It was a cold, wet, dreary day in Austin when I heard the Verve for the first time. It must have been the fall of 1993 because my sister and I visited a happy hour hosted by a local radio station and I walked out with a promo cassette copy of “A Storm in Heaven.” As soon as I heard “Slide Away,” I was hooked.
By the time The Verve released their second full-length, “A Northern Soul,” in the summer of 1995, I was working at a summer camp in Cambridge, England. By then I had listened to “A Storm in Heaven” — no exaggeration — several hundred times. The sounds of Richard Ashcroft’s voice and Nick McCabe’s guitars had become an ineffable part of my waking and dreaming life.
“A Northern Soul” was a departure musically and lyrically from the first album and EP. “On Your Own” would mark the beginning of Ashcroft’s foray into radio-friendly ballads.
I saw The Verve play at T in the Park in Scotland the day before they first broke up in 1996. They reunited to record “Urban Hymns” I saw them twice on that tour. They broke up a second time. When they reunited in 2007 and recorded “Forth,” I resolved to see them, knowing their fragile reunion might not last. I missed them at Coachella, which I regret, but did see them in Las Vegas with a friend.
While “Rather Be,” off of what may or may not be The Verve’s final album, harkens back to early Verve, it would easily fit on “Urban Hymns,” a song that both recalls the past and suggests the future while being firmly grounded in the present.
There’s no need for introductions
No dark corridors of fame
you won’t find your fortune
but you might find some pain
i wanna lie, lie together
feels like our last embrace
in a world full of confusion
yeah, the human race
But I’d rather be here than be anywhere
is there anywhere better than here?
you know these feelings i’ve found they are oh so rare
Is there anywhere better than here?
If I were a musician or a singer in a band, The Verve is whom I would emulate. If I were stranded on a desert island and could only listen to one band, it would be The Verve. If I could only listen to one album, it would be “A Storm in Heaven.”