitive level like the first two. Take for example a couple of narcotic tracks "Catching the Butterfly" and "The Rolling People". But the difference is that the band have become better in transforming their ideas into the sound. Creative progress is an inevitable and actually a good thing. And you should never compair a naive sound of "A Storm in Heaven" with experienced "Urban Hymns".
Following the tradition The Verve broke up again after the third album. This time it lasted a little longer.
Almost ten years lasted the Verveless period. In 2004 the band reminded about themselves one more time though. A compilation album "This is music" was issued. Not a big cancelation for the fans, who were desperately hoping for another come-back. And the dream came true. In 2007 The Verve have come together again with four members who initially started it. There are some rumours about how it exactly happened, involving Salisbury, but at the end it does not matter. It did happen and this is what matters.
But was it worth wating? Oh yes, it was! This time The Verve surpassed everybody including themselves with the unique sound of "Forth". It is no use to try to describe the beauty of music in words, so I will try not to do it.
The album is absolutely flawless and deserved the place among the best albums of all times. It should be mentioned that the tracks are "traditionally" not radio friendly, so to get the right impact of this magical and even esoteric sound you will have to listen to it on a good system. Again "traditionally" this album has got deserved recognition only from specialists but not from the public, but who cares?
At the moment The Verve is officially broken-up. There has been a number of controvercial (again of course) interviews of Richard Ashcroft. So first he said there would be no point to reunite The Verve anymore, as they achieved everything they could achieve as a band. After a couple of weeks he said that it was not excluded that The Verve would come together again. So let us hold to this last thought and wait for the next verveless period to come over as soon as possible...
Next to come: TABS