The Verve Always Bitter Sweet

Following the news that The Verve have reunited and are to do a series of U.K. concerts, tickets which you can purchase here through, is the promise of a fourth album from one of Britain?s most enigmatic and popular alternative rock groups.

Formed in 1989 in Wigan, The Verve came together originally as Verve, at Winstanley Sixth Form College with vocalist Richard Ashcroft, guitarist Nick McCabe, bassist Simon Jones, and drummer Peter Salisbury.

Influenced heavily by The Beatles, Pink Floyd, The Raspberries, Funkadelic, and Krautrock, the band also became quickly known as having a near-legendary appetite for psychedelic drugs. Through these influences, Verve were soon stirring audiences with the captivate qualities of musical painting and lyrical intelligence.

Hut Records signed them in 1991 and their first studio release came the following year with All In The Mind, She’s a Superstar, and the Gravity Grave EP, which was critically acclaimed.

A Storm in Heaven followed in 1993 but did not sell well, only reaching number 27 in the U.K. album chart. A disastrous tour with the alternative rock festival, Lollapalooza, followed, in which Ashcroft was hospitalized for Ecstasy-induced dehydration, and Salisbury arrested for wrecking a Kansas City hotel room in a drug-fuelled rage.

More tragedy for the band followed when the jazz label Verve Records sued them for trademark infringement, forcing the group to change their name to The Verve, as it remains today.

Turmoil and drugs continued to be a growing problem in the band well into the recording of the follow-up album, A Northern Soul in 1995. Rampant drug misuse and the increasingly strained relationship between McCabe and Ashcroft began to take a heavy toll on the band.

A Northern Soul made it to number 13, but even so, Ashcroft broke up the band three months after its release before reuniting them a few weeks later – without McCabe.

Simon Tong joined the band for the remainder of the 1996 tour, and in 1997 McCabe returned to the fold and the writing of the third album began. It was Urban Hymns that gave The Verve their first taste of widespread commercial success. Not only was the album a hit in the U.K., but it also gave them widespread exposure in the USA and rest of the world.

In an ironic twist, the first single from the album, Bitter Sweet Symphony, reached number 1 in the U.K. charts, yet never made the band a single penny in profit. The song borrowed a sample of a symphonic recording of the Rolling Stones, The Last Time, but despite ABKCO Records (The Rolling Stones back catalogue owners) warning the band against using it, they went ahead. This prompted a law suit, the outcome of which saw The Verve losing 100% of the song?s royalties, and Keith Richards and Mick Jagger being awarded songwriting credits and full publishing rights.

The follow-up single, The Drugs Don’t Work gave the band their first U.K. number one single, but soon after this the effects of the in-fighting prevalent in the band for so long, broke them for the final time. By then The Verve had become one of the most influential British alternative rock acts of the decade, and their split left a gaping whole in the U.K. music scene.

The announced their break up in April 1999 to the dismay of their fans, but after several solo projects over the last few years, announced a new album earlier this year, coinciding with a six-date tour scheduled for November and December 2007.

While the management opted for only a limited number of tour dates from fear of deterioration in fan base, all The Verve tickets sold out in less than 20 minutes.

Discography ? Studio Albums
A Storm in Heaven (1993) – 27 (UK)
A Northern Soul (1995) – 13 (UK)
Urban Hymns (1997) – 1 (UK)

Tour Dates
November: 2nd/3rd – Carling Academy Glasgow, 5th/6th – Empress Ballroom Blackpool, 8th/9th – Roundhouse London
December: 13th – The O2 Arena London, 20th – Manchester Central (Formerly GMEX)

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *