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Sunday, December 16, 2012

The Verve A Storm In Heaven

      Featuring Richard Ashcroft and Nick McCabe 
Written by Bobby Hurley and Bill Watt 
      
Verve A Storm in Heaven is as much a psychedelic shoe gazer 

album as Pink Floyd's Darkside of the Moon. A Storm in Heaven is 

the less popular masterpiece. Let us explore: The Verve's music

 floats you like an out-of-body experience. Your spirit floats freely

to unascertained areas of your psyche. You think about a better

 place in this world. However, some of the songs, like Slide Away

 transmit feelings of energy, coolness and power. The beauty of

 this music is that your interpretation is correct.

       A storm in Heaven has a few phases: In the first phase occurs in the first few songs, I am in the quest of finding my body and spirit and refining my personality (which needs refining). The second phase starts with The Sun The Sea, I break on through to the next desired major destination of my life. A new job, new place to live, new relationship, etc. The third phase "Butterfly" is the "storm" of final adjustments. The fourth phase begins at See You In the Next One (Have A good time), a period of peace that I stand as a better person grateful to God for my new place, job, relationship etc.
       I was going to claim that A Storm In Heaven was better than Pink Floyd's Darkside of the Moon, but after listening to Darkside of The Moon I felt the albums were equal. Now that I avoid a dull comparison of what album I think is better I contrast them more meaningfully. I find A Storm in Heaven has a much darker mystique. Darkside of the Moon is more emotionally detached but with less madness. Darkside of the Moon has brighter sounding chords but is no less trippy. Pink Floyd's album has incredible vocals and the music has layers of sound. I love the guitar solo of Time, one of my all time favorites. Placing Darkside of the Moon the title track near the end of the album is perfect.
Pink Floyd's Groundbreaking Album Darkside of the Moon

       Feeling sad on a November night I listen to Darkside of the Moon from beginning to end in one take. This is how music should be listened to. The music gave me a mysterious and exciting experience.  I played the Skate Heaven level of Tony Hawk Pro Skater 2 as I listened. Outer Space enhanced the trip. I desire music is excessive and different sounding. This certainly was! One major point of music is to brighten your step and attitude; Darkside of the Moon achieved this for me. As I get in the car with a red mountain dew, I drive under the pink and orange sky. I ask you to darken this experience and try listening to A Storm in Heaven.
   
       The more obscure Verve A Storm in Heaven lifts you into a whirlwind of emotion. I can point out to you the twists on this albums but it's no substitute for you experiencing it.



The Verve A Storm In Heaven
 Star Sail begins the journey into a musical world with a psychedelic punch. The guitar riffs are catchy, and you plead for more. Star Sail brings cool feelings of a beautiful foreign world's cave. Indeed, the front cover illustrates a cave. The album's sleeve also has a barn on fire, a cave-man watching television. And on the back cover someone is sleeping in a graveyard. Is it Richard Ashcroft?
       Brian Cannon the sleeve artist says, "The concept behind the overall sleeve was four separate images depicting the journey of life. This (the barn on fire) is the second image and represent youth; the idea was if there was a car on fire in your front garden you would immediately call the fire brigade and no doubt panic a little." 
       Verve, who later became The Verve (due to legal reasons) struck gold in their early career with A Storm in Heaven. The atmospheric rock music hypnotizes you into an intense trance. When one listens to this album in a quiet atmosphere with headphones he or she hears all the subtleties, the layers of guitars and loudness. A lyric sheet allows you to appreciate Ashcroft's songwriting genius, and the overall power of this album. However, the album and this music is not for everyone. If you want a more vocal oriented standardized  pop sound with less exploration, I recommend The Verve's Urban Hymns.

Slide Away    
Music video



At first listen Slide Away sounds like an uplifting U2 song from their 1992 album Achtung  Baby, but Ashcroft's is less upbeat. Slide Away is manic. Richard's lyrics of love and madness coincide with the images of fire in the album art. A unique experience awaits those who listen to Slide Away with headphones instead of speakers.
     
       Slide Away starts with a tremendous guitar riff and catchy hook. 22 seconds into the song a chirpy guitar sound is played. Let yourself dance. The remainder of the song has an energizing bass riff. The lyrics give the song a cool vibe. This vibe overshadows any exploratory space rock element of the song. Slide Away portrays letting go of pride, the nervous excitement of being with a first love at night, and the freedom of not being self righteous. This song temporarily frees you of obsessions and addictions. You can overcome the mental dullness of a routine. 

The lyrics; "I wonder if you're here just to use my mind" presumably indicates a mistress present. The singer and her have a tangled up and ecstatic romance.
The line, "You always do that, something I'm not sure of"
is the woman affecting the man with mysterious emotions.
But Just for today
let go slide away.
The lyrics urge you to let go of your cares, your mistakes, and to enjoy the night's freedom and euphoria.
                                               My song captures the night's excitement. 

I was thinking maybe we could go outside

Let the night sky cool your foolish pride
Don't you feel alive?
These are your times and our highs 

The chorus intensifies this idea of letting go of personal pride and cares. The heavy rhythm brings cool and energizing feelings. The Verve members travel on foot in the Slide Away music video. Similarly, The Verve's  members travel in a convertible in the Gravity Grave music video.
The next line: I wonder which cup you drink from I hope its' mine alludes to the singer being a Christ-like leader who wants the girl to follow him. Throughout the song the vocals maintain a rhythm so You can dance.

The mystery of her mind is an exasperating puzzle to solve.
Cause I read your mind
I read it because it takes me where I can find
This brings real intensity. He is treasuring her mind's delirium.

The crazy excitement of romance continues:
I was thinking maybe we could go outside
Let the night sky cool your foolish pride
Don't you feel alive? 
These are our times and these are your highs

The song's intensity relaxes when the guitar chirtles and the music becomes slow and trippy. The slowly sung lyrics, "Slide away burn away"  beautifully accompany the music. They suggest easing the crazed relationship. THEN the music explodes with unmatched intensity. He rediscovers the hidden treasures of her mind and the night's euphoria. Imagine a night on a pier with your lover, like my music video illustrates (minus the lover).

       The song's end has Ashcroft singing passionately to his girlfriend. The wild sounding guitars match this emotion as he yells, "FINNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNND." Also around 3 minutes into the song are mysterious sounding wind chimes. Comment with corrections if necessary.

I am a big fan of good live bands, like The Verve here:

I am also a creature of habit and don't like certain things tampered with. I dislike a band's live version differing too much from the album version. After all, I want to relax and follow the music at the concert, not have to closely listen to new lyrics or guitar riffs. The Verve satisfy me, by having the live version very similar to the album version. As mentioned before, the beginning of Slide Away has  peculiar guitar parts and a rocking bass rhythm.  The bass is the driving force of the song. Ashcroft sings with energy and strength, dancing when musically appropriate. But Ashcroft is also good at being silent, pausing to let the people hear the band's music. I associate Slide Away with night time, however, this live daytime performance is very well received by the fans.  The song an instrument that plays the adrenaline in their bodies.
       The Verve's music has a quiet, loud dynamic. Early 1990s rock bands like Nirvana popularized this type of music. A Storm in Heaven was produced in 1993 when the grunge movement very much alive. However A Storm in Heaven is separated from the grunge movement and its short guitar solos.  Slide Away in particular utilizes the quiet loud dynamic. The heart of the song rests with the chorus that expels feelings of excitement, contentment, love, and madness.
"Don't you feel alive?" is such a great lyric referring to deep joy; joy from your perspective on life and love. Slide Away is heavy yet dynamic. Listen to the song's many live versions to discover your favorite.

The Verve's Unique rhythm
Already There
This song has somber imagery of gray dark spaces. The Indian-like drums sift through the atmosphere of emptiness. Without headphones the song's guitar rhythm is too soft to be appreciated. The guitar lines become increasingly enjoyable throughout the song, they climax into a great solo around 3:50. The lyrics are inspirational.
If trees cut stars and eyest to heaven
I'll bend them back and bend them again
If my skin looks tired and old from living
These lyrics are sung with interesting style.
Then I heard it turn off  sounds like "turtle" because of the song's desperation. The song's drug fueled destination gives you a calm trip.
       This song and the whole album influenced one of my most psychedelic and psychotic dreams. The dream featured past loves, current acquaintances and places I've been. I entered into an underground tunnel that connected my college's dormitories. There was a narrow stairway connecting to the Hyatt hotel that my cousin had his wedding at. I was looking for a therapist but ran into an evil looking woman instead. A guy drove a golf cart with flashing lights. I got in the hotel's elevators on the bottom level. I realized the elevator was going to crush me, and I prepared to die. At the last moment they stopped above me and I slithered out from under. I then flirted with some girls my age for a while before walking into the stormy night. This music much like a powerful hallucinogen and takes your life, your acquaintances, and your problems and gives you a weird spin and calm trip.
     
       Beautiful Mind

This fan made video has great dark imagery. The music cascades in waves of sound, with mystifying lyrics. If you allow yourself to be hypnotized by the song you can fade into a state of unknown; not knowing where you are or what you are doing. This is a great to listen when driving through the woods at night. This is an exciting experience. This song illustrates ocean waves breaking on an Island's shore. A cliff looming in the distance.
A beautiful mind or a beautiful body 
Which one do you choose?

The Sun The Sea

In contrast to Beautiful Mind,  The Sun The Sea alarms your current state of mind, regardless of how many times you have previously played the album. The subject of the song is about a  broken relationship with one partner mentoring the other. The singing is in sync with the music. My friends who normally only listen to mainstream rap enjoyed this song, asking what the song title and band were. The slightly disturbing lyrics and intensely loud instruments won't be appropriate for DJing your grandma's party. But that's your problem.

The synthesizer enters 1 minute 20 seconds in. All different kinds of guitars make weird sounds. A saxophone enters at 4 minutes. The dualing saxophones sound sick. Must be Bill Clinton and another saxophone player.
Artist Brian Cannon, depicts youth The Verve A Storm in Heaven


Virtual World
is weird but lovely song with good horn instruments. Not sure if it is Bill Clinton returning to play saxophone. Check the credits. Virtual World is an epic song that slowly builds into an emotional charged trip. This song has the most straightforward message to interpret. We all relate to a virtual world, whether tv, cell phone, video games or whatever way we escape reality to find happiness, safety and security. Virtual World is based around an acoustic guitar with other instruments chiming in; a lot of synthesizer sounds. Two minutes into the song has a very effective transition to the verse. The song is folksy but not uncharacteristic of The Verve. 3 and a half minutes in the flute enters, followed by a combination of guitar and flute. The singing and percussion continue to switch roles.  
       One of the greatest stories is Gullivers Travels because you sense when he finds himself in a new world. That's the type of music I imagine The Verve playing, the music describes their unspeakable feelings in this new world.

Make It Til Monday

The song opens with trippy guitars. The interesting lyrics are standardly sung. The lyrics are cohesive to the strangeness of the album and create a smooth transition into the latter part of the album. Make it till Monday is about surviving a drug trip til the following Monday. The enjoyable guitar sounds resonate. This is the psychedelic highlight of the album.  

Blue
One of three loudest songs on the album because of a solid bass and rhythmic guitar. The dark lyrics concerning a pill, are sung with cool style. I consider songs like the Weight and Up on Cripple Creek as other songs sung with great style. They pack a punch. 


Butterfly
is a very cool song with the horn instruments. The listening experience awaits you. Hear this musical adventure for yourself. You will either love it or hate it. 
See You In The Next One (Have A Good Time)
A Storm in Heaven undoubtedly takes the listener through many turns. The final track is most surprising; a ballad sung over Nick McCabe's wonderful piano playing. A very cool way to phase out this album. 

Conclusion
Fans of British rock, particularly  fans of Porcupine Tree like listening to an album in one sitting, without distractions. The Verve have created an album to be listened to in this way. All songs tie together musically and vocally.  They have similarly tuned instruments and few chords. However, no song sounds alike. One of the most musically cohesive albums comparable to Porcupine Tree The Incident. When Verve craft well-orchestrated music the listener experiences more than she expects. The spacey yet adventurous
Verve A Storm In Heaven back cover
music rises you above your life problems. In later blog posts, I will profile another adventurous and more energizing album; Porcupine Tree Deadwing. But any version of Slide Away is equal to anything in terms of energy. The overall unusual experience of this album equals Pink Floyd's Dark Side of the Moon. I'm not sure which album has longer guitar solos but both albums have a deep unknown mentality. If you like Pink Floyd, treat yourself to Verve A Storm In Heaven.












Wednesday, May 23, 2012

The Verve Urban Hymns Nick McCabe and Richard Ashcroft

Nick McCabe and Richard Ashcroft  

By Bobby Hurley and Bill Watt
The Verve Urban Hymns is a quintessential alternative rock album of the 1990s, when the popularity of British alternative music is spreading like wild-fire. From this come two of the most talented musical artists: singer Richard Ashcroft and guitarist Nick McCabe. The Verve put out this landmark alternative rock album Urban Hymns in 1997. The familiar Bittersweet Symphony kicks off this epic album . Every urban hymn of the album is classic and the equal to Bittersweet symphony. Radio airplay is not a good indication of a song's worth. Listen to this album as a whole and decide what tracks are especially moving to you. Here is a live performance of Bittersweet symphony:

The Verve is comprised of the most talented and underrated live musicians. Nick McCabe improvises guitar lines during concerts! The Verve is cool and their homecoming concert in Wigan England validates this fact. Haigh Hall 1998 in Wigan, England

This concert features a clever mix of great songs from Urban Hymns. The Verve guitarist Nick McCabe, hair blowing across his face, seems uncaring about his image. The opposite of a snob, he’s in this music business purely to create beautiful guitar soundscapes. Richard Ashcroft’s well crafted tunes compliment him perfectly. Invite some friends to watch this concert with you. Heck, get some Strobe lights, a disco ball, platform shoes and Tostitos to complete this party.
Here is the track listing of this ground breaking concert:
Sonnet: On the stage, Nick McCabe is far left, Ashcroft is middle, Bassist Simon Jones is far right and drummer Pete Salisbury is behind them.
The Drugs Don’t Work Enough said.
Lucky Man McCabe makes great guitar sounds and effects yet maintains strong rhythmic guitar. The keyboard adds an extravagant touch to the orchestra sounds.
Velvet Morning
Nick McCabe plays amazing guitar without an ostentatious presence. This puts Ashcroft in the spot light. Velvet Morning describes pride and coolness that you feel courageously facing another day, overcoming your obstacles and spending time without your addictions. The song describes feeling great and doing amazing things with little recognition.
Bittersweet Symphony Epic!
Come On

A rush of adrenaline pulses through your veins. This song has creative lyrics, a unique beat that drives the song and cool guitar effects. The song finishes on a crescendo.
     
       The Verve is singer Richard Ashcroft, lead guitarist Nick McCabe, Bassist Simon Jones and drummer Pete Salisbury. Simon Tong adds some delightful guitar work throughout the album. Most notably the catchy guitar beat in the beginning of Lucky Man. The Verve is an appropriate name to describe the band. Verve means: 1. Creative enthusiasm: enthusiasm energy, or spirit, especially in the expression of artistic ideas. 2. Vitality: lively vigorous spirit. The purpose of this blog is to introduce the Verve. I will recommend concerts, albums and fan sites showing their great chemistry. Bassist Simon Jones and drummer Pete Salisbury maintain a great rhythm. Nick McCabe harmoniously adds exploratory guitar in combination with Richard Ashcroft’s sensational singing. He doesn’t sing lines or words but truly sings syllables and notes. Ashcroft acknowledged Nick McCabe's role in shaping their sound saying, “I love Nick McCabe, and I never want to be in a band if he’s not playing the guitar. I hope he thinks the same about me. We just needed time to release it." http://special.the-raft.com/theverve/nickarticle.html Nick McCabe’s guitar and Ashcroft’s deep and charismatic lyrics sung poetically make their songs unique and open to interpretation.
The Verve band members sitting on grass next to a dog
Even the dog on the grass thinks the Verve members rock


       Bittersweet Symphony starts Urban Hymns with an explosion of sound and emotion. After The Verve’s first splitting Richard Ashcroft wrote Urban Hymns as a solo record. Ashcroft then rejoined the band excluding Nick McCabe. McCabe was invited after the majority of songs were completed. The music centers on Ashcroft. Urban Hymns is the Verve’s most triumphant feeling record. These songs are indeed Urban Hymns, hip and meaningful but equally devotional. The exception is Come On which is explosive raw energy and emotion. Urban Hymns has more predictable song structure and solid production than the previous two albums, A Northern Soul and A Storm in Heaven. Urban Hymns has fewer but more focused lyrics than A Northern Soul. One highlight is Neon Wilderness, a definite trip that is unlike any song on Urban Hymns. Space and Time and Weeping Willow are special sounding emotionally, the solos cleverly match the chorus. Unique keyboards are present in One Day and This Time. A final highlight is Velvet Morning which apexes the original rhythmic guitar throughout the album. The good feelings pour into the songs that were on the cutting room floor for Urban Hymns. This Could Be My Moment and Monte Carlo ended up on The Verve’s compilation album This Is Music 92-98 The Singles. There were also nine other b-sides, Lord I Guess I’ll Never Know, Country Song, So Sister, Echo Bass, The Crab, Stamped, Three Steps, Never Wanna See You Cry and The Longest Day. 


The Verve produce mellow music to chill out to

A rainy day, imagine chilling out to Urban Hymns with the poison of your choice. I hope the psychedelic rhythmic guitars keep you alert enough to appreciate the dynamic vocals. This album will cure those sinus headaches you get working all day. Relax, close your eyes and listen to your cares float away.

Bittersweet Symphony is a favorite because of the cool music video where Richard Ashcroft walks down the street bumping into people. He seems to be talking as he sings yet his voice sounds amazingly powerful. Like in the part:

"No change, I can't change
I can't change, I can't change
But I'm here in my mind
I am here in my mind
But I'm a million different people
from one day to the next I can’t change my mind
No, no, no, no, no, no no, no, no, no, no , no”
       Co-author Bill Watt says “that part gets me pumped up, may sound over the top but he sounds like god in that song just letting everyone know that he owns.” A drum-able beat stays with you as the song energizes and empowers you. This epic song played during my High School graduation. The most memorable part: “Well I’ve never prayed
 But tonight I’m on my knees,
yeah I need to hear some sounds that recognize the pain in me,
yeah I let the melody shine, let it cleanse my mind, I feel free now
But the airwaves are clean and there’s nobody singing to me now”
 As it played on a clear sunny day my classmates and I threw our hats into the air greeting our futures with optimism. This music makes you happy. There’s a kind of unmatched coolness Ashcroft brings in the above stanza. He describes being clean and clear of mind, able to dominate life. 

To hear the full 5:58 proper version of this song  in the best quality buy the album from the amazon link at the end of this article instead of downloading the youtube song. Quality matters! The CD has the least compressed sound therefore the best quality. The mp3 is a close second, the Ipod is further compressed (mp4) and finally Youtube (flash video) I hope to convey that Urban Hymns is a listening experience best heard from beginning to end without interruption, whether as a CD or an MP3 album. The car stereo offers a most enjoyable listen. Each song stands on its own. You want the album so you can shuffle and repeat. Click the amazon link to listen to the song samples and go from there. One warning before I continue describing the album, don’t fall into the musical ADHD of our society. We buy single songs for our Ipods but not whole albums. We listen to thirty seconds of each single. Don’t miss out on this top notch music that the Verve composed to be listened from beginning to end. Buy the mp3 album which includes tracks that you can’t purchase individually. Excuse me for that rant.
       The B-sides to Bittersweet Symphony include: Lord I guess I’ll Never Know, Country Song, So Sister and Echo Bass. Depending on what LP you get there are numerous versions of Bittersweet Symphony. All of these versions are better than the compromised and shortened version you hear on the radio.

  Sonnet

Bill says, “I like the easygoingness, sounds like something you could enjoy listening to while driving through the country. This is one of the better songs I have heard from the verve. I love the part that goes "my lord, my lord, my lord..." because it fits perfectly with what precedes.” Have a reputable, reliable copy of the lyrics in front of you while listening to these beautiful songs. Appreciate the poetry by following the lyrics on this adware free fan site. http://theverveonline.com/lyrics/sonnet.html I highly recommend this website to learn updated news, articles and the current activities of The Verve members. The Verve online
Yes, there's love if you want it
Don't sound like no sonnet, my lord
Yes, there's love if you want it
Don't sound like no sonnet, my lord
My lord
British singers sound profoundly sad. The way Ashcroft sings “my Lord” in this song is similar to the way Liam Gallagher of Oasis sings, “You gotta spread the ‘word’” in the song All Around World. Both lines sung in about the same meter. B-sides to Sonnet include Stamped, So Sister and Echo Bass.
Relax and watch the Verve's videos

The Rolling People contains a psychedelic intro, that is music without a set pattern or limits. This is what alternative music is all about. The Rolling People is long and tiring to play. On a reunion tour Nick McCabe took a break mid-concert with cramps in his wrist from playing The Rolling People. He gave a thumbs up and rejoined the collaborative environment of the band.  The guitar perfectly accompanies the singing. This is a rocking song but listen for the peaceful melodies in the eyes of the storms. In the solo at 3:50 McCabe displays his talent. Nick McCabe is an underrated musician because he usually plays through Ashcroft’s singing. Ashcroft doesn’t force the band to stop playing once he starts singing like Chris Martin of Coldplay does. Similarly, McCabe allows the most talented singer Richard Ashcroft to sing during his would be solos. As a result, their work is only appreciated through listening with an ear that isolates each of their parts. Nick McCabe is a multi-talented guitarist who chooses to play what is best for each song. He plays music that syncs with the band and Ashcroft's vocals.  According to Bill, the song at first listen sounds like a combination of U2 and Blind Melon. The Rolling People sounds like background music for American Idol. But after thoughtfully giving The Rolling People a second listen you will discover real original music. The unique rhythmic guitars guide the song. The intensity changes into relaxing music around 2:33. The meter and tempo of the song slows down and you can hear waterfalls.
The Promo for Rolling People included the album version and a radio edit as well as a 10 second clip of a Call Out Hook. Save your money, all you need is Urban Hymns with its epic 7 minute version of The Rolling People. 
       The beginning of The Drugs Don’t Work tells you this is a great song. The music video is really moving. The guitar on fire at the end is especially cathartic. The violin part supplements the catchy melody. I always wished to create something as powerfully self-expressing as Ashcroft singing: 
“Now the drugs don’t work 
They just make you WOOORSE  
But I know I’ll see your face again” 
The song’s melody is amazingly catchy yet the song’s meaning is really deep. Ashcroft’s father who was dying of cancer was hurt not helped by his medications. One can hope Ashcroft will see his father’s face again in the afterlife. His father died when he was so young. 
  
"All this talk of getting old 
It’s getting me down my love 
Like a cat in a bag, waiting to drown 
This time I’m coming down” 
In one interview Ashcroft clarifies this song isn’t a crusade against recreational drugs saying, “the drugs do work sometimes” http://www.myspace.com/47589783/photos/278087 The effective use of the violin in the Drugs Don’t Work is beautifully reminiscent of Oasis Wonderwall and Don’t Go Away, in terms of how a violin is used so effectively in a rock song. Arguably this original hit song’s best version: 
 
This song has room for a variety. The members of the Verve particularly Richard Ashcroft and Nick McCabe are some of the most talented artists in the music business yet songs like Drugs Don’t Work are vastly underrated. The Drugs Don’t Work contained three B-sides and other versions of the Drugs Don’t Work. The Crab is hauntingly sad but energizing. Three Steps is very uplifting with a nice message. Stamped is an explorative B-side that is stamped with Nick McCabe’s signature guitar work.Check out these different versions on their amazon page. Read the reviews and choose the one that has the b-sides you want.


Catching The Butterfly is a combination of sounds from the city and Indian music, similar to “Within You Without You” and “Love You To” by The Beatles. Catching The Butterfly is hypnotically relaxing. 
“I’m gonna keep catching that butterfly 
In that dream of mine
I’m gonna keep catching that butterfly 
In that dream of mine” 
This is an awesome part of the song. 
The Verve look High?

Trucks backing up, construction work, water dropping and an underwater techno sound can all be heard in this song. I am pretty sure “Catching the Butterfly” is about recreational drugs. This unique song is very adventurous with sounds from the city, cars speeding through a sweet underground tunnel with hypnotic singing. A song only the most talented music artists of The Verve could create. 
 
I welcome and appreciate comments on the meaning of this song!
       Bill’s take on Neon Wilderness: “This song sounds like a guy sorting out his thoughts surrounded by craziness in the city. He remains in his own little world. Without a doubt this is awesome music!” Neon Wilderness is shoe gazer and atmospheric evoking memories of A Storm In Heaven, the first Verve album. 
  
Please post your interpretation to this or any other songs on Urban Hymns! 
       Space and Time. At first listen, sounds like a porcupine tree song that sends you into a different world. Especially when it goes from: 
“I just can’t make it alone 
Oh, no, no (tonight) 
I just can’t make it alone 
Oh, no, no” 
And then goes back to the intro. The instrumental part beginning at 2:45 fits perfectly with the song by copying the lyrical melody. Ashcroft pauses between stanzas letting in McCabe’s understated guitars which lead the magical instrumental parts that are perfectly located in the song. The guitars resonate through Richard’s singing. The whole band shines with mellow and melodic sounds. 
 “We have existence and its all we share” 
 Keep on pushing cause I know its there” 
 Both lines are sung movingly at the same time through the wonders of studio technology. 


Bill’s Perspective: “This song is sung in a trippy way that I call “discovery music.” In a mansion you peer through a giant window. You are now viewing the ocean aware of every nuance in the scenery.” 
       Weeping Willow. Get emotionally invested in this song feeling stronger about your humanity and closer to the idea of mortality as a result. GREAT INTRO Sad but lovely lyrics: 
“When morning breaks 
We hide our eyes and our love's aching 
Nothing's strange” 
This stanza sounds COOL and some fans say their best song. The warped guitar sounds a little Hendrix-y in a good way. 
Cool Loafers Richard!

The song continues:
"There’ll be no better way 
There’ll be no better day to save me 
Save me, 
Yeah save me Yeah, save me" 
This song is about suicidal feelings. Whenever I feel low or lost I relate to this song especially the “save me” part. This stanza is also musically crucial to the song since it transitions to the next stanza: 
“I hope you see like I see, oh oh 
I hope you see what I see, yeah, yeah 
I hope you feel like I feel, yeah” 
This part contains descending notes after each of the first two lines. The notes and chords Nick McCabe plays in this song are Em D and C chords which are sad sounding. 
        Richard Ashcroft, a very talented musician sings in a way that your soul and destiny are in jeopardy. Your life's purpose is on the line. The underrated musicians of The Verve inspire you to leave a legacy. 
"And the world don’t stop 
There is no time for cracking up 
Believe me friend 
‘cause when freedom comes 
I’ll be long gone 
You know it has to end"
Richard Ashcroft masterfully pauses between each line like how McCartney pauses in Hey Jude. 
Concert footage of Weeping Willow 



Ashcroft uses studio technology to do two part vocals. 
"Whether you see or whether you don’t- beside me 
Whether you feel or whether you won’t – beside me" 
At the end of the song they finally reference the title of the song making it much more powerful. The story of someone’s considering ending his or her life, paralyzed by addiction brings emotional intensity to the song’s ending. 
 "Weeping willow 
The pills under my pillow 
Weeping willow 
Pills under my pillow 
Weeping willow 
The Gun under your pillow 
Weeping willow" 
Here is the clearer and crisper sounding studio version.
 Richard Aschcroft an underrated lyricist closes the song: 
“I got to learn to leave the pain, walk through the door and kiss the rain, beside me beside me” (2x) 
I don’t know what these lyrics mean but I would love to learn. The soundtrack of my freshmen year of college was Space and Time, Weeping Willow and Lucky Man. Clever mixing has these three massive songs back to back to back on Urban Hymns. 
 Lucky Man 
 
Original verses and very original intro. In the hundreds of songs a year that Bill hears none sound remotely similar to Lucky Man. Bill says, “I love how Ashcroft sings faster on “Its just a change in me something in my liberty” so it fits the rhythm of “happiness more or less.” Amazingly poetic! LOVE the ending where the orchestra quickly gets increasingly louder. As they have done throughout this historical album. The Verve structure the song so the ideal part is replayed the most. Towards the end of the song following “Oh, my, my” and the violin crescendo you will hear odd sounds like an echo. Sounds similar to clocks and wind chimes bringing you into an enlivening deep consciousness. Richard Aschroft, a most talented artist alters words slightly in the most listened parts of the song. An alternative version of this song,  
Lucky Man can be heard in undeserving movies like Marley and Me. Lucky Man is a single containing B-sides like Never Wanna See You Cry, one of the most touching love songs. Also a different version of Lucky Man called Happiness More or Less. A version of a History a single from A Northern Soul. And the last B-sides are the McCabe influenced The Longest Day and MSG. At the height of the Brit pop movement bands like the Verve and Oasis mysteriously hid many gems as B-sides. Songs better than the best recordings of most bands. As with The Drugs Don't Work, I included all the different versions of this single: vinyl, Import and cassette (make sure your version isn't an audio cassette when it's also available in audio CD!) Each different single has different b-sides featuring more Nick McCabe influenced rock. 



One Day
 
This sounds like a John Lennon solo effort. Particularly the line: 
 "one day maybe you will cry again, just like a child.” 
Bill’s interprets this line as how as a child purity is highest. About 2 minutes into the song is an awesome light warped sound. GREAT keyboards. 
       This Time has a surprisingly unique beat for The Verve. There's a funk feel but old school guitar. Evocative of a 70’s movie. “This Time” is very different in style from the rest of the songs on the album. The chord change at 2:20 is joined by a continuously played guitar pattern that’s easier to hear around 3:30 to 3:35. The piano around 1:30 sounds like an Enya CD. A breath of fresh air in today’s music. The music zones you into what Ashcroft is singing. 



       Velvet Morning. At first impression the intro sounds western bringing up pictures of saloons in the 1800s. When people had a horse and buggy and a desire to go out west. The good guy kicking the bad guy out of town thereby winning the affections of the girl. The town cheering their walk into sunset.  The intro reminds me of The Beatles “Sun King” because of a similar guitar beat and style. In Velvet Morning the guitar notes ring longer and have more feeling and dynamism. Listen to the quiet loud dynamic, which made Nirvana famous. It’s really cool when Ashcroft sings loudly “ANOTHER VELVET MORNING FOR ME,” and then goes back to soft. An absolutely lovely and original melody at 2:13. The rhythm and notes originate from the minds of the underrated musicians of The Verve. 

Similar guitar beat and style to Velvet Morning
       Get ready to listen to Come On! Right away the guitar has a depressing feel that envelops you into your sorrows. Your fate is at stake. During the creation of Come On Nick McCabe and Richard Ashcroft had disagreements. McCabe angrily messes around with his guitar part and it gets crazier as the song progresses. Richard’s vocals fit perfectly: 
“I must be feeling low 
I talked to god in a phone box on my way home 
I told you my answer 
I left you my dreams on my answer machine, Lord” 
Sunny Imagery suits The Verve Urban Hymns uplifting theme

The album’s lyrics grip you. Each line is sung with impeccable timing. Most lyrics have a spiritual note and truly sound like modern day hymns. But unlike the attitudes of religious people these hymns are down to earth and cool. 
“I must be going insane 
I called the doctor so he can relieve my pain 
He’s got a little pill for me 
Just a little luxury 
To help me through my day” 
These lyrics  are for those suffering with roommate or housing issues, also disappointments in life. If your life is spiraling out of control this song is easily relate-able. 
The Verve bassist Simon Jones

Come On is a sad but uplifting song with a memorable chorus. 
"Come on 
Let the spirit inside you 
Don’t wait to be found 
Come along with my sound 
Let the spirit move you 
Let the waves come up 
Confuse you 
I never met no-one to deny our sound." 
 
Bill’s impression of the song: o “Right away I think of standing around in the station of the subway that goes through a city. The warped guitar sound relates well with the lyrics, 
"I must be going insane, 
i called the doctor 
so he can relieve my pain" 
Awesome melody there. I also love the Allman Brothers mode at the chorus: “come on let the spirit inside you….” This is a combination of LA woman by The Doors and Jessica by Allman Brothers.” By finishing with fury and tension The Verve throw the listener an unexpected turn on this beautiful sounding album. The same tension that caused inner disputes that disbanded the band multiple times. The guitar gets WILD and the singing matches the intensity. Aschroft throws himself into the line, “This is a big FUCK YOU” The Verve rarely sound this angry! 
       Deep Freeze (Hidden Track). Sounds like an alien invasion but you will be the one visiting another planet. Sit back in your chair and be taken away. A baby crying in the background. It’s very futuristic sounding, typing on the computer, beeping sounds and robot audio. One interpretation is that the baby crying is the past and all the electronic sounds signify the future. The beginning of Ashcroft’s life and his reaching adulthood. 
 
Does anyone know the name of the baby being voiced? Is it a baby? 
The sound and feel of the hidden track is something you gotta experience. Don’t waste your time and gas money going to all the music stores around you that are overpriced and may not have this CD. Buy it on Amazon through my link. Then follow along with me in this article while listening to your new musical experience.
       Richard Ashcroft went to Up Holland High School in Upholland, England where he met band mates bassist Simon Jones, drummer Pete Salisbury and guitarist Simon Jones. Ashcroft was “incredibly intelligent” but disruptive in the stuffy classroom environment. http://mrbellersneighborhood.com/2004/03/a-conversation-with-richard-ashcroft An aspiring soccer player, he went to Winstanley College in the Wigan, greater Manchester area of England. It is here he turned his attention to music and met Nick McCabe. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Richard_Ashcroft Richard studied theatre, philosophy and English. This definitely impacts his writing on the album. http://www.theverveonline.com/ 
Mad Richard Ashcroft!

       He explores the deep questions of existence, god, love, loss, happiness and sadness. He knows how to entertain by using poetic rhythms in his lyrics. Richard is cool and tireless. He doesn’t simply write popular catchy radio friendly songs but writes about glorifying the human experience, love, loss, loneliness, depression, exhilaration, ecstasy, mental illness, confidence, arrogance, being cool, being lame, fatigue and tirelessness. Richard’s lyrics are driven by his philosophical thinking. I have many quotes from Ashcroft that I loved and saved in word documents. However, I will not list them here because they are unsubstantiated; I couldn't find their original sources. Email me at bobbyhurleyjr@gmail.com if you wish to read them. He finds  the best melodies, his words are musical ear candy. He knows the song's best part, most frequently repeating it. Ashcroft is a gifted songwriter who writes meaningful yet melodic lyrics. Look no further than One Day, Weeping Willow and Space and Time.
Richard Ashcroft Cool and Tireless

        Richard Ashcroft is friends with the Gallagher brothers of Oasis, another notable Britpop group. Noel Gallagher nicknamed him “Mad Richard” and dedicated Cast No Shadow to him. Richard Ashcroft returned the act dedicating “A Northern Soul” to Noel Gallagher. Liam Gallagher does backing vocals on "Come On”. Richard Ashcroft did backing vocals for “All Around The World” which appeared on Oasis’ third album Be Here Now, the album that Urban Hymns displaced as number one on the 1997 charts. 
        If listening to Urban Hymns leaves you craving for more than look to Richard Aschcroft’s first solo album Alone With Everybody. It includes three tracks that didn’t make Urban Hymns. Songs like A Song For The Lovers, New York, and C’mon People (We’re Making It Now). Many The Verve fans were looking for Urban Hymns 2 when they reunited but even Ashcroft felt when they got in the studio they should do songs created by The Verve through their jams. The lyrics and melodies are sung very similarly to Urban Hymns but the instruments supporting Ashcroft provide a more fun and pop listen. However, like Ashcroft alluded to without McCabe playing guitar to his singing the songs are cheesier at times but is still the closest to Urban Hymns 2. 
Richard Ashcroft knows Urban Hymns are relate-able

       Nick McCabe is a year older than the other Verve mates. Richard Ashcroft heard him play in a practice room describing the sound as “a whole other universe to me”. Nick McCabe was a land surveyor that spent most of his time scribbling up guitar sounds. At Ashcroft’s prodding he joined The Verve. Nick McCabe is one of the most underrated guitarists in history. He played selflessly for each Verve song fitting with the band’s sound production. Nick McCabe’s dissonant chords on Weeping Willow make the song an emotional home run. He likes guitarists that sound muddy like Eddie Hazel from Funkadelic. Nick believes Eddie condensed the best bits of Jimmie Hendrix. McCabe says his textured guitar playing is influenced by John Martyn. McCabe never set out to be a guitarist but wanted to make sounds, not be confined to just playing the guitar. He is certainly a reluctant guitar hero. 
Mysterious Nick McCabe

       Nick McCabe’s other projects as listed on his myspace include the recent The Black Ships , also Field Theory and Strome. He is a guitarist, producer and music experimenter or “sonic tinkerer.” http://www.myspace.com/nickmccabeuk Always a big fan of John Martyn he played on the song “Walking Home” from the album “On the Cobbles” Nick McCabe’s latest project is The Black Ships which is with Simon Jones, drummer Mig Schillace and electric violinist Davide Rossi. They put out their first EP “Kurofone” on May 2011. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nick_McCabe He also worked with verve bassist Simon Jones on the soundtrack of the movie Complicities created by Irving Welsh and Iian Banks. Complicities is scary, similar to Stamped, very evil sounding like. 
        He believes the Verve demos are better than the album songs because working spur of the moment was their forte. On A Man Called Sun, they were influenced but limited by the room they played in. They had many reverbs and microphones to get it right. His favorite producer, Chris Potter needed The Verve to work only seven months to complete Urban Hymns. The Drugs Don’t Work was already written and McCabe simply played on a re recording. “I wish I never played on that” he said. He prefers things that sound bonkers like most of his more adventurous guitar work from the early Verve. http://www.excellentonline.com/story/nick-mccabe-interview-733 
Nick McCabe's Lifeblood

       He is nostalgic about the early days when he and Simon Jones played with Casio keyboards making sounds through the effects. He refers to his work on the Verve as a day job finding the touring confining, instead of being able to create music he was confined to play the same stuff. But he is known for being unpredictable with guitar lines in concert, he is very improvisational. http://www.excellentonline.com/story/nick-mccabe-interview-733 
Early Nick McCabe

       By 1997, Urban Hymns was the weakest Nick McCabe influenced record to date. However he does have a heavy power chord style on Rolling People and Come On using overdubs to create a powerful sound. His guitar playing is very rhythmic in Bittersweet Symphony, Sonnet and The Rolling People. He has a country style by using more slide guitar in The Drugs Don’t Work. This was his approach in songs already 90 percent completed. Nick is proud of using his guitar to make unique sounds around 3 minutues on Catching the Butterfly. Catching the Butterfly was cut down from a 25 minute from a Nick McCabe led Jam. Neon Wilderness is built around one of McCabe’s trademark guitar loops. The most recognizable McCabe influence can be found on the Urban Hymns b-sides; “Lord, I guess I’ll Never Know”, Country Song, Echo Bass, Three Steps and Stamped. Nick prefers these tracks for a number of reasons. 
       The main reason is Nick is into ambient, abstract, strange sounding music that puts you into another world rather than a pop record. He prefers jamming instead of ballads. He said his best gig was Southhamption, The Joiners. Nick McCabe does listen to the B-side compilation of the Verve No Come Down occasionally. This contains their earlier work like the live Gravity Grave and other unique sounding songs such as One Way to Go and Where the Geese Go. Nick McCabe calls early Verve the good ole days, times he will never be able to outdo. Part of the fun of touring was being excited driving themselves to gigs. Clapham grand was another great gig. 
Nick McCabe Guitar God

The Verve Country Song

The Verve Country Song
       Nick McCabe doesn’t have a flamboyant or obnoxious stage presence, he doesn't move much on stage. Instead, he is busy achieving a psychedelic sound on stage by using effect pedals and amps. He doesn’t simply copy the guitar lines from the record but creates new effects and sounds on stage. He is very experimental, like an athlete trying new moves and shots in a playoff game. He has to be in tune to his effects to get it right. So the Verve concerts are different, they're not comprised of obnoxious performers giving you cheap and inferior renditions of  the studio versions. I hope my phrase Most Talented Artist makes sense. I am saying that there are many talented music artists and Nick McCabe is one of them. Ashcroft signed the leaving contract and Virigin Records requested two more Verve albums from the remaining members. 
Drop into Nick McCabe's guitar world

         Nick is very appreciative of fans hoping they are friends that think similarly to him, his “breed” of people. Hope is where Nick is. Money doesn’t mean anything to him, creating something great does. Not surprisingly independent thinking artists don’t care for the excessive emphasis on placing well in the charts which record companies push. That said he realizes he needs paychecks to live. He’s not some out of touch rock star but has bills to pay and to deal with tax collectors like the rest of us. His ideal of a good time is to have a lot of stuff happening without being too opportunistic. 
He says, "the key to music to create like a child and edit like a scientist. I’ve been living my life to that! You have your fun and then you apply hindsight to it.”
 A man of mystery Nick started guitar for fun and enjoyed making things up by messing with his guitar. He is more interested in making unique un-guitarlike sounds than becoming an obnoxious guitar virtuoso. In this way he is similar to Steven Wilson of Porcupine Tree who I will discuss in a future post. Nick says, “I don’t even like guitars, I like synthesizers.” He got his first guitar and was only interested in making synthesizer sounds. Nick McCabe is right when he says the guitar sounds are more important than technical excellence. If not you have lost sight of the power of music. John Frusciante, guitarist of The Red Hot Chilli Peppers and future blog topic also felt similarly about the spiritual sounding side of music being more important than show boating technical playing ability. Charlie Christian was the first one to use an electric guitar and the goal was to make It sound like a saxophone. He defends studio equipment pressing a button to make the guitar sound a certain way. He states an opinion about quality music that is eye opening to many music purists who disdain pop, electronic, techno or grunge music when he says, 
"The whole idea that techno isn't 'proper' music 'cos they can't play instruments is so short-sighted. That's surely where new music comes from." 
And Nick McCabe’s unique philosophy on guitars is why I consider him one of the most talented guitarists. 


       Urban Hymns centers around
The Verve
Richard Ashcroft’s amazing lyrics and vocals. However, Nick McCabe’s best guitar work can be heard on the Urban Hymn B-sides. Nick McCabe is an underrated musician because he usually solos underneath Ashcroft’s vocals. Urban Hymns is mellow and meaningful music, perfect to get high to. This 90s alternative rock music is yours to enjoy. Listen to it from start to finish including the hidden track. Ashcroft is a most talented musician because of his awesome ability to time his singing in poetic meters. McCabe is a most talented musician because he understands that how you hear and connect to music is what matters.  Not necessarily how well one can show off his technical skills. You need this quintessential rock album. Click the amazon link to go the amazon purchase webpage.  

        The songs on Urban Hymns are sung with a great voice that goes deep at times. The lyrics aren’t pretentious but the singing may just hype you up in a good way. This alternative music supports the underdog, fight for your chance to show the best you have in life. Let this sad, somber and reflective music be your soundtrack. Be ignited by this album full of personality love, loss, life, happiness and trances. The unforgettable musical instruments back the lyrics taking you to a place of musical relaxation. Feel free to click on the Amazon link to this album. With a trusted company like Amazon you will conveniently get excellent  sound quality music for the best price. Get the highest quality sound. Support this blog and the entertaining artists I write about. Whether CD, MP3 or MP4 in the case of Ipods you will can listen while traveling. My CDs have lasted the longest while I have gone through 2 mp3s. Most cars still have CD players. They need no special chords that wear out. Don’t risk the dangers of being distracted waiting to pull out at a gas station because you have to plug in your mp3 to get the right song. Don't be distracted in traffic risking a motor vehicle accident. CDs are still the simplest way to listen to music with the most uncompromised sound quality.  Stick to thematic and coherent music by purchasing the album not individual songs. The sum in Urban Hymns is greater than the individual songs. Get the album as a CD, MP3, Vinyl or Import with extra tracks. 
       
       As you commute why listen to the dull radio hosts that talk from the diaphragm? Or have radio interference with your mp3? Or adjust your Ipod endlessly to get proper reception? (as it falls off the dashboard) Start the day right listening to this optimistic British pop music and have a peaceful morning even in high stress traffic. Also, a CD sleeve gives you rare artwork and a tangible way to get autographs. 
       Obeying the law in this scenario is surprisingly easy and convenient. Benefit the creative artists who once crashed apartments for years to create these masterpieces. This isn't just music but the combined expressions of a group of guys desiring to make a living in a creative way. 
        If you don’t get the album you won't hear the space between Come On and the hidden track Deep Freezes (the entrance of the song always surprises you) then you are not getting the authentic experience of the album. Someone once drove through a state forest in the pitch blackness of night listening to Come On. An adrenaline rush to be sure! Get a permanent copy of the album, Youtube versions will be taken down eventually due to copyright infringement. 
   
Nick McCabe cool unassuming concert presence

Message me on the comments section. Some youtubers have made interesting projects that I recommend listening to. I have also come across interesting concerts like Haigh Hall May 24, 1998.  I can tell you what B-sides you might enjoy the most based on what type of song you want to listen to. A few questions I have: What do the british public think of the verve? Got a copyrighted work in this article? Prove it and I will give you due credit or will remove it. Also don't forget to check out Black Ships, the project of former Verve members.  I am open to suggestions for other variations of  Urban Hymns videos worth listening to.